Category Archives: Jason Alt

Pro Trader: Early Quick Hits

Readers!

Usually I pick one commander, the most popular one, and do a whole article going very deep on just those picks before moving on to the next commander. The problem then became that by the time I got to the 4th or 5th article, all of the obvious picks had dried up. I feel like I was doing you a disservice by not mentioning big, obvious stuff while there was still time to get it. I can get granular for granularity’s sake later when the obvious stuff dries up. I think that money is money and picks are picks, but I also think you’re going to get sort of annoyed if I don’t mention obvious stuff because I tackled the subjects in the wrong order.

To that end, for this set at least, I’m going to try and cruise through quick hits for the set this week and for the precons next week. It’s not ideal either way – ideally I’d write a huge primer the second I had any data and you could all read it at once, but since that’s not really an option, let’s at least pick the low-hanging fruit, shall we?

The distribution so far isn’t quite how I expected it to go, but I think the precon commanders are liable to overshadow the set commanders a bit. That’s fine, I don’t love the idea of them jamming 35 Legendary creatures into every set now, anyway. We’re drowning in commanders and that has the effect of making everyone make every good one just to keep up rather than getting to spend some time with some silly ones. I don’t love it but that’s my commentary as a person who cares about the format. As a person who cares about prices, it’s probably not going to tip over the house of cards yet.

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Pro Trader: FIrst Day oF Classes

Readers!

I’m sure you’re all dying for me to give you some good news about Strixhaven specs in Commander but I don’t know that I have great news. I have bad news and weird news, which do you want first?

The bad news is that even with EDH’s help, the individual cards themselves probably won’t go up enough to have been worth buying in. Unless something is Smothering Tithe-tier, the odds of something that’s used in EDH being worth buying this early is practically nill. Can I refer you to some prices from the last few sets?

The cards over $10 are just different versions of the same few cards. The same is true of other sets.

With crazy Japanese language alternate art cards in the collector boosters, I really don’t see that there is much room to do anything with singles. I never think so. As always, I think the money is to be made on old cards that are suddenly good based on new commanders. Luckily we got 50 of them dropped on us over one weekend, so that’s neat. I’m still wading through all of it, but preliminarily, Commander 2021 is much better for EDH than Strixhaven proper. Before you say “Duh,” let me just illustrate how much better. The stuff getting tested the most in Strixhaven is… not good. Better versions of these cards already exist, and that’s a problem.

I’ll show you what I mean.

In my opinion as someone who knows as much about the EDH side of EDH finance as the finance side of it, Rip Apart, Fracture and Mortality Spear are bad. I don’t think they’re going to continue to see play. That said, I felt the same way about Ravenform and people are at least allegedly playing that, so what do I know? I won’t argue too much against data because I’m not a complete lunatic, but since this data is fairly preliminary, I will caution people to not jump to any hasty conclusions yet.

One card I see overperforming my expectations in a way that I don’t think is necessarily wrong is this fella over here.

Archie over here is a card-drawing machine and coupled with Thousand-Year Storm, he can quickly deck you because that’s how decks with Thousand-Year storm work. You win with Thassa’s Oracle or you barely win one spell short of decking yourself. There is no in-between. Making every Instant a cantrip is pretty powerful and I think this could stick around. Foils are pre-selling for $5 for the bundle foil, and that may be the money card.

Archmage Emeritus-bundle, Strixhaven School of Mages:Foil (STX) Price

The new art is pretty sweet for an alternate art, although I bet the tats look good in foil on the set foil, too. I don’t even hate brushing a stack of these around a buck. Creatures are a little flimsier than enchantments, but here’s a card to at least look at.

I think we have a while before Insight pops, even in foil.

That said, the trend in foil is somewhat encouraging. So will how collectible the bundle foil is offset how available it is? I tend to doubt it, and with Ageless Insight growing as slowly as it is, it’s tough to recommend Archie, and if I can’t recommend Archie, what else from the set even looks good?

I think by now people have gotten the memo that cards like this are good and shouldn’t be allowed to get very cheap, but I think people are also trying to compare an in-print common to an uncommon like Relentless Rats that got popular like 5 years after it first got printed and that’s silly. Let’s compare this to the cards it’s comparable to.

7 Dwarves becoming a $5 foil was fairly easy to predict, but I also think Dwarves is a much, much better card than Dragon’s Approach. I think Dragon’s Approach is a trap and while I think it has upside at the price of “rescue from draft chaff” I wouldn’t expect Approach to do Dwarf numbers ever.

Petitioners is a year older than Dwarves and the foil is the same price. I don’t know what that means for Dragon’s Approach, but a spell is harder to put copies of into the graveyard than it is to put copies of into play, so I am not sure this current trends will hold.

I am a little bearish on Strixhaven for EDH, folks. We still have the commander decks to delve into next week, but I don’t love the set preliminarily. That said, some of the commanders are cool.

Extus, Oriq Overlord // Awaken the Blood Avatar

Extus, Oriq Overlord // Awaken the Blood Avatar

Extus is a decent commander with a really brutal spell attached that gives you access to Red and gives you a handy sac outlet that reduces commander tax. I like this a lot.

I’ve called this card before and I was right then and I’m right (?) now. This has flirted with $6 before, I think it gets there now. You want to cast Awaken the Blood Avatar a lot, and now you can do that and then copy it a bunch. This is a no-brainer inclusion in the deck and since it’s currently the most popular deck on EDHREC by a LOT, I think this is a winner.

A few other relevant cards are creeping up. I really like the idea of building this deck, and I plan to as soon as possible.

This card is in a $40 precon with a $50 card, this card should cost -$10 and yet here it is, creeping up in price. Get these before they go, because once the cheap copies dry up after the cheap copies of the precon do, this is going to go up faster than anyone thinks. It’s not even at its historical peak.

I think we can delve more into Extus or other decks next week, but for now, this set is weak for EDH and that’s OK. I’m still busting Collector Boosters to get those sweet Japanese foils, and you should, too. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Hot Specs for Cool Decks

Readers!

There are 2 new preconstructed decks revealed so far and I want to talk about both of them. If there are actually 5, you could get access to this article on Tuesday by becoming a Pro Trader, just saying. Early access to the articles is just one of the many benefits. I mean, this isn’t even me trying to pitch Pro Trader, this is just me uncomfortable that I only have 2 decks to talk about and you have information that I don’t about what’s in the other 3. I’ll talk about the rest of them next week – Tuesday if you found this paragraph charming, Thursday if you didn’t.

Lorehold and Prismari are revealed so far and I think despite RW usually being a pretty weak pairing, things seem different with this set. They used old, familiar color pairings but really did work to put a new twist on them – Lorehold is NOT Boros. This isn’t a combat-oriented precon, it’s leaning a bit into White’s “Archaeology” theme that hasn’t been explored much since like, Antiquities, and giving us some real value out of the graveyard in ways Boros never dreamed of. The precon also contains a very, very good reprint.

I don’t want to suck up to WotC too much (here; I ABSOLUTELY sucked up to them on Twitter and I’ll do it again) but this is a great reprint. What I won’t tweet is that they don’t deserve a ton of credit here because this was closer to $10 than $30 when they put the precon together to send off to the printer. It worked out for us, like it worked out in 2016 the first time this card was reprinted and sunk to below $5.

This won’t sink to $5 ever again and won’t ascend to $30, most likely, but there is still money to be made when this bottoms out. This should regain some value because it’s a bonkers card and it’s a Dargon and it steals ALL of their artifacts. Good God, this card is really good. Wherever this stops, buy it, it will go back up. This graph basically starts where it was reprinted and look at that curve.

There are some really solid reprints here beside Hellkite Tyrant, but I’m not sure too many of them have a chance to get back to their pre-reprint levels the way Tyrant will. There is one card I like, though.

This was also pretty reasonable when it was slated for the reprint but with the Elves shenanigans happening lately, this popped off in a big way. I think it’s likely this at least approaches the $20 it hit in 2019. This Lorehold deck could be the RW deck from Commander 2015 – it didn’t sell well but it was the surprise value winner a year later with Urza’s Incubator, Fiery Confluence, Blade of Selves and Gisela. We have seen $40 precon decks with one $50 card in them just this last year and it should be affordable to buy these decks and get your value back in basically 2 cards and have the rest of the deck be pure profit.

The new cards in the deck matter, too.

Tax is likely going to be a second Smothering Tithe rather than a new Smothering Tithe. With the other cards in the deck, it seems fairly likely that Monologue Tax’s price will be under $10.

Although it seems some people are eager not to make the same mistake they did when they underestimated Smothering Tithe. Where will Monologue Tax go if it’s half as good as Tithe?

And that’s with a reprint in the Brawl decks. Monologue Tax is no Smothering Tithe, but it’s close-ish and I think it’s not unreasonable to expect it in the $12-$15 range, but I bet it goes down before it goes up unless you find a presale price that’s cheaper than the ones that exist now. Be patient, let the feeding frenzy come and go and let everyone else test this in their decks.

The Prismari deck doesn’t have quite the same amount of bonkers reprint value, but it’s still pretty solid. OK, that’s misleading. This deck has like 0 value. Want to know the most expensive cards in the deck right now?

It could mean that the deck is bad and is always bad, but there is hope nestled among the new cards.

Everything in the deck costs a million mana, which is fine with Rousing Refrain being cast for free every once in a while. The real monster is the commander, though.

Preliminarily, take a look at Thousand-Year Storm which dodged a reprint in this deck, which is silly considering there are 2 $20+ cards in the Lorehold deck. I did get my Swarm Intelligence stonks spanked, though, but I deserve that, I guess. When the full deck is on EDHREC, I’ll have some cards to look at, but I have a few ideas based on looking around the net to see what people are building.

This is already on its way to the moon, or at least near-earth orbit with the parts of space shuttles and junked Soviet satellites. That’s pretty good, right? Buying in at $10 feels weird, but there are $8 or $9 copies available and I think this is $20 in a year barring intervention.

I bet you didn’t know this was going for this much. This is a beefier version of Young Pyromancer and EDH players are very aware of it even if some of the rest of us weren’t. This is on its way up and double triggering this seems cool.

Finally, a card that I need to show TCG Prices for because the graph on Card Kingdom is messed up.

This looks like a useless graph, but it’s actually not. Let me explain what is happening here. Mizzix was an $8 card that appeared to be going for $1 every few months. What happened there? Put simply, Card Kingdom doesn’t do a good job with their API that other sites scrape. When there are no copies of Mizzix listed, it doesn’t list the price it was going for when it sold out like it does for other cards because there is a $1 copy of the foil oversized card from the EDH decks in stock. We can see every time Mizzix sold out on Card Kingdom in the last few years. It happens quite a bit. That’s something worth knowing. This was selling out before it had a nuts deck like Veyran to go in.

Veyran also ends up in the 99 of decks like Kalamax, but I don’t know if that makes anything move. Kalamax is pretty popular already and I don’t know if adding Veyran to the 99 juices it at all. You can certainly look at Mizzix and Kalamax decks, though, to see if anything sticks out to you. I can’t catch everything, but I can teach you to fish. Go fish.

Unlocked Pro Trader: Preliminary Strixhaven THoughts

Readers!

There’s no getting off of Mr. Hogwarts’ Wild Ride, and with sexy Japanese alternate art versions of cards in Collector Boosters, potentially replacing the MS Paint alternate art cards that are already going to sling a lot of boosters, we’re in for a set that’s going to make some real waves. What waves in EDH, exactly? Well, it’s too early to tell for sure since all of the cards aren’t revealed and we don’t have any EDHREC data to parse yet, but I have some ideas about where to look first.

There are a few cards that are on their way to popping already, or have popped but they might be mispriced.

New evergreen keyword Ward introduced in MTG Strixhaven | Dot Esports

The Twincasters will be included in the EDH decks and since their revelation, people have been thinking about how they might be broken.

Helm was already on its way, but this didn’t hurt it at all. I would say the reprint risk is pretty low since these were already over $10 when the decks were being built. Still, even if Helm is reprinted, a steep growth curve like this ensures it will shake the reprinting off and you’ll be able to get out for more than you paid. I have a bunch of copies in the mail I plan to ship out before the decklists are finalized but if you’re feeling diamond-handsy you can always hodl and let me know how it goes.

Rite is down off of its peak and that spells profit possibilities. It spiked recently and calmed back down and that’s a perfect opportunity to grab copies before they go even higher. I’d say the next 6 months have way more opportunities for a new impetus for this card to go up than opportunities for a reprint, and since people are holding off, expecting a printing in the precon, you can be greedy while they’re being fearful.

Here’s a budget pick.

I don’t have any EDHREC data so, again, I’m speculating but I think this stuff likely matters.

Hofri is also pretty interesting.

Unlike with Adrix and Nev, it’s less obvious what will be good here. I read a couple of reddit threads where people were brewing, and if you’re not doing that, you really, really should.

Here is what could matter from Hofri, besides the obvious.

If Spirts end up being a thing at all, paying under $2 for a Kamigawa foil on this seems fine, especially with Card Kingdom selling out without anyone noticing.

Meanwhile this $5 foil never got a reprint. If Spirts are a big factor, other cards could be in play.

My inclination when someone tweets something I don’t agree with is to make sure my position is supported by data.

At first I was skeptical because I didn’t think just spirits being a thing would matter for Kykar since it seemed more likely people would build new spirits cards around new spirits commanders, which would be Lorehold and the decks couldn’t include Kykar, and would people really build Kykar? So I went looking.

I don’t know whether cards like Hofri Ghostforge are going to make more people build Kykar, but it turns out they never really stopped. Kykar is the 12th-most-built commander of the past 2 years. Here’s another thing.

Kykar is played half as much as a non-mythic that only costs twice as much as Kykar, and it’s played twice as much as a Mythic with the same number of printings that costs 3 times as much. For whatever reason, it looks like Kykar may be undervalued and even if Spirits in the new set don’t make Kykar do anything, the incongruity of a card being underpriced should do it on its own. Let’s look at the trajectory.

It’s hard to distinguish the moderate upswing it’s on right now from noise, but it could be on its way past $5 on Card Kingdom for good this time. How many copies are we talking about?

OK, then. Looks like my gut was wrong, and that’s why we always look at data.

Speaking of data, we’ll have more next week, and since the window on getting stuff is shrinking quite a bit from where it used to be, it doesn’t hurt to get updates from me more often than once a week in these articles, just sayin’. That does it for me, everyone. Until next time!

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