Category Archives: Jason Alt

Pro Trader: Emerging Trends

Readers!

I’m going to post the EDHREC Top Commanders from last week and then from this week and I want you to tell me if you notice anything leaping out at you.

Here is last week.

Here is this week. This week’s makes a lot more sense to me, I have to be honest. We got an influx of decks as people finally got ahold of the cards and began building, something that didn’t make sense to me at first but which data continues to repeatedly bear out.

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.
To learn more about being a ProTrader, click here to see all the benefits.

ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Unlocked Pro Trader: Have No Fear

Readers!

After looking at cards that will go in lots of decks, how about we talk about cards that will go in one deck? In order for that not to make a 1/3 as much sense as the articles I wrote the last two weeks, it would have to be a pretty popular deck, right? Well, luckily I have just the thing and I have some stats to back it up.

Omnath continues to get top billing in the set and that’s no big surprise, but Akiri came out of nowhere to swoop into second place last week and is still holding strong. Akiri is yet another Boros commander that makes combat slightly better, but Akiri is one of the better equipment commanders ever and while you won’t draw as many cards as in a Sram deck, you can play Sram and you can also have access to Red which gives you additional combat steps. What else does Red give us? We don’t have to guess – we have the data of what people are already playing!

I don’t know if this will be relevant financially at all for Gadrak. I would have said snap No if this were a normal set, but I feel like Core Sets get bought less and this Core Set, though it has good cards, was never drafted in paper and the supply was a little wonky. We could see Gadrak bump someday but it would probably need more help than just Akiri. I think we’re going to want to look at cards older than 2 years and which have lowish reprint risk, something I would have said about Masterwork of Ingenuity which… just got reprinted. Bummer.

THat said, Hammer of Nazahn ALSO just got reprinted and it’s in quite a few Akiri decks, and it’s finally not being priced out of people’s collections. Since a new set came out every week this summer, I think Double Masters was underopened and Hammer of Nazahn could recover.

This probably isn’t done getting cheap. This peaked at $32 which was largely due to scarcity but it has quite a bit of demand backing it up. Usually the new ceiling is halfway between the pre-reprint peak and the eventual floor, wherever that is. If the floor is $7 like it appears on TCG Player, we’re looking at like $20ish best case scenario. I don’t hate a $7 buy-in if this hits $20 on Card Kingdom in a year or two. Mirari’s Wake is also from Commander 2017 and it’s like $25 on CK right now and they’re paying $17.55 in store credit. I’ll take a free Hamilton in CK credit just for babysitting a card for a couple of years.

Every time they don’t reprint Steelshaper’s Gift, a brand new player drops his the rare from his first ever booster pack in a puddle and quits Magic to go do competitive Rubik’s cube. It seems unlikely it will survive a reprinting, and I’m even a little reticent to buy Sigarda’s Aid despite it being a matter of time before something else comboes well with it and makes it pop again. One card I like for the deck is uniquely suited for this deck because this is the first equipment deck I’ve seen that gives you a 1-mana way to remove equipment, which is new.

If you like your picks on the risky side, I think this only goes up but a reprint likely nukes any chance of it ever recovering. I wanted to discuss this card in particular, not because I like it per se, but because its graph is interesting. The Blue graph is the best buylist price. Since the beginning of the year, the best buylist, I assume Card Kingdom, has been $5 and it hasn’t moved. Since it has remained the best buylist price that whole time, that means not only is CK (I assume) not offering more than $5 on Balan, no one else is or they’d be the new highest price and the graph would move. When dealers are staying away, take the hint. I don’t know why no one has any confidence in this card, but it could have something to do with reprint risk. Whatever the reason for the lack of movement in the buylist price for months, I think there are enough good specs that we can avoid ones dealers and their sophisticated algorithms seem to want to avoid.

This isn’t 100% Akiri-related, but this card is too cheap. In most EDH decks, people only want 2 or 3 swords max since there are so many ways to tutor for them. Feast and Famine is #1 but there’s no reason an equipment-heavy deck doesn’t want this. You’re not always going to get full value is the problem, but “1 planeswalker” scales perfectly from 60 to 100 cards in a way that “2 damage” does not. This belongs in a deck with more than 3 swords, imo. I think it’s as cheap as it will ever get and EDH decks need to run it more. They can’t be in a huge hurry to reprint it and I think given some time, it could see $20 again.

This was recently fairly bulky and some stores who don’t computerize their inventory could have this mispriced in a binder or box somewhere. I recommend trying to ferret out a cheap copy. That said, this “spiked” just on the basis of there being new Partner commanders and not on merit, so this could get a second spike on the basis of the Aikiri deck, which wouldn’t go down as quickly because the cheap copies were discovered. I don’t love retail on this but I do think it’s worth trying to snag some for the old retail price of $2ish.

I realize that isn’t super *great* advice – any card that you get for its old price after it goes up is a buy. However, I think specifically a card that went up for no good reason during a pandemic may be more gettable at its old price at a store that doesn’t 100% pay attention. I also wanted to talk about the concept of second spikes during a pandemic and this let me do that. Plus this card is good in the deck. Besides, I have more picks.

Foil Quest for the Holy Relic is selling out under $2 and I think if you can get these for its current “dirt cheap” some places, you should while you still can. I don’t like EDH foils and I have a hard time moving them, but if this hits $5 on CK, they’ll buy it back for $2 or $3 in store credit and I don’t hate paying $0.50 on these in that case if you don’t trust your ability to out them for retail price when it goes up.

This hasn’t gone up in price in a year and a half. That’s not correct and if this card is adopted at all in Akiri decks, the current, meager supply won’t hold. I know it’s an uncommon, but it’s uncommonly good and its price has already gone up over the years despite the supply. I’m calling this a target, especially with CFB charging a full dollar less than CK, which sells way more copies of this than CFB does.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print if you ask me. There are other cards I could have targeted and didn’t and if you have a specific question about why, hit me up in the comments section or the MtG Price Pro Trader Discord server. Sling those lines and snag those singles. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Stapling… 6 Decks Together?

Readers!

Last week I wrote what I think was some pretty riveting stuff and this week I’m writing a sequel, but like a sequel that was better than the first one, like Aliens or Terminator 2 or Leonard Part 6. If you didn’t read last week’s article, or if you’d like to refresh your memory, give it another read right now and we can call that the preamble part of this article. If you’re about to crash headlong into a paywall you didn’t know was there, last week’s piece is unlocked already, just like every new article is unlocked on Thursday so everyone can get these sweet picks.

This week I’m going to use the same three commanders but since we have another week of data collection, I’m going to re-populate the lists because we’ve had another week of data collection. Now, the odds that a card that’s great in all 3 decks or even two of them wasn’t conceived of a week ago and is now in enough decks to make all three lists is so remote it’s not worth discussing, but I feel like it wouldn’t be scientific to collect as much data as we can. I talked mostly about Green cards last week so this week, I’m going to look at cards that aren’t necessarily mono-Green and therefore not necessarily in Ashaya.

While we’re talking about changes since last week, let’s look at the number of decks.

Since last week, Omnath went from 84 to 133, an increase of 58%, Ashaya went from 13 to 20 decks, an increase of 54% and Phylath went from 8 to 14 decks, an increase of 75%. None of these numbers are crazy, but Ashaya slipped from #2 to #5 and Phylath slipped from #6 to #9 with the addition of Akiri, a very popular card. I wouldn’t read a TON into Akiri coming out of nowhere since basically the same number of people made an Akiri deck as an Orath deck, they just had one fewer week to do it.

Right now, Omnath still reigns supreme, which may or may not hold. What matters to me is the cards in more decks than just Omnath, though, so let’s take a look.

Having redone the three lists, I decided to look just at cards in both Omnath and Phylath. Yes, there are more Ashaya decks than Phylath decks and Green is common to all 3, but I want to avoid overlooking any Red or Gruul cards. Are there any?

Arid Mesa
Blasphemous Act
Bloodstained Mire
Broken Bond
Burgeoning
Chaos Warp
Cinder Glade
Command Tower
Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
Escape to the Wilds
Explore
Farseek
Fury of Akoum
Gruul Turf
Heart of Keld
Khalni Heart Expedition
Locus of Rage
Mina and Denn
Moraug
Nahiri’s Lithoforming
Radha
Rhythm of the Wild
Roiling Regrowth
Sakura-Tribe Scout
Scalding Tarn
Scapeshift
Scute Swarm
Seer’s Sundial
Swiftfoot Boots
Temur Sabertooth
Terramorphic Expanse
Tunneling Geopede
Valakut Exploration
Wildborn

Blasphemous Act, Chaos Warp, Mourag (on the list as both Mourag and Fury of Akoum because the list tool does not know what to do with proper names separated by a comma), Omnath Locus of Rage, Mina and Denn, Radha, Heart of Keld and Valakut Exploration.

This is slated for reprint (along with Admonition Angel, which is ALSO in Secret Lair, RIP) in the “Land’s Wrath” EDH precon for the set, and that may or may not drastically impact the price. If it does, good, buy a bunch because it will go up. If it doesn’t, good, but a bunch because it will go up. Look at the hard increase when Lord Windgrace was printed in Commander 2018. This is a powerful card that will never stay cheap again, and with lots more “lands matter” cards possible in the future, this will always be a player. It’s already starting to tank in price, so watch for it to rebound (don’t try to grab a falling knife, as stockbrokers love to say) and buy in. This has some reprint risk, but what doesn’t these days? I’m not ready to say “buy RL cards” and call it a column just yet.

The buy-in is currently a bit high on a non-mythic (this too so long I gave up waiting. Woops! These were gettable at bulk) and the reprint risk is pretty high. Even though they love to make everything a special edition foil later, I think you have a year or two to cash in on foils of this.

Foil

The foils followed a similar trajectory and I think have more upside considering they’re selling out under $8 everywhere that still has them. Card Kingdom is the highest price and they’re just about sold out if that tells you anything. I don’t love foils in EDH as a recommendation because there are so few copies, there’s so little demand and you can basically only help 3 or 4 people, which isn’t a recommendation, it’s an insider tip. Still, if you’re an insider, here’s a tip.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s look at Omnath and Ashaya’s cards.

Ancient Tomb
Arbor Elf
Birds of Paradise
Carpet of Flowers
Chrome Mox
Destiny Spinner
Dryad Arbor
Eldritch Evolution
Elvish Mystic
Elvish Reclaimer
Field of the Dead
Force of Vigor
Fyndhorn Elves
Gaea’s Cradle
Genesis Wave
Ghost Quarter
Green Sun’s Zenith
Llanowar Elves
Locus of Mana
Mana Crypt
Mana Vault
Mox Diamond
Multani
Protector of Argoth
Reliquary Tower
Snow-Covered Forest
Strip Mine
Survival of the Fittest
Sylvan Awakening
Titania
Triumph of the Hordes
Utopia Sprawl
Veil of Summer
Vital Force
Wayward Swordtooth
Wild Growth
Yavimaya’s Avatar
Zendikar Resurgent

One card that popped out immediately was Carpet of Flowers. This is a very cEDH card and EDHREC tends to not get cEDH cards much, especially $20 uncommons. I think the increased availability from the Mystery Booster printings is making the card a little more playable. That said, Mox Diamond, Mana Crypt, Ancient Tomb, Survival of the Fittest – these are cEDH cards. They’re in both lists because cEDH players are building a lot of Omnath. I’m not sure why a player with a spare Gaea’s Cradle would be building Ashaya. One thing to note – when you have a small number of decks, such as 20 or so, 2 people building something is 10% of the total and that gets picked up. To the 3 people putting a $2,000 manabase in a deck with a commander that does absolutely nothing on its own, more power to you, I guess.

There are no surprises here, but I do want to highlight one card I like.

Titania is getting really hard to reprint. It’s more expensive than anything they’d put in a Commander precon, it’s too niche to go in something like Modern Horizons, so basically if this isn’t in Commander Legends, it’s likely going to be a minute before it can be reprinted and those sub-$20 copies on TCG Player look mighty inviting.

Since correlating Omnath and Ashaya got the spikey stuff in Ashaya, can doing the same thing with Phylath highlight durdly stuff from both decks?

Acidic Slime
Beanstalk Giant
Beast Whisperer
Beastmaster Ascension
Blighted Woodland
Boundless Realms
Chord of Calling
Cradle of the Sun
Garruk
Garruk’s Uprising
Growing Rites of Itlimoc // Itlimoc
Guardian Project
Harmonize
Liege of the Tangle
Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
Nissa’s Pilgrimage
Primal Hunter
Reclamation Sage
Return to Nature
Rishkar’s Expertise
Shamanic Revelation

Yep!

This went 4 years without a reprint and when it did get one, it was in Mystery Boosters, which hasn’t curtailed prices like we expected. I think it’s worth noting how this shrugs off reprints, although if it’s reprinted again, it may not go 4 years after that. I think this is a potential Commander Legends card and if it’s in there, I’m a buyer.

foil

If you want to know why I don’t like EDH foils, behold this graph. This is a $12 foil version of a $7 non-foil card with 1 foil printing and 5 non-foil printings. Casual cards just don’t matter that much in foil, unless they do. If a card is brand new and you think it’s a good EDH card and the foil is $5 and the non-foil is $2, do you want to try and guess if it’s going to pop or do you want to just avoid having to guess? Me, I like avoiding having to guess.

Finally, look at how many decks Nissa’s Pilgrimmage is in. 10k is quite a few. This is the #1 most-played Green Sorcery outside of the top 100 cards in EDHREC’s database. It has 3 printings, Origins where the foil is under a buck, an EDH precon where there was no foil, and an FNM promo that’s under a buck. When someone tells you raw EDHREC inclusions stats and goes all Dragon Ball Z about the number of decks it’s in, remember Nissa’s Pilgrimmage. It’s hard for a card to be in 10,000 decks and be the most-played Green Sorcery in the whole database and that card can’t get above $1. Food for thought.

That does it for me this week. I’ll be diving deeper into specific decks next time – I particularly like how Zareth San could make some Rogues cards that escaped a reprint in the Anowon precon (is all of this gibberish to you because you don’t play EDH? I’m really self-conscious about assuming you’re all on the same page) relevant again. Makes me want to buy all of the Quicksilver Fountains. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Stapling 3 Decks Together

Readers!

I’m going to do that thing where I compare 3 decklists to see if anything pops out. If you’re new to the series, I’ll explain later. If you’re old to the series, you’ll be happy to know that article you all try to make fun of me for is like 10/10 this week. There are no misses, only longer-term specs. Enjoy buylisting foil Edgewalker for $30 in a week.

EDHREC has some preliminary data from early birds making decks on Archidekt and Moxfield and not TappedOut. If you’re still using TappedOut, stop. Switch to Archidekt or Moxfield or Deckstats or Aetherhub. This data is early, but it does counter a pervasive (unsubstantiated) opinion among finance people who may or may not play EDH that “no one is excited about Omnath and it’s the Cleric card that’s exciting,” something I’ve seen more than once and I’m paraphrasing here. That might be the case later, but for right now, I don’t see much evidence that Omnath is unpopular. In fact,

It would appear that Omnath has some serious juice at the moment. He was anticipated and spoiled a little ahead of some of the rest but he’s being built 28 times as often as Taborax at the moment.

The thing is, it’s somewhat irrelevant whether Omnath is built more than Taborax or any other commander over the next few months. What IS relevant is whether the cards in Omnath go up as a result of how much it is built. cEDH players are somewhat interested in Omnath as they are in any commander that says “When [name] enters the battlefield, draw a card” because they can build Food Chain, which is one of three things they like to do. Looking into cEDH builds seems irrelevant because every card in those decks is already expensive and every deck in those colors is the same. If they have a 5 color Food Chain deck, they don’t get to play Demonic Tutor. If they had a 3 color Food Chain deck, now they get to play Enlightened Tutor. I’m not saying cEDH isn’t fun or valid, but I am saying everything financially relevant is already expensive and won’t go up on the basis of a new commander.

Great, you devoted a whole paragraph to what not to buy. Super great advice, Jason.

Hang on, nerds, I never said I wasn’t going to tell you what to buy, damn. The thing is, I think we’re forgetting something fairly major here, and that is that most of the Green commanders in this set are really samey. There’s a landfall one, a landfall one and a lands one. Will Taborax or Orah or Linvala even get played more than Omnath? Maybe. Will any one commander be built more than the total number of Omnath, Ashaya and Phylath decks? Not likely. That means anything in all 3 decks is bound to matter.

I outlined a process in a previous article a process where I use a list comparison tool to look at 3 lists of cards and spit out which cards are in 2 of the lists or all 3. I think Yasharn is dissimilar enough from the other 3 Green commanders to exclude it for now but boy, the other 3 don’t have a ton of daylight between them beyond differing color identities. I think the best specs will be in all 3 decks because that is bound to be very significant and we might find some cards that aren’t already expensive.

Ashaya looks like it has a bit more consensus on what to include, but if you’ll notice, the more colors, the more cards in the lists. That makes sense, if 84 people are building a 4 color deck, there’s no way there will be as much consensus as with 13 people building a 1-color deck. This will weight the Ashaya cards fairly heavily, but with more Omnath decks, we can sort of call it a wash. Remember, we’re not looking at how much each card is played, merely at which cards are in all 3 decks.

Avenger of Zendikar
Azusa
Beast Within
Crop Rotation
Crucible of Worlds
Cultivate
Eternal Witness
Exploration
Field of the Dead
Finale of Devastation
Gaea’s Cradle
Genesis Wave
Green Sun’s Zenith
Heroic Intervention
Kodama’s Reach
Krosan Grip
Lightning Greaves
Lost but Seeking
Lotus Cobra
Misty Rainforest
Myriad Landscape
Nature’s Claim
Nature’s Lore
Nissa
Oakhame Adversary
Overwhelming Stampede
Prismatic Vista
Rampaging Baloths
Ramunap Excavator
Regrowth
Return of the Wildspeaker
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Skyshroud Claim
Snow-Covered Forest
Sol Ring
Springbloom Druid
Sylvan Library
Tireless Tracker
Veil of Summer
Verdant Catacombs
Wayward Swordtooth
Who Shakes the World
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Worldly Tutor
Zendikar Resurgent
Zendikar’s Roil

Check your findings! This should go without saying, but when you’re doing analysis like this and ESPECIALLY when you’re doing analysis using tools that weren’t designed for Magic cards specifically, you’ll have some quirks. The list says “Nissa” is in all 3 decks, but if you go back to the pages for each commander, Ashaya uses Nissa, Worldwaker, Phylath uses Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Omnath uses Nissa, Vital Force, Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Nissa, Steward of Elements. So much for a consensus! “Nissa” doesn’t belong on the list, although Nissa, Who Shakes the World is in 2 of the decks.

This card is very good and it’s going to be in a lot of good decks going forward, it’s not super likely to get reprinted per se and it keeps getting cheaper. If you’ve played with this walker, you know how absurd it is. I use it in 3 color Omnath and it does work. That emblem wins the game if you get it and tapping Forests for double is absurd. If there were more Ashaya decks, surely Nissa, Who Shakes the World would be in the mix. I like this when it finishes getting cheap, although close to $3 for a useful ‘walker has to be close to the floor if it’s not reprinted.

Card Kingdom wants almost $6 for this card and they’ll get it, trust me, which means that $3.75 on Channel Fireball, a site where their subscribers are given store credit every month and encouraged to use it, won’t last long. It doesn’t take much to clean out their inventory.

So even though this isn’t on all 3 lists, it’s only missing from the deck where it’s the best and I don’t expect it to not start showing up in a mono-Green deck. I like this under $4 a lot and I think it could hit $10 but it definitely hits $8.

This isn’t a good spec, now, I just want you to see how adept Lotus Cobra is at shaking off reprints. It’s never been reprinted in a set with a ton of good cards and Expedition box-topppers, though, but when this price craters, and believe me, it’s going to crater, there might be some money to be made. Cobra is good in a lot of EDH decks and if it’s like a buck, there’s no question there’s upside. It being reprinted at non-mythic rare is a blow, but if you’re not holding any copies, who cares how cheap it gets? Just buy in and you’ll probably be able to buylist them for like $5 in two years.

This card reminds me of another card that never got above $1 for this first year and I was buying copies at the LGS because they were 2 for $1 there and I had store credit. The card never broke $1 on any site and I just sat there waiting and waiting, wondering if I even understood mtg finance anymore. I came up with all sorts of reasons why the price was stagnant and when it finally hit $2, I sold a lot of them for a mere double-up, keeping fewer than $20 copies. Here’s a graph of that card.

Return of the Wildspeaker is doing the same thing Rishkar’s Expertise did and this time I know better than to doubt myself.

Rishkar’s Expertise has been out 3 times as long as Return of the Wildspeaker and is in two times as many decks. Does it logically follow that Return is therefore currently overachieving? No, but it’s worth thinking about in those terms. Can you see Return’s graph doing what Expertise’s graph did? Imagine Throne of Eldraine as a set once it rotates out of Standard. The value has to go somewhere and I think it’s super reasonable to picture a scenario where a version of Return of the Wildspeaker is $9 on Card Kingdom. What can we expect to buylist it for in that case?

Hot damn.

It’s hard for me to picture a scenario where Wayward Swordtooth isn’t in Commander Legends. If it’s not, this is a $20 card before there’s even a chance to reprint it. I don’t like paying $15 for a $20 card, so if you can snag those 4 Euro copies on Card Market, go for it.

$4 HAS to be the floor on this formerly $15 card. This can very easily hit $10.

This was all mono-Green stuff, obviously. Would you like some homework? Read over the list of common cards between Phylath and Omnath and post your favorite spec in the comments section here or in the MTG Price Discord.

Arcane Signet
Arid Mesa
Ashaya
Blasphemous Act
Blighted Woodland
Bloodstained Mire
Broken Bond
Budoka Gardener
Burgeoning
Chaos Warp
Command Tower
Constant Mists
Courser of Kruphix
Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
Escape to the Wilds
Evolving Wilds
Explosive Vegetation
Fabled Passage
Farseek
Fury of Akoum
Gamble
Garruk’s Uprising
Gruul Turf
Harrow
Heart of Keld
Horn of Greed
Khalni Heart Expedition
Life from the Loam
Locus of Rage
Migration Path
Mina and Denn
Moraug
Noxious Revival
Omnath
Oracle of Mul Daya
Radha
Rampant Growth
Rhythm of the Wild
Sakura-Tribe Scout
Scalding Tarn
Scapeshift
Seer’s Sundial
Snow-Covered Mountain
Soul of the Wild
Spitfire Lagac
Splendid Reclamation
Stomping Ground
Strip Mine
Swiftfoot Boots
Sylvan Awakening
Taiga
Temur Sabertooth
Terramorphic Expanse
Tunneling Geopede
Valakut
Valakut Exploration
Wildborn
Wrenn and Six
the Molten Pinnacle

That does it for me, everyone. Thanks so much for reading. Until next time!