Category Archives: Jason Alt

Unlocked Pro Trader: I Think About Oathbreaker So You Don’t Have To

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Readers,

Ugh.

Like, you’re welcome. Sincerely. That’s a phrase I find myself saying a lot lately, unprompted. My daughter has excellent manners 50% of the time and 0 manners 50% of the time which averages out to having OK manners all of the time and on a good day, her manners with strangers are good and with me are suspect which makes me look like a good parent to strangers. You don’t know I did the equivalent of getting you your paints from a shelf you can’t reach, rinsing your brushes and tearing a page out of your Peppa Pig painting book because you can’t quite handle perforation, but I promise I’m doing all that for you and more. I mean, I feel like new formats are a pain and I hate to learn new things and I did that for you. Is Oathbreakers Brawl or is it Tiny Leaders? It’s hard to tell how many months it will last before it disappears under the weight of the collective apathy of an entire community. It’s also possible Oathbreaker catches on and is around forever. Anything is possible. 2016 taught me that.

I know what a portion of you are asking –

  1. What is Oathbreaker?
  2. Should I care?

The answer to number 2 is a soft “Yes” and the answer to number 1 is a bit more complicated. Let’s launch into that. To do that, I’ll need to read a 300 word wiki article. Time to roll up my sleeves.

Oathbreaker is a 60 card, singleton format with 2 commanders – a Planeswalker and a “signature spell” that both start out in the Command Zone. The spell must be an Instant or Sorcery. Your deck is bound by typical color identity rules like in EDH so new Teferi can only have Blue and White cards. You can’t cast your signature spell unless your “Oathbreaker” is in play and you have to pay the commander tax every time you cast either one, so the spell keeps getting more and more costly. It’s unsanctioned and I’ve never witnessed a game of it being played. Why should we care?

As near as I can figure, Oathbreaker did this because Terferi is disgusting in that format. I don’t know which delightful Canadian with a name like Whackity Smackelberry is responsible for this format or who keeps the banlist updated but for now, Teferi is teferrorizing people. I don’t know much but I know if it can make a card like this double, maybe other ‘walkers have some upside and maybe some signature spells do, too. Certainly Chain Veil combo is easier in a deck that starts the game with 51 cards in it when you’re a Blue deck whose signature spell could very well be Fabricate.

Is there anything else we can look at for potential?

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Jace + Tunnel Vision

This would be kind of funny and kind of brutal. Since the games are multiplayer, you need to do this trick more than once, probably, but it’s still pretty brutal and you can cough up the mana to recast Tunnel Vision for.. 8 mana? Jesus, OK. Still, Blue is good and Tunnel Vision… already went up? How did no one notice this?

The timing is too coincidental not to be related to Oathbreaker.

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I think there is room for Tunnel Vision to go up, though. It’s the same rarity as Doubling Season and has fewer printings. Just ‘saying. It’s an $8 foil, also. I think that’s easy money on easy mode. I think this is a $30 foil waiting to happen.

Narset + Windfall

New Narset is gnarly and nasty and this seems like a great way to slam Day’s Undoing, Windfall, Teferi’s Puzzle Box and other goodies in a deck where you draw your win conditions and they go down from a 3 mana Identity Crisis harder than Tim Drake’s Dad.

Despite hella printings, this is the only foil version of this card. Is Oathbreaker going to be a thing (I would say no, but look at Tunnel Vision) and if it is, will people who bought Windfall foils get a windfall of their own? Is there a chance they go up for some other reason? Is there a chance Windfall is in Modern Horizons? (nope). I think there is money to be made here, poisonally. But I like my blue foil cards ever since I said $1 was too cheap for Dramatic Reversal.

This has nothing to do with Oathbreaker, but checking in on Dramatic Reversal makes me want to check in on another card I feel just as strongly about – Arcane Denial. The art sucks but it’s in a lot of EDH decks and there is one foil printing. Denial is still under $4, up from the $1- $2 where I called it, but with potential to get to… $11 apparently. Just get that free money. There are enough copies for all of you Pro Traders with enough left over for me to actually buy some since I only bought like 4 Dramatic Reversal because I get squeamish about buying specs I write about. I give you the good stuff and leave myself with… well, collections which have a guaranteed return and are much more stable than specs. Still, though. Coulda dectupled up. You’re welcome. Lol, that’s a callback to earlier but it sounds pretty aggressive. I’m leaving it.

There is an entire Oathbreaker subreddit but it’s really tough to figure out what is durdly and what is concensus good. The subreddit is extremely hard to parse, there are no even results anywhere and EDHREC isn’t compiling Oathbreaker stuff (I’m not sure we should, BrawlREC was a lot of work, no one went to it and now Brawl seems dead). If anything else around this format pops up, I’ll let you all know, but for now, it seems like Blue tryhard cards are the best bets and most of them were already good. A few signature spells I have seen that aren’t good in EDH were

Argent Mutation with Dace Fayden.

Sorin’s Vengeance with Sorin Markov, and

Inspiring Call with Jiang Yanggu. Will any of this pan out? I don’t know. I feel good about all of that blue stuff I said earlier, and I’ll give Pro Traders a crack at Tunnel Vision before I think about if I should buy some. I probably won’t but only because it would look bad if I did. 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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Pro Trader: The Truth Is Revealed

Readers,

The truth has a way of revealing itself and that’s what happened this week. Last week, Tolsimir was the 3rd most popular commander on EDHREC and this week, Kefnet is 3rd. What happened? Well, like I said, the truth has a way of revealing itself and Kefnet is the truth.

The thing that makes Kefnet so special is that it’s a blue card and it is the kind of deck that tryhards, wannabe tryhards and the one guy who loves to rule his casual meta with an iron fist. Magic players love Blue, not just because card drawing and permission and extra turns are great but also because they usually aren’t that athletic and see themselves as having superior intellect. If your first impulse on reading that is to write a stern comment in the comments section, you’re proving my point. If your impulse is to fight me, good luck, I’ll defeat you with my superior intellect.

Since Kefnet is climbing the ranks of the decks built on EDHREC as well as climbing  the ranks of priciest card (second only to Bolas and behind the Japanese alternate art walkers) in an insane set, what is going on with this deck and is there any money to be made?

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ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

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Unlocked Pro Trader – War of the Spark Surprises

Readers,

There have been a few surprises gleaned from the (admittedly preliminary) data from EDHREC. Things you may not have predicted have panned out and it’s worth exploring things we might not have considered. For example, if I asked you to, without scrolling down, name the Top 3 commanders on EDHREC based on the first few hundred decks with War of the Spark cards submitted, I’m confident you’d get at least 1 if not two wrong. The obvious cards have popped already but there is stuff no one is even thinking about except for people building decks. Got your Top 3 in your head? Here’s the big reveal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprised? Yeah, you’re surprised. You probably nailed Feather – it’s #1 with a bullet. Niv you maybe got. But Tolsimir in the Top 3? Above Ilharg, Roalesk, Massacre Girl, Krenko, Fblthp, Oketra and Kefnet? There’s no way you guessed that. But if Tolsimir is going to be a Top 5 commander in the set, built half as much as Niv-Mizzet and twice as much as Oketra if current trends hold true, we should take a look at what’s in the deck because there could be some cards to get no play that are about to see some.

Here’s the page for all of War of the Spark ranked by raw number of inclusions. If you want to learn to find it yourself, go to EDHREC’s homepage, click on “sets” up top and select War of the Spark from the dropdown. You can also click on the full list to bring up a page with every set. You should take an hour to look at every single set some day to see which cards are used more or less than you thought. Everyone makes assumptions based on their limited experience, their own playgroup and their biases, but having data to re-center your point of view is useful and we’d be silly to ignore it. The War of the Spark page tells you the commanders with the most decks as well as how many decks each card is in as a part of the 99. As more data comes in, the picture will become clearer but for right now, let’s focus on Tolsimir decks and what go in them.

 Tolsimir Deets

I’m not super impressed with how everyone is building these decks and that’s likely a result of only casuals building the decks. That said, casuals tend to shop at Card Kingdom and if the cards sell out at Card Kingdom, they’ll raise their buylist price so it’s worth it to pull out any of these wolves you have in bulk or especially bulk rares. You were lucky to get a dime for Wolfbriar Elemental last week but if CK sells out at $0.35 or whatever they’re charging now, they’re cranking the price to $2 and they’ll be buying for $0.50 so it’s worth it to yank all bulk wolves and set them aside to see what happens to to them. Per the decklists I’m seeing, I’d yank the following bulk cards.

Commons

Rot Wolf (this shouldn’t be in your bulk, anyway, it has infect)

Young Wolf

Sacred Wolf

Nyxborn Wolf

Darkthicket Wolf

Uncommon

Wolfir Avenger

Watchwolf (FNM promos aren’t in bulk but have upside)

Briarpack Alpha

Fang of the Pack

Pack Guardian

Wolf-Skull Shaman

Raised by Wolves

Howl of the Night Pack

Bulk Rares

Wolfcaller’s Howl

Silverfur Partisan

Feed the Pack

Kessig Cagebreakers

Wolfir Silverheart

Wolfbriar Elemental

Spirit of the Hunt

Tolsimir Wolfblood

Wren’s Run Packmaster

Witchstalker

Skalla Wolf

If Tolsimir gets played as much as early data indicates, this stuff won’t be bulk in a while. Tribal decks are a draw for casual players and the deck is surprisingly potent, especially if you Ghostway your whole team in response to some removal and it all comes back and fights everything that survived.

I said I wasn’t too impressed with the builds because people aren’t trying to flicker their wolves, preferring to go heavy into tokens. I think tokens are pretty good because Green and White are the two colors that benefit the most with their Annointed Processions and their Cathar’s Crusades. There’s another reason it’s good to be in White if you’re both creating a lot of medium creatures and fighting a lot. You don’t have to fight fair.

Mark is a card that is on a second spike, a concept I talk about a lot. It means that the first time it spiked, rather than pay the new retail, people were able to find old copies at the old price at their LGS or trade them from people or just find them in their bulk rares. The market ferreted out all of the hidden copies and people buylisted them or sold them to players. When the card goes up again, there won’t be loose copies to satiate the sudden demand and people will have no choice but to pay retail, which will go up harder and faster. It’s a concept we see play out often, and given how brutal Mark is with Tolsimir, I expect this card to be tied to Tolsimir’s trajectory. You win every fight with Mark in play and that’s basically cheating.

Foils are below their historic high as well. The buylist is pretty funky-looking which happens when someone spikes the buy price to restock then drops it again when they get enough copies. I think both the foil and non-foils are a play because here at MTG Price, we like EDH foils. I think they’re a pain and take too long to sell, but if you’re dealing with 10 copies, you should have a fairly easy time outing 10 copies. Besides, the buylist price at one point got to what the retail price is today and if these go up again, you could make a few bucks per copy just selling them back to the buylist. I’m not touching foils but if you’re into that, these are like $4, which is basically what the non-foil spiked to.

Obelisk has been holding steady for a while and I think it’s due for a bump. Tolsimir is a pretty good deck for Obelisk – you don’t mind tapping tokens to cast it, your tokens power and toughness matter more than in most decks since they’ll be fighting the second they come in and it’s likely a budget deck so this is going to get the nod over more expensive buffs. This is also a 5 year old card at this point, is tough to reprint given its convoke ability and it’s an artifact which means it can go in any color tribal deck in the future. That’s all a recipe for decent value. I like this as a pickup now, especially if you trade for it.

Look at this crazy graph. Not only that, look at the fact that Door is like $5.50 on TCG Player. Want to know what’s almost $5.50?

Card Kingdom’s buy price. CK has these at $9, Strike Zone (yellow line on the graph) has them at $10, TCG Player has them  for basically CK’s buy price. If that doesn’t scream “impending price correction” I don’t know what does. I think if TCG Player sells out of Door, it gets relisted at $8.50-$9, which means CK sells out next and then the buy price goes up even more. If you’re into CK credit, I bet you can arb these pretty soon. I mean, you ALMOST can right now.

You know what almost never happens? This.

Do you see it? Keep looking until you see what I see. Give up?

It’s cheaper on Card Kingdom than it is on TCG Player. That’s weird. I checked – it’s legit.

It’s rare that this happens and hard to know why it happened or what to do about it. The Guild Kits were cracked to a much greater extent by people on TCG Player than by CK. I think the prices will converge but I don’t know which will change. All I know is that this card was printed 3 times and it’s still approaching $2 and that’s worth knowing about. If you’re heavy on tokens (and you likely are if you’re abusing Voja’s CIP ability with token doublers to KO a 12 toughness creature or 4 3/3s when you summon Tolsimir), this is a wrath that basically wins you the game. It also basically costs 3 mana if you have tokens galore, so remember that.

Tolsimir being in the Top 3 was a surprise and even if it doesn’t hold, it helped us identify a few cards that we should be thinking about and reminded us to yank wolves out of our bulk, so that’s a worthwhile endeavor to be sure. Keep checking EDHREC and stores like Card Kingdom which has a price integration deal with EDHREC so that people can buy directly from the site with one click for more price discrepancies like these.  Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Can’t Keep Sol Ring In Stock

Readers!

Today I want to talk about a commander that has far less impact than another but is an interesting case study in cumulative effects. If a commander isn’t as splashy as others but demands finite resources already in use, will enough people build the new deck while keeping the old deck together that a deck with lower individual demand can surpass another deck due to the nature of cumulative demand? Can we even measure that? We can try!

It’s no surprise that this flappy girl is flapping into the top spot in decklists. It’s powerful, obvious and gives Boros something it never had – tools to deal with usually falling way behind in card advantage. The numbers bear this out.

Second place for the week before the card even comes out is pretty strong, I think you’ll agree with me there. However, there’s a commander that didn’t even make the list, coming it fewer than Alesha’s paltry 37 lists this week that I think is more of the same and therefore isn’t as exciting but which could be a real boost to cards that already spiked once.

Roalesk’s 8 entries aren’t setting the world on fire, but with a few unique twists on the classic Simic “Here’s some +1/+1 counters for your creatures, you ugly idiots” scheme that we’re all used to, this could be a deck people build and, more importantly, don’t cannibalize their other decks to do it. If there are cards that are in a greater variety of decks that are very different and less likely to be torn apart, isn’t that information worth having, also?

We can’t really quantify how many people aren’t tearing their decks apart, but what we can do is see how many copies of a given card they’d need if they built every similar deck. Do people do this? Yes. I have Vorel, Pir and Toothy, Kydele//Thrasios and I’m building Roalesk. I also have Riku and Maelstrom Wanderer. You know how many FNM Coiling Oracles that is? A lot. Me needing one Aurelia’s Fury ever is good to know but me needing 5 copies of Inexorable Tide is worth looking into as well.

This is the first in a series where I start to set the record straight about EDHREC data. As the person who was the first one to use the data in MTG Finance analysis articles and also the person who feels compelled to clean up the mess when other writers use the data irresponsibly or capriciously. I’m not going into a ton of depth today but I will say that anyone who says “This card is in 4,000 decks on EDHREC” and leaves that out there like it means something probably don’t know what they’re doing, they just saw me work for 5 years developing an analytical method and summarized it as “say how many decks a card is in” which is flattering because at least they’re thinking of me. The raw number is almost meaningless on its own and I’m going to spend the rest of this series talking about how much more analysis goes into my picks than that throwaway bit of ex post facto justification.

If someone is a lunatic like me, how many decks are going to run their staples? I’m going to look at the Simic decks someone may have and if they have more than one, cards they’ll need spare copies of if they want to build Roalesk.

Fake FAQ Time

Q: What about people who proxy cards and keep one copy, jamming it only in the deck they’re playing at the time?

A: Don’t care, can’t measure that.

Q: What about people who take their decks apart?

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A: Don’t care, can’t measure that.

Q: Why are you doing this if you can’t quantify it?

A: Do you think the number of people who will buy a new Doubling Season for Roalesk if they already have Pir and Toothy built is 0?

Q: … I guess not?

A: Are we good here?

Q: That wasn’t an answer, that was a question?

A: Oh, right. OK. We’re good here. Period.

Before I get into the stuff that’s in every Simic counters deck, I want to throw a few Roalesk-specific cards in so it’s enough like a normal article that you’re still glad you’re a Pro Trader getting this early.

Looking at CK prices, this is down from its all-time high, and wouldn’t you know it, that peak was when they printed Commander Anthology 2. Anthology really undermined the confidence in the price and it’s beginning to recover, especially buylist price with a potential arbitrage opportunity happening recently. Blade is a really good Roalesk card because the Legend rule gives you a ton of proliferate triggers and the ETB triggers are pretty sexy, too. In short, Roalesk is the best Blade of Selves deck in history. These aren’t going to be easy at all to reprint and if they dodge a printing in Commander 2020, which I think is likely, this is a $15 card. Easy double-up here at least if you can scoop the $5 copies.

Roalesk is the best Blade of Selves deck ever which makes it the best Sage of Hours deck since Ezuri. Are you going to take Ezuri, a different deck that has its own unique quirks, apart to build this? You might, but I’m not going to and this demand could be cumulative if enough people don’t. Even if it’s 1% of Roalesk builders, it’s still more powerful than people using Aurelia’s Fury for the first and last time, and those people buying Fury are less likely to buy multiple copies for future decks the way Simic players have begun to become conditioned to.

I need to learn to have more faith in my picks that take a minute to get there. I used to look at the price of Regal Behemoth when it was like $1 every few weeks and it wasn’t moving and I said “I guess I missed on this one” and that was dumb. Behemoth got there. This will, too. After all IT’S IN 9307 DECKS ON EDHREC!!!!!!!111eleven

Now that I’ve written what amounts to an entire article, I need to quickly get to my thesis before your eyes glaze over.

When you look at a card on EDHREC, if you’re not sure what to look for, it’s easy to fixate on the number at the top of the page –

And ignore the numbers lower down on the same page.

It’s important to look at how the copies are distributed and whether someone is likely to take apart an old deck to make a new one. Someone who has a copy of Doubling Season in Pir and Toothy might just take that whole deck apart to build Roalesk but someone with doubling season in Rhys is unlikely to scrap the Rhys deck to build Atraxa. If a new deck is functionally different from the old one, the odds that someone will buy a second copy rather than repurposing the one they already have goes up.

Also, there is a bit of an age bias here. Players have had much longer to build Rhys than they have Roalesk so newer decks won’t show up on the top. It’s been a pretty long time since anyone built a new Marath deck, for example. The best bet if you’re going to look at the cumulative effect on similar decks is to manually go to each commander’s page. It takes a minute but it is worth it to gather the data we need.

Here’s Vorel and Ezuri.

Here’s Pir and Toothy and 118 more decks, almost half of the ones in the database.

Here’s Zegana.

Here’s Experiment Kraj.

A lot of these decks are pretty similar in build and it’s likely a lot of them were torn apart when a newer, more exciting +1/+1 counter commander came along.

Our experience with Doubling Season has shown us that there is quite a bit of demand across a lot of very similar decks and it pales in comparison to the demand from just Atraxa. If someone tears apart Experiment Kraj to build Roalesk, you’re not creating new demand for Doubling Season, but who’s tearing apart Atraxa for Roalesk? Or Trostani?

Doubling Season is a card that is more likely to experience renewed demands from the printing of Roalesk because a lot of Doubling Season’s copies are not in Simic decks. The opposite kind of card? How about the card I clicked on to get a list of all of the Simic +1/+1 counter decks because I knew it would be in all of them?

That’s right. I am talking about this buffy boi.

In 7,411 decks, you can see the distribution above if you zoom in. If you’re reading this on a phone like a lunatic, I’ll tell you that while Atraxa is #1 and the combined pile of Ezuri runs half as many copies but the rest of the decks are all pretty close in number. Master Biomancer is going in basically every Roalesk deck if the person is smart, but is anyone going to leave a very similar deck together to make Roalesk? They’re not tearing apart Animar or The Mimeoplasm, but Ezuri and Momir Vig are less safe. Bear that in mind when you look at the number of decks a card is in and think you get to stop there.

That does it for me this week. I’ll try and do another hybrid “Here’s how I used EDHREC for this new commander” and “Everyone else is using EDHREC data wrong” article. Join me, won’t you?

 

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