Category Archives: Jason Alt

Pro Trader: Timmy Stuff


I haven’t covered the same product two weeks ago in this series and I feel like that sentence can replace the normal paragraph I write above the fold in this series where I express incredulity that my favorite thing in the world could make me feel this consistently terrible. If you’re not like me and you’re capable of only caring about the stuff you care about, you’re probably thrilled that there have never been more chances to buy products and build new decks. The thing is, the best specs are the ones that don’t rely on Commander only, they rely on other formats. Typically a format like Modern will feature a card and a combination of some Modern or Pioneer to a lesser extent (for now, I guess) play with Commander play bodes well for a card. You know what is better than Modern? A format played by the majority of Magic players. The answer is not Commander, believe it or not. No, the format enjoyed by the vast, vast majority of people who play Magic the Gathering is the format “63 unsleeved card I own” and it has been sweeping the nation since 1993. These players are the lifeblood of the game, and while they mostly buy boosters at Walmart, these players are very aware of the internet and how to use it and they buy cards. Caring what cards they buy can help us spec better, and today I want to talk about the casualest casual kind of casual concepts for decks – Lifegain.

Actually, I should have buried the lede under the fold to entice people to sign up for Pro Trader. Let me take that again.

Today I want to talk about… wait, that won’t work. OK, so the cat is out of the bag, I guess. Today I want to talk about lifegain cards, specifically for a deck that is coming out soon or is out already, I am not sure which.

Monks and Lifegain? Is there a more Timmier thing possible? I don’t know if there is, but I’m very excited to see where this goes. In addition to kind of wanting to build the deck, I want to see if there are any Timmy cards in the deck.

Oh yeah. We can work with this.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: More than Meets the Eye


We got dese dumb Transformah decks and I think they’ll do… not nothing? I expected more impact from the Street Fighter Secret Lairs and it seems like there are finally so many products that large numbers of people cannot be relied upon reasonably to engage with all of them. It’s great that not every product is for everyone, but how do we guess which products are for no one? People are going to buy these Transformers cards, sue, and some of them might even play EDH. However, I have no idea whether this will matter enough to sell singles. I’m going to do what I have always done hoping things just click or I figure out the next technique, but I feel a ton of instability in my life right now and it’s making me worry about everything I used to believe in.

I am going to act as though I think these Transformers cards will impact the game to enough of an extent that prices move, something that Street Fighter hasn’t really borne out yet. I’m hoping the Transformers stuff is important, but if it’s not, all I did was waste an article slot. You will have spent money. I am not telling you I don’t believe in my picks because I’m a bad at this, rather I am saying that I don’t have the normal confidence in the premise of this being a worthwhile exercise – I will identify picks the same way I always do. As always, there is risk – if this was easy money, everyone would do it and I would be a carpenter or something. Anyway, let’s do that thing we do.

We have a whopping 15 commanders in this product. It’s a lot of cards. I don’t know, I hate this, what do you want from me?

Let’s go in order of popularity until we stop wanting to, shall we?

High Synergy card piles are starting to look like the first 10 cards reprinted the next time they do a precon, something they do 11 times a year now. I don’t know, it’s really hard to be excited about these staples, especially when half of them were in a precon to begin with.

This is a real Timmy card and at $2 for a mythic and $4 for an EA mythic, I think we are basically at the floor. You can get these from TCG Player for basically buylist. I don’t know what the future holds, but a big, dumb, dorky creature like this that makes so much power is great, especially in a deck where you’ll creature 12 pre-combat effortlessly. Flame Rift gives you 12 mana in this deck, you’ll be farting out huge creatures in no time.

This is an absurd card, held in check by its high CMC in a deck where colorless mana is as abundant as water. I’m into this in the format in general. The biggest reason for some of these cards not doing better is people have never seen them before. I suspect Bronze Guardian hasn’t been seen much and any card that can go from $2 to $10 because it was on Game Knights is worth keeping an eye on, and you can keep a very close eye on them if they’re in a pile on your desk like all of my specs.

Why would this price go down before it goes up? This card is insane. Unfortunately, it’s one of only like 20 cards worth more than $3 from those precons, so…. whee. Does that make the buy-in higher than I’d like? A bit, but it won’t matter in a year.

I have told you and told you to get this card – I sure hope you listened! It’s half on TCG what they want on CK so, that’s something. I love this card and I don’t know why it’s hasn’t been reprinted, but I have basically made money on this card 3 times so it’s about time I lost all of it, I guess. This isn’t a buy because of Optimus Prime decks, but it’s not like those hurt.

The guy that turns into an 80s ghetto blaster is the third most popular, go figure.

So here is another troubling concept.

Curiosity Crafter was shown on Game Knights, to great effect I might add. It spiked accordingly, and hard. It fell way, way off – not settling midway between the spike and pre-spike price, but rather at barely twice it. Buying in at $1 trying to cash out at $2 is hard work, so you need to be ready to pull the trigger and list when they start to pop for $15. Are you that nimble? This is the best case scenario for a lot of specs. Seems stressful, right? This is how you make actual money on a $1 card, though.

I have made money on this card this year, but I’m not ruling out buying back the same copies from CK that I buylisted to them and trying again now that CK retail is below what I buylisted them for. I hope I see my same old copies and get to get paid for babysitting them again. Other cards that do this a lot are Teferi’s Puzzle Box, Anvil of Bogardan and Sunforger. Feels good to sell a company cards you just bought from it for more than you paid, it’s arbitrage without a third part. The dream.

This is the absolute floor for this card. It tanking because of a reprint rather than loss of adoption makes it basically impossible this ever sees $40 again, but what do you want for a seven dollar and forty cent buy-in?

That does it for me this week, nerds. Thanks for reading. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Brother Vs Brother 2: The Rebrothering


I hope I did a good job conveying that this week’s article has something to do with last week’s article, which you have of course read. If not, do read it because the tips in there will apply a ton still and some of the lessons in there are ones I’d prefer not to have to repeat. If you read last week’s article, perhaps you know that last week I discussed Urza and Mishra decks as potential sources for specs. I want to make sure you read last week’s article, because this week I am going to discuss Urza and Mishra decks are potential sources for specs and I want to make it clear that last week I was discussing Urza and Mishra cards that are different from the Urza and Mishra cards I’m discussing today and I’m just so, so tired. Over at EDHREC, somehow in our set review we remembered the main set, the EDH decks, but forgot the EDH-only cards in Set and Collector Boosters. Like, I get that it was my job to check that, and I shouldn’t be copping to it publicly but yeah, I didn’t remember to tell every single one of my writers they needed to check 5 different spoilers to make sure they reviewed every “White” card in the set, I guess I must be the one who’s doing it wrong. So yeah, I have amped up my griping about how many new products there are, but you can’t tell me this is healthy or sustainable.

EDHREC decided to make a change to the dropdown on the site.

Going to only 5 sets didn’t, and I am not making this up, give people a chance to see the set on the list of newest sets after the product was released. The schedule is a lot. I’m not talking about this because it makes me feel a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety about the future of the game that has been my entire career focus for a decade. That’s all true, but that’s not why I mention it. I mention it because I have to type something before I show you data so I can cut it off at the paywall until Thursday and I thought what better than to show off the new site dropdown and remind people that, yes, I did talk about Urza and Mishra last week, but it’s cool that I’m going to talk about Urza and Mishra this week because they’re completely different Urza and Mishra and I guess I wanted to let everyone know I thought that sentence could serve as a punchline if you’re properly primed. Are you good and ready to get some finance advice? I’m about to shut the curtain to first class if anyone wants to become a Pro Trader real quick so they don’t have to wait 48 hours for all of this hot finance info in a world where in 48 hours from now Warhamer 40K might get bumped off our “new sets” dropdown. Commander 2023 will be spoiled 48 hours from now, get with it.

OK, now that I’ve said both that all of my finance info from last week is still good and actionable and also that you can’t wait 48 hours for the tips in this article, it’s time to give you some data so you don’t send me dog shit in the mail because I made you read the last 2 paragraphs and your time is more valuable than mine is. I already knew that, I was just talking about how I don’t think I will have a job in a year.

You know who WILL have a job in a year? Whoever designed this Urza.

My thought process when I saw Sai, Master Thopterist and its price was “Man, would Sai be $5 if it hadn’t gotten reprinted? I should check that other guy…. what’s his name? You know, from Kaladesh? Padma something? You know what, I wouldn’t even know what to google, I’ll just look at the rest of the annnnnd there he is.”

I said “he” in the last paragraph but I actually have no idea what Padeem’s deal is, but it’s a good Magic card to have, I think. And yes, the answer to my Sai question is “maybe it would have hit $5 and maybe stayed there” based on Padeem’s graph.

These cards are nearly identical in how much they are played. If you look at Sai, you can either say “Well, I guess Padeem is an identical spec so instead of being sad Sai got a reprint, I have a spec to buy still” or say “So I could lose half my money overnight if this gets reprinted?” I think Padeem isn’t getting reprinted soon and I think it’s going to be a $5 card minimum when we get like 40 Artifact sets next year. Padeem only has to dodge reprints in the first half of the year for you to cash out until your spec was free and you doubled your investment and you can play Powerball with the rest of those Kadeems that won’t even be worthless but will apparently be $1.50.

The reprinting of Archmage in Jumpstart made the graph do this. It seems to me like the price reacted like it was predicated on scarcity-based demand, not demand-based scarcity like we like. But, like, if this hit $15 based on demand from basically just Breya for a while, a Jumpstart-worth of new copies can keep it from hitting $20 ever but I don’t know if you can’t triple up at a $2.50 buy-in on TCG Player right now. This could eat a reprint, though, because they love to forget about a card for like a decade, realize it’s expensive and then print it like 5 times. I hope that doesn’t happen here, this card sees some play.

I think these inclusion numbers are a little skewed and when Breya fever was at its pitch, these were played more than they are now, the tail-end of Emry and Urza, Grand Artificer decks being in the EDHREC database. I am pitching “all of EDHREC data ever” as a perk for people who subscribe to the EDHREC patreon and if that can happen, the value of the site for finance goes up even more. But I suspect that if you read my articles, you’re just listening to a butcher tell you about his special signature sausage spice blend and you literally couldn’t care less about how much star anise I use (just a leeeeeetle smidgen) and you want to just buy a sausage and get out of here. If you dabble in sausagenanigans (my Mom is a chef and that’s literally what it’s called I think), though, seeing cards trend in usage over time would be very valuable.

If I had a sweet tweet or excerpt from an article where I said to get this when it was a buck, I’d post it right here but I don’t have one. This is a $7 card masquerading as a nearly bulk rare because the set it was in was unhinged. This is much better than the other Sieges but people who don’t play a ton of EDH and some people who do play a ton of EDH don’t know this at a glance from the others. This is a buy imo.

I meant it, different Urza and Mishra. I feel like I’m trapped under an avalanche of cardboard.

I am so charmed by this card that I hadn’t read before just now because I literally just can’t keep up, that maybe I’m overvaluing how good it will be based on just this one deck, but I think that most Red-based Artifact decks make tokens and getting free value every turn seems really solid for a buck for a good-looking Extended Art card. I like this and I don’t want to say “I wish I had said to buy this at a buck and didn’t” because I’m saying it now, which means…I am probably wrong about this card… I don’t think I am, if you do, buy accordingly.

I forgot to tell you to buy the dip, but it seems like there was no dip to buy. This is a $10 card if it’s not reprinted.

I usually do 5 picks but then it will be uneven between Urza and Mishra and also this article was a lot of non-finance so I’ll give you a bonus pic but I’m not going to talk about it, I’m going to end the article here and just like post a pic of the graph of a card I like. Or do I dislike it? No lol, it would be messed up to do that. Here’s a spec based on Mishra I like. Probably.

Unlocked Pro Trader: Brother Vs. Brother


There are (slightly) more Brother’s War previews. More importantly, there is significantly more data for cards we already knew about, which is upon what I’d like to focus tonight. I’ll be honest, I’d love to be able to focus at all. I yelled myself hoarse for 8 hours watching Battlebots on Friday, got 8 hours sleep total the whole time I was there and ate sushi that was under a heat lamp in a 7/11. I’m not feeling my absolute best but if you think for a second our Pro Traders aren’t getting both barrels of the MTG Finance cannon this week just because I’m feeling a little like I was in the desert where drugs and alcohol are thank you gifts for losing money at craps and a Gatorade is $6.59 in the hotel, you’re sorely mistaken. Not as sore as the left side of my neck for some reason, but sore all the same. Let’s get this preamble paragraph wrapped up in a bow so I can dump a bunch of high quality picks on you then got to bed before midnight like a cartoon mouse who was turned into a stagecoach for the night or something. I don’t know. That movie came out before I was born I think. I’m not going to look that up because as we said, I’m not at my best. Remember Doc Ellis pitching a no-hitter on LSD? Well I’m not on LSD. This is going to be a many-hitter, and not just because the cards I pick are going to be hits, either. Also the reason you thought of first. Let’s do something data before I write a 2,000 word opening paragraph and go eat handfuls of shredded fiesta blend cheese and stare at the label on the apple cider.

An Old Dog Learns New Tricks

Just kidding, I just wanted a paragraph heading to break up the text. There is literally nothing new here despite a few more decks being added. I think the deck will be good, and popular, but it won’t be the most popular in a world where there is a card bearing the name “Urza.” Why am I giving you a whole paragraph on a card I don’t want to talk about again? I already told you, to break up the wall of text.

Pro tip – trying to pad a long essay? A few graphics go a long way. Next time the teacher should assign a word count and not a page count. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to set my font to 37 and increase the margins to 9 inches.

While this card isn’t giving us anything new, really, the old stuff is quite good and I think you should go back to last week where I talked about it. Don’t fear, there is plenty of gas in the other two commanders we have decks for.

Urza is Next

I’m bad at using the subheading tool, I literally have no idea what I should write there. Urza is next, but you could have figured that out using your peripheral vision. This isn’t going great, I can feel people looking at that red X in the corner. Don’t do that, I’ll give you specs, I promise. Just give me like 10 second to see if burping makes this stomach ache go away.

Yeah, it’s Urza. Yeah, it’s artifacty. This is going to make some old cards go up a lot and after it happens, everyone will be like “Well, yeah, artifact set, what did you THINK was going to happen?” but I don’t see any of those people actually saying now what they think is going to happen, so I will. I think Artifacts are going to be big business next year. Let’s look at Urza for guidance on which ones.

There is a very good case for a few of these, not the least of which is

Could this hit $10? I mean, maybe. It has a very robust play profile on EDHREC (34-35k decks – not too shabby) and it’s cheap and it’s half of its historic high. These are literally all of the things I want one or two of in a spec and this has all of them. Seems like a slam dunk, provided this isn’t reprinted. If it is, it may take some time but it will shrug the printing off. Cards with Improvise in Brother’s War would really surprise me, though- I’m betting against it happening.

This was $30 for an entire day – what if that day could be some time in November or December and this time you’re a seller at $30 and not a buyer at $15? It’s just a thought. I can’t guarantee this will go nuts, but if you bought everything I said about Whir of Invention, I don’t know why you’d start nitpicking when it came to a card with an identical case made for it. These spiked and went right back down which means dealers are stuck with these. When you buy before the spike, you’ll sneakily get a lot of copies. When you sell into the hype, the dealers you got these from for $3 will buy them from you and the cycle will feel complete. Why pick a side between Mishra and Urza when you can be the one selling weapons to both sides? Which would make you the CIA….

This will absolutely shrug off this recent printing as surely as I was right about this hitting $10. I was wrong, though – it went to $12 before it was reprinted, not $10. I feel more shame about that than you could possibly ever make me feel, so don’t even bother trying.

Mishra is doing artifacty stuff, too, you know.

Tell Me About That Artifacty Stuff

Woof, I will literally pay someone from the community to write headlines for me. That did not feel good at all.

Mishra is a deck I would build Goblin tribal, personally. You need a wide swath of expendable bodies and you want to be doing artifact stuff to tutor for Phyrexian Dragon Engine; this is a very goblin deck. Still, you don’t want to know how I’d build it, do you, or you’d read my article series every Thursday on Coolstuff your source for cool stuff and hot other stuff. It’s free to read my articles over there. I’m not saying I don’t get enough readers over there. I actually have no idea, they won’t tell me. Could be a lot. Could be I should be telling those people to come here. Right, you want to know what people are playing.

I see a bit of a Goblin theme here. If Krenko is getting played, what about Krenko?

If the only thing you did in MTG Finance was ride the waves of $5 buy-ins and $10 cash-outs Krenko gets you, you would make a few bucks per copy per year, seems like. This still shrugs off printings, and since it rarely gets below $5, I like it at $5 and I’m not going to apologize for it.

If this spikes again, it will be to $12 and it will stay there, mostly. I think we missed the biggest opportunity to get these for $1 and sell them to a buylist for $2.25, but the buylist on these has never bee higher. $3 for these on CK with the buylist at $2.50 and a new excuse to play Goblins, plus the possibility of the non-EDH interaction that made it spike in 2021 re-occuring makes this a slam dunk imo.

Sets are all busted, now. Green is getting a card that turns Rampant Growth into a better Sylvan Scrying among other bonkers cards. Once people start to brew, next week’s article is going to be wall-to-wall gas, Until then, check out the Brother’s War stuff on EDHREC – there are more picks than the ones I wrote about. Until next time!