Category Archives: Jason Alt

Pro trader: Docked and Loaded

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Commander 2020 is fully spoiled and the search is on for this year’s “one card to bother speculating on” because the last two years of commander precons have been so bad, people just assume that’s how this works, now. People seem to have entirely lost confidence in WotC’s ability to make precons we care about, and based on the last two years, it’s sort of easy to see why.

Here is everything worth more than $2 from Commander 2019.

Here is the list from Commander 2018.

These are both pretty short lists. Both times, the second-most-expensive card is a generic Green staple with multiple other printings. Both times the list is roughly half reprints despite each deck containing 15 new cards. Obviously, the sets have been opened to death and they’re very available so it would be difficult to have another situation like in the past. Commander 2017 has 7 cards worth more than $10 and the Commander 2016 Atraxa precon sells for $150, even if it’s just the shrinkwrapped deck from the Commander Anthology set. Is it just a matter of time for Commander 2018 and 2019 or do those decks just suck so bad that no amount of waiting will improve things? I have a feeling that it’s more the latter than the former.

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ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

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unlocked Pro Trader: Embrace The Tank

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“Embrace the tank” is a phrase I see a lot on social media because I am from Michigan and the Detroit Red Wings are terrible this year. Had the season not ended, they may have ended up one of the worst teams of all time. Just truly, truly abominable. I’m of course happy because the same friends who want to “tank” the season (not even try so they get last place and have the best odds of drafting 1st overall) were bragging about a 25 year streak of making the playoffs a few years ago and I’m petty. If fans of a team that made the playoffs 25 years in a row can embrace the tank, why can’t we?

You’ve Got Red On You

Card prices are tanking fairly hard. If we’re going to be greedy when others are fearful, we still need to be smart about it. It’s for this reason that I think EDH cards are the way to go. Since EDH is a casual format, people are able to play it on webcam with their friends whereas people can’t really play competitive formats in paper, which insulates EDH card prices. These months of extended social distancing will help a lot of people transition out of paper into digital but with EDH on Arena still impossible, paper EDH is further insulated. Finally, non-rotating formats will benefit as cards lose months of their limited Standard-playable window to a lack of tournament play. All of this bodes well for EDH and we’re seeing that borne out – EDH buylist prices recovered from the initial hit all buylist prices took better than any other format because of course they did.

I’m not going to waste either of our time belaboring this point as you’d much rather talk about cards I think will be good pickups longer term and which have tanked recently. Let’s highlight 5 cards I think are good “Be greedy when others are fearful” buys.

Call is down pretty significantly in the wake of the reprinting in both Masters 25 and Modern Horizons, but more importantly, it’s down about 33% in the last two weeks, which is above average for cards in EDH. This is is the 48th-most-played card in the last 2 years per EDHREC and reprintings have made it more accessible and therefore more popular, which only grows its demand. No one wanted to pay $15 for this, but at $3 or below, you scoop these. It’s likely done getting printed for a while and I think the Corona divot will even out as soon as everything starts to get bought again.

This price tanked so much I opened up a new tab just to double check it wasn’t in Mystery Boosters. Nope. Just one printing, and this week Strike Zone is selling it for literally half of what Card Kingdom was charging two weeks ago. If you can get these for anywhere near $10, I think you do it. I would wait until we get the full decklists from the Ikoira commander products spoiled and THEN do it. The leaked Symbiotic Swarm list didn’t have this, it had Heliod’s Intervention, but I’m not 100% convinced that list is real and there could be another Green deck. Buy smart, we have lots of time.

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This went from $40 to $30 solely on the basis of… well the entirely world being on fire and everything being terrible, but my point is that this will be $40 flirting with $50 unless people realize they have to pay back the $1,200 checks they’re getting. a 25% hit to a very popular card in multiple formats can’t be sustained unless the entire Magic economy doesn’t recover and if it doesn’t, what are we even doing here?

Without support from other sets, this is a card whose fate is solely tied to EDH, which I think is a good thing. The EDH economy will continue to be strong for the reasons I enumerated above. Also, I’m running out of things to say about cards all experiencing the same circumstances. Here’s a card that was on its way to $20 and now it’s $10 some places. Can you find these for $8? Buy them off people locally for $5? This is a Top 100 card on EDHREC and it says Tutor in its name.

For comparison’s sake, I included one card that I think has a strong chance at a rebound and was included in Mystery Boosters and I’ll talk about a few things regarding the difference.

Verdict does get play in multiple formats, which is good, but the EDH demand is very robust and enough to move the price if it needs to. This was flirting with $20 before the Mystery Boosters hit shelves and I think the supply from those is a bit overstated. The introduction of copies is going to be much flatter than most sets because big stores are closed, people aren’t super keen to head to the LGS if it’s even open and money is tight right now. Copies will hit the market slowly and I think that will buoy recovery because supply will seem less than it is.

Verdict lost 50% of its value between Mystery Boosters and COVID and that’s about twice what we’ve seen for non-Mystery-Booster EDH staples. Troll and Toad has these under $5, which is closer to a 75% price reduction. If that happens across the board for Mystery Boosters cards, there might be more buying opportunities in that set than we think. In fact, I think I’ll address that more in depth next week. If prices rebound the way they typically do, it will end up halfway between the pre- and post-spike price, which will be a reduction of about 38%, which is the worst we’ve seen for just COVID reductions. If that’s the case, you stand to recover even more value if we’re seeing two different factors reducing the price, one of which works itself out naturally and the other of which is temporary. I think there is more demand for this card at $5 than at $20 and if I wasn’t going to include any Mystery Booster cards to avoid having to type this paragraph and risk being wrong about all of this later but included this card anyway, that should tell you how I feel about scooping these at $5, which is absurdly cheap.

That does it for me. Who knows what will happen in a week? If I am able and allowed, I’ll be back next week with more ideas and I hope you’ll join me. Thanks for reading. Until next time!

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Pro Trader: Rebounding

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I usually have a lot of preamble just because I like to type a bit to get into the mood before I bang out an article. It’s my process. You remember that movie Finding Forrester where Sean Connery has the main character type his work and then once he’s had a running start, write his own thing? This has nothing to do with that, I just usually write a paragraph where I tell you what the article’s about but I spent so much time talking about how it’s going to be a shorter paragraph than normal that it isn’t anymore so I guess never mind. Anyway, the point of the article is that there are cards in Mystery Boosters that will probably tank and go back up and some that will tank and not go back up. A lot of obvious factors like a rarity shift don’t need to be explained, but some cards recover better than others and we need to try and figure out all of the factors that matter and which apply. Sound boring? Well, it’s not. I did one of these articles when Iconic Masters came out and Austere Command hit a buck. Did you buy any when that happened?

I’m not going to catch a dectuple up on all of these, but I’ll sure try not to miss something obvious. So what kind of card always recovers?

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Unlocked Pro Trader: The Sequel To Last Week

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Go read last week’s article and the one from the week before if you haven’t yet or need your memory refreshed. I’m sort of eager to just get into it.

We identified War of the Spark and Core 2020 as having a lot of potential, but based on those criteria, Shadows over Innistrad and Ixalan actually have the most potential. Are we waiting for them to pop or do we just not know what we’re talking about?

In any case, let’s look at Ixalan because there are bound to be interesting cards in that set, even with them randomly yanking the rug out by reprinting cards like Revel in Riches. Let’s begin.

I wouldn’t have predicted a year ago that Gishy would be the number 1 commander, but here we are. There are a lot of EDH “staple” type cards here which means they’ll be somewhat easy to reprint, which may attenuate a lot of our potential growth here, but let’s look at what matters in any case.

This is a little tricky to reprint and I think this shows that the best time to buy in was peak supply, as is always the case. That said, this is going to be an important EDH fixture forever and this could hit $20 despite it doing a very bad, clunky impression of Gaea’s Cradle. It turns out Growing Rites of Itilmoc is sort of like Frank Caliendo’s impression of Casey Kasem – it sort of sucks but it’s the best thing we’ve got and we should recognize that.

I liked this a lot as a bulk rare and picked up a ton of copies and while it’s not rising as much as I would have liked and seems to have plateaued a bit, it’s tough to reprint, is very powerful, and there’s every chance a new card gets printed that makes this $10 overnight. Barring that, this slowly climbs to $5 and I’m OK with that.

This card is 100% getting a reprint, probably soon. When it does, buy in hard. The price will tank in the near term and I need you to know that I’m betting my own money that this recovers. For whatever reason, they don’t seem to be able to print something stronger than this in a Standard set. If you make it better, it’s too good unless the set has no tribes and they wouldn’t print something like this in a set with no tribes. Players want this card and they’ll always build tribal. I’m not that bullish on its current price, but if a reprint comes along soon, I’m all in.

Compass is in the process of selling out and with double-sided cards particularly tricky to reprint, expect this to hold value well. While you’re at it, why not look at the promo editions that had the treasure maps on the back? Those are Ugin’s fate tier promos and basically unreprintable, but they’ll also shrug off reprints of the regular versions.

Briefly, other cards I like include Spell Swindle, Herald of Secret Streams, Settle the Wreckage, Arcane Adaptation, River’s Rebuke and Primal Amulet. 

In fact, there’s a good case to be made for buying quite a few copies of Arcane Adaptation.

That little blip was when people thought about using Turntimber Ranger to generate an infinite number of tokens. Anything that can mess with tribal affiliations like this will always get tested and has the capacity to spike to $5. If it could hit $5 when it was in print, imagine how high it would go now if some other new card made it relevant again. Is Thassa’s Oracle THAT much better than Laboratory Maniac and Jace that Inverter went from a non-deck to Tier 1 overnight? Maybe yes, maybe not. Either way, Inverter went banana pancakes, as did bad cards like Paradigm Shift when Oracle came out. They won’t stop making tribal stuff because it’s an easy way to appeal to casuals and competitive players alike and with Arcane Adaptation gettable for literally a tenth of a Euro on MKM, it’s not the worst idea in the world to throw a few European monopoly bucks at 100 copies or so to make you look like a genius in a year or two when they accidentally make this a $10 card. It could get reprinted, in which case you’re barely out anything, otherwise you look like Nostradamus. If you must speculate, speculate in this manner, I beg.

Speaking of begging, please comment on this article. I’m going to be stuck in my house for 2 months and I need some diversion. I’ve watched everything worth watching on Netflix and Prime so I either talk with you about cards or I rewatch 6 Feet Under or something. I know what I’m voting for. Until next week!

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