Category Archives: Jason Alt

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

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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?

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?

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A: Are we good here?

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

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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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Unlocked Pro Trader: The Next Big Thing

Readers!

It sure looks like the world of EDH finance is moving a lot faster than it used to. Back before I popularized the EDHREC method, we used to have weeks to months to wait for people to fine-tune their decks and while that’s still the case, we’re also seeing very, very early spikes in “obvious” cards for these decks. People used to not bother because most of the finance community thought EDH was for, to quote an mtg finance thought leader earlier on twitter, “filthy casuals.”

Everyone plays EDH these days and everyone who is successful at MtG finance these days recognizes that EDH is the primary price mover in Magic. It can’t always spike cards as hard as other formats but it certainly moves a wider array of prices, lends some cross-format applicability to the cards spiked by other formats and doesn’t rotate or have the kind of ban-risk other formats have. If we can get over the FOMO of seeing other people leap at cards like Aurelia’s Fury and just stick to our fundamentals, there is plenty of actual, sustainable, non-speculative money to be made. Aurelia’s Fury is going to spike hard because it’s obvious but it’s not likely to hold the price it peaks at because the amount of play it gets will be high but not as high as the hype.

Hype fades, let’s aim for sustainability.

Luckily the world of EDHREC data is moving a bit faster these days and we have a few lists to work with before the spoilers. It’s still early and people who are very early builders can skew the data a lot so it’s best to regard it with caution so I’m going to mostly ignore the numbers. What I’m aiming at is ideas right now – cards builders find that the average person who knows EDH players will want Feather, some lands, probably a Sol Ring and an Aurelia’s Fury but couldn’t fill in the rest of the list won’t be able to figure out. Let’s leverage our tools, shall we?

The set isn’t even spoiled and we have 11 Ilharg, the Raze Boar decks to look at. Ilharg could be this set’s Nikya, something the speculator community isn’t as keen on but which will end up being more popular than a deck they are more keen on. I think Feather is an exception in that it’s hype because the cards are obvious and also hype because the deck is just going to be fun and interesting to play – it’s Teysa Karlov and Vannifar in one. So what’s the set’s Nikya? Let’s look at what Ilharg has spiked already.

Blighty was already on its way up but this sort of cemented it. This card badly needs a reprint and unfortunately, during the time period it would have needed to have been noticed to get us a reprint anytime soon, its price was creeping up slowly (CK in pink, best industry buylist [probably also CK] in blue) and now it’s making a sprint for $100 like some giant monster just put it into play tapped and attacking for, you know, lethal.

Ilharg hype contributed to this move and while this card is “obvious” I think there’s more to uncover here and 11 decks may not tell us the proper ratios of inclusion but it can tell us what 11 people are going to buy and that number will grow every day.

I tend to avoid Legendary creatures because being a commander isn’t always enough in my view, but look at those numbers already. Neheb generates a ton of mana which makes him just as good in the 99 as he is in the command zone. Ilharg is a mana-hungry deck because if Ilharg goes down you need to cast those fatties and not only that, you can really get ahead by casting stuff on top of the freebie every turn. Neheb is at an all-time high but being a Legendary creature significantly lowers his reprint risk IMO so I think this is a pretty good play. You can’t make a ton buying in above $7 but I think the growth is significant and it’s unlikely to slow with a new Mono-Red fatties commander being printed.

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Malignus is an odd mix of casual raw power and appeal, being old, being a mythic and not being that expensive. It doesn’t get played in a ton of decks but in the decks where it is played, it’s an all star. It’s up irrespective of Ilharg hype and I see it as a strong contender to move some more.

I hope this shows up in some decks but I also hope people look up how this works with Ilharg. It’s a big mana red deck and you can usually cast this from your hand and when you nuke all lands, you’re getting a free creature every combat and they can’t play spells. You wrap the game up quickly. I don’t know if this will catch on and it’s in like a quarter of those 11 decks but it’s a thing, at least.

See the blue line going above the pink one? That’s arbitrage, baby! That’s an arbitrage opportunity buying the card on Card Kingdom, one of the most expensive sites. This card will go up steadily until it’s reprinted, which may take a minute since it was only like $3 a year ago. This is free money but how much I don’t know. Specs that go from a quarter to $6 are sexier.

Finally a card that not only interacts with Ilharg in a pretty disgusting manner, it also shrugged off a commander deck reprinting (albeit very long ago) and is an artifact so it can go in a lot more decks than a red card giving you a lot of non-Ilharg chances to recoup. If this gets reprinted in a commander deck, it will likely be so good in that commander deck that loose copies are less likely to hit the market and you should be insulated a bit. Look at that growth since 2015 – a reprint is nothing but an opportunity to buy in at the bottom of a U-shaped graph, you know, my favorite thing.

That’s all for me, readers. Thanks for tuning in and remember, ignore FOMO and focus on the technique we developed here these last 5 years. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Deeper Analysis Needed

Readers!

We used to talk a lot about how things tended to meander a bit in EDH land. Prices were going to move based on authentic buying patterns and not on speculation. Things are moving a little more swiftly these days with more people having at least one EDH deck and a little bit of knowledge about the format, decks being more exciting to build (and sometimes more obvious like in the cases of Xndrsplt and Okaun, for example, who were exciting AND obvious and whose cards all spiked immediately) and because of, well, me. Me and people like me, writing about how the speculation community was ignoring EDH because they didn’t play it and how foolish that was. Some decks and their cards are going to take a lot longer to move – we saw this with Vannifar cards moving immediately and Teysa cards taking a week or so and Nikya cards taking several weeks and then some Vannifar stuff like Craterhoof going up much later. 

What we’re seeing now is Feather cards bounding upward within 24 hours of Feather being previewed, which is kind of alarming because not only is the deck a little less obvious if you don’t think about how you’d actually build it, some of the cards I expected to take longer have popped in the last day, also. Let’s look at Feather, first up.

This card is obviously ridiculous with good stats, high recastability given its low CMC, relevant creature type and most importantly, actual card advantage in a Boros deck which, what? I don’t even know how to respond to that.

I expected people to scoop some low-hanging fruit here early. Sure, the cantrips themselves are pretty much immaterial since I think it’s real low reward to speculate on something like foil Temur Battle Rage, but the mechanism for finding the right cantrips is material, I think, and it’s a card I’ve made money on twice already. We thought a reprint nerfed it, but it’s BACK, BABY!

What a precipitous climb from $0.50 to $10. It’s likely to settle lower and if you didn’t snag these or already have them, you likely aren’t benefitting much from a 96 hour hype price. It was basically too late to warn you as soon as I noticed, which happens. What I did NOT expect was for cards that people really would have needed to think a little harder about to go up. Maybe it was people posting every rules interaction I could think of and the high volume of cards that form soft locks with cards in War of the Spark (Mycosynth Lattice popped within minutes when people thought about using it as a lock with New Karn, which is, whatever. You don’t see the Lavinia decks people theorycrafted on Twitter and Knowledge Pool was about to tank until it was rediscovered as part of a new combo with WAR card. This is a long-ass paranthetical, sorry.) because people see “lock” and it makes cards pop.

It takes a lot of mana to do it, x(x-1) mana where x is the number of people in the pod, but you can keep everyone from being able to play non-creatures on their turns indefinitely. x(x-1) mana is usually either 12 or 20, so it’s a real investment. However, even if you only do it on your own turn for x mana, it’s going to Xantid Swarm everyone so you can do your shenanigans, and you can keep getting fury back as long as you target one of your own creatures with it while Feather is in play. And hey, if you want to do it on your turn and theirs, we’re now talking x squared mana which is almost always at least 16.

People latched onto Fury as quickly as they did Sunforger – so quickly in fact that people who whine about this sort of thing are whining about Sunforger and don’t seem to have noticed Fury selling out. This means the speculators are a day or two ahead of the theoretical theorycrafters who typically are the ones who build the decks weeks later and buy the cards from me. We need to dig a little deeper if we want any hope of finding some cards that are likely to go up. Luckily for us, I know that this exact deck already exists, basically 90% in the form it’s going to end up when people build it around Feather. I know this because you pay me to know about EDH. Behold, Feather from 5 years ago.

In what way is this Feather? Well, in every way that counts. It has this weird, team Prowess that people have been pairing with cheap cantrips for years and this is already a Sunforger / Zada Hedron Grinder / Monastery Mentor / whatever else deck. We can go deep on Anax’s EDHREC page and find the stuff Feather players have no idea they need yet. They are going to buy $12 sunforgers from some guy who doesn’t even know anything about EDH, why not buy some expensive cards from us because we leveraged our knowledge or paid some dude named Jason for his? Either way, let’s look at what I see as potential overlap between the decks.

I think the best builds are going to go wide because you get the most out of Anax and Cymede and Zada being in the deck. True, you can make Feather a kind of Voltron deck and just Temur Battle Rage her and win via commander damage, but if you’re casting Temur Battle Rage at Feather, why not cast it at Zada and swing with an army of 1/1 soldiers from Assemble the Legion? Going wide makes the most sense and has the most synergy with the cards already in the deck. Of the Voltron stuff in Boros, most of it is Enchantments and Equipment and you’re not even playing to Feather’s strengths. I truly think the deck will be a go-wide build most of the time. That said, here’s the Anax and Cymede stuff I like. I linked their page, so take a look yourself.

I have believed in this card a lot longer than a lot of people so I bought in dirt cheap. It has decent reprint risk but it’s also gone from 25 pennies to 25 dimes so what do you expect from it on top of the 1,000% gain I’ve already realized with a lot of my copies? (I bought in at $0.50 and when it went lower, I bought even more. It was reckless and dumb and I should have eaten a reprint by now). I expect this to hit $5 fairly easily if it’s not reprinted in Commander 2019. The card is too good and with Boros being less boring, it’s a card you just jam in there.

Foils are growing at the same rate if you like that kind of thing. I think if it goes from “fringe EDH playable” to “multideck staple” or “Card in deck of the year” then it could go beyond a 2x multiplier and your gains go up exponentially. $6 is a high buy-in but it’s also a solid card.

Mentor is actually trending down and Feather decks could just be the shot in the ass this card needs. With Sai, Master Thopterist and the new Saheeli, not to mention Genesis Chamber, my personal favorite, Mentor decks in Vintage need Mentor itself less and less. It’s not stellar in Modern where Young Pyromancer is the reigning champ, either. The time to buy Mentor has never been better if you think it has upside and anything under $10 seems fine to me.

A flying Zada with pseudo-protection against removal spells if they have creatures they care about? This has bumped a bit but it’s not done, and it’s a mythic from a few years back. Yank these out of bulk binders.

The foil has basically doubled overnight but if you find these mispriced, go to town.

This is steadily shrugging off a reprinting in a commander deck that was the least popular initially and the most valuable later. No one wanted to jam Iroas, but Douglas Johnson from Brainstorm Brewery made a mint buying the decks for half their singles cost and shipping Iroas, Urza’s Incubator, Blade of Selves, Magus of the Wheel and Fiery Confluence. The Kalemne deck was a treasure trove of goodies and Iroas tanked hard because there was literally 0 pressure on the card to be worth anything. Now it’s worth something – it’s worth playing, so expect it to also be worth more money presently. Look at that growth for Heliod’s sake.

Don’t play a Sunforger deck that doesn’t have this in it. This was printed a lot and it’s having a hard time recovering, but this impetus may be the impetus that does it.

Or buy the one foil printing out of 5 total printings. It’s on an up-shot already.

Finally, here are a few cards you won’t find on Anax’s page that I know about because that’s my job.

Ship has sailed on the foils, imo. $0.50 would have been where you buy these.

This price is actually on a bit of a downswing, having peaked at about $4.50 earlier. I don’t hate this buy-in price at all given its two printings, one of which is shook off. This goes in Feather decks for sure, especially if you’re going wide, which you should.

So the obvious stuff like Sunforger and Aurelia’s Fury got snatched up. Don’t complain, dig deeper. Intruder Alarm spiked early and was practically in price freefall by the time anyone remembered the deck would play Craterhoof. I made a lot of money ignoring what they focused on and focusing on what they ignored. Thinking differently usually means thinking ahead, so let’s stay positive. There’s a lot of treasure left when the first wave of strip miners goes through. Until next time!

Oh, one last thing – I was looking for HD pics from the set and I found one of Dovin Baan that they had to release because so many nerds tweeted “Durr he’s supposed to have 6 fingers, not 5” and they had to show an HD pic so you could clearly see all 6 fingers. Magic players are the worst, that’s all I wanted to say. Good day.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Sparking Creativity

Readers,

I don’t want to do a deep dive on all the implications of a specific commander this early, mostly because we can wait a bit, but there are a few two-card combos emerging and it’s best to be apprised of them so you’re not left in the dust when cards start selling from your TCG Player store or someone else swipes the cheap copies from your LGS. The ship may have sailed on some of these questionable beauties but you can snag some others so let’s get to it.

The New Card


The Old Card(s)

Lashy boy went up before, notably when they printed Laboratory Maniac and also when people thought you could donate it to opponents with Zedruu. I don’t think it’s any better here than it was with Laboratory Maniac, but what do I know? The card’s going up regardless. In fact, “the card’s going up regardless” shall be my catchphrase for the rest of this article.

Speaking of which, I have another spicy pick for you AND as an added bonus, the voice in my head now has a stereotypical Italian accent. Badda BING.

Eyy, why are you out heah buying Leveluh when $0.50 per copy can buy you some nice gabbagool? OK, I’m done with that bit, writing it out phonetically is a pain and I’m not sure which Italian slang is OK to write. Look, this is a pretty dumb spec and this is not a good combo, nor a new combo. But, hey…

And even though I think that may be the end of the Jace shenanigans I have taken note of, there are other cards poised to make things happen.

The New Card

Activated abilities of artifacts your opponents control can’t be activated. 

[+1]: Until your next turn, up to one target noncreature artifact becomes an artifact creature with power and toughness each equal to its converted mana cost. 

[-2]: You may choose an artifact card you own from outside the game or in exile, reveal that card and add it to your hand. 

This is a pretty formidable card. I expect its price to be $1 for every pixel in the picture on Mythic Spoiler.

The New Card

This was going to shake off its Battlebond printing anyway, but the combo with Karn is irresistable. They can’t use activated abilities of… their cards. It’s pretty boss. If you hate your opponents playing Magic, you’ll love this.

The card has mostly popped already but there are still a few reasonable copies out there, especially with the Battlebond printing tanking the price for a bit. Even if you don’t think people want to be about this Chinese Fingertrap life,

New Card

Fblthp is totally lost and while he might appear to be a Blue Norin the Wary, I think he has some utility people latched onto right away that Norin players don’t get to experiment with.

The Old Card

Jeleva players immediately latched onto this combo which is strange because I didn’t think anyone playing Jeleva in 2019 wanted to innovate anymore. However, just in a deck with Flippleblips as your commander, you can order your entire library and draw two cards provided you don’t have any other creatures. Quelle Combo. Staff went up on the basis of Narset hype and it’s still a nutso card with a decent foil multiplier and you should put copies of it into your life. Even if you don’t think there are enough Jeleva players to move the needle or lunatics who will build around fibblips, guess what?

One more, nerds.

The New Card



This is a card, huh? I nicknamed it “Bad Nauseam” but it will probably have an impact on a few formats. People are talking about cards that gain life and draw cards as a way to go infinite off the top without having to play a bunch of bad, 0-mana cards in a 100 card deck. I think there’s another combo worth looking at.

If you weren’t buying $5 Tops when Eternal Masters was at its peak, I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 missed specs but Top ain’t one. Recovering nicely, the only real question was whether it would go up on its own or whether some event would happen to give it a nudge. I guess we have our answer.

That does it for me this week! Next week I hope to have a few commanders in the set to write about because if I have to write about Atraxa, I’ll probably need a beer or three to get through the article. Until then, keep your eye on two-card combos and remember to buy double. Until next time!

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