Category Archives: Jason Alt

Unlocked Pro Trader: New Feature, Who Dis?

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Readers!

EDHREC has a feature that I just noticed and I think it will be useful. Look, it’s either this or we dig into how useful the new Purphoros will be at making cards go up and it’s just not built that much. I like it – having a Sneak Attack on a stick seems good to me. I also think we’re at a weird limbo point where we’re about out of cards to talk about from the most recent set and the next set isn’t out yet. That’s usually where I struggle for article topics and do my best work. Let’s get into it, shall we?

At the top of the Top 100 cards page on EDHREC, I noticed something new. Have you spotted it? Here’s some help.

Since EDHREC has limited the data to the past 2 years, it’s been a little easier to see what is trending. A lot of the “noise” from monolithic, historical decks like Oloro is gone and the signal is clearer. Yes, we’d like a bird’s eye view of EDH as a whole, but since my deal is I want to see trends before they become rules, having less data to parse is better for me. It’s better for us, really, since you’re reading this and I presume wants to use my method to make some money. Since we can see the Top 100 cards of the Week, Month and Past 2 years, let’s do that. Remember that card list comparison tool I used? Well, you’re going to get to see it again.

Click the “layout” button on the right side of the screen to change to text and copy the lists into the list tool. Do this along with me if you want – there will be things you can click on that I won’t click on that might be interesting for you. Here are the results.

There are only 2 cards that have been in the top 100 only the last week, 1 card in the top 100 the last month but not the last 2 years or the last week and 14 cards not in the top 100 since before the last month.

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Seedborn Muse and Idyllic Tutor are in the top 100 the last week.

Muse seems to be recovering from its last printing in C19 and I think it could flirt with $10 again, something Legions copies are doing already. Reprint risk is high, but I like this as a pick-up and it’s trending this week specifically.

The reprint obviously hurt the price of this card but the original art is still worth 4 times as much as the new art, so that’s something. I think at $3 or $4, Idyllic Tutor is a good pickup as well. I’m pretty bullish on both, and I’m glad I could cut through the noise and see that these cards are popular this week.

The card in the Top 100 this month but not this week or the last 2 years is Bedevil. That seems like it points to a decline in the popularity of Kroxa lately, which makes sense. People were building Kroxa more two weeks ago than they are now. I don’t like Bedevil at its current price per se, but it’s worth bringing up anyway.

The list that is in the top 100 the last 2 years but not the last month or week bears a look.

Explosive Vegetation
Return to Dust
Fact or Fiction
Wrath of God
Avenger of Zendikar
Crackling Doom
Preordain
Zendikar Resurgent
Conflux
Harmonize
Blood Artist
Gilded Lotus
Propaganda
Vindicate

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Of those, Blood Artist is pretty surprising given the popularity of Korvold decks. Avenger of Zendikar shows that there hasn’t been a landfall commander in more than a month, which jives. Crackling Doom shows that Ser Gwyn decks are falling off but that Mardu cards are popular when there is an interesting deck to put them in. There was a Mardu commander deck recently but nothing super good in the last month. Some of these cards are kind of interesting. For these to get left out, there have to have been cards that replaced them. Let’s look at the cards that were just in the last month and week.

Arcane Signet
Ashiok
Despark
Dockside Extortionist
Dream Render
Faeburrow Elder
Generous Gift
Growth Spiral
Guardian Project
Narset’s Reversal
Reality Shift
Talisman of Conviction
Talisman of Creativity
Talisman of Hierarchy
Time Wipe

These are cards that are new and have bumped older cards out of the Top 100. These all make sense to an extent. I don’t know that there’s much money to be made here, but one or two of these deserve some coverage.

Every card in War of the Spark is currently worth $3. Uncommon walkers, good removal, mythics – it doesn’t matter. I don’t expect that to hold the farther we get from the box printing, which makes me wonder which cards will pull away from the pack. We have data to look at.

Dovin’s Veto
Despark
Ashiok, Dream Render
Time Wipe
Bolas’s Citadel
Narset, Parter of Veils
Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
Narset’s Reversal
Casualties of War
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
Deathsprout
Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
Finale of Devastation
Cruel Celebrant
Teferi, Time Raveler
Evolution Sage
Spark Double
Ral, Storm Conduit
Domri, Anarch of Bolas
Ajani, the Greathearted
Liliana, Dreadhorde General
Vivien, Champion of the Wilds
Tamiyo, Collector of Tales
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
Nissa, Who Shakes the World

Here is the top 25 cards in War of the Spark, sorted by EDH play. Dovin’s Veto at #1 is kind of surprising, honestly. Despark, Time Wipe, Citadel, Reversal and Casualties are all cards to watch. With 5 cards from War of the Spark in the Top 100 this week, we are liable to see some moves. Foil Dovin’s Veto? Despark? I’m not sure, but barring a reprint, the risk of which I think is pretty low, I like Narset’s Reversal a lot, as well as Despark, Time Wipe and Casualties of War. Cards from War of the Spark are going to climb and with all of the Planeswalkers, sealed boxes of War of the Spark could end up pretty insane since there are a lot of cards that could end up going up.

That does it for me this week. Join me next week where I’ll be looking for a few more data sets to analyze and talking about Throne of Eldraine cards that are already making a big splash. 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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Unlocked Pro Trader: Why DId It Have TO Be Foils?

Readers!

Many of you know I’m not a huge fan of foils when I give spec advice because I think they’re harder to move than people imagine, have a higher buy-in price and there are fewer copies so fewer people can take advantage of my advice. I also consider buying foils as a way to mitigate reprint risk to be kind of intellectually lazy and I tend to avoid calling foils as a rule unless I have a very specific card I really like, such as Arcane Denial or Dramatic Reversal. However, today I’m going to get into some foils and we’re all probably going to make money so it’s probably fine if everyone but me feels good about that. Let’s talk about why I want to talk about foils at all, first. 

A new set came out and when that happens, I look at the new commanders as they start to get popular and try to predict what’s going to go up as a result of those cards getting bought and adopted. The longer after the release weekend we get, the less and less meat there is left on the bone. That’s fine because there is still some time, but I think we’ve had even more time to address something that’s readily becoming very obvious and we still haven’t.

Korvold Isn’t Like Other Decks

When you look at the decks per week snapshot, basically every week the number 1 deck of the week is Korvold, no matter what else happened that week. We got sort of numb to seeing it at that number one spot, and sort of ignored the numbers at the bottom that showed just how much more Korvold was being built. Luckily I take a screenshot most weeks.

December 3rd, 2019. 101 decks
January 28th, 135 decks
February 4th, 142 decks

Watch Kenrith, Golos, Windgrace and Chulane fall way off in real time. As the weeks go on, the number of Korvold decks built every week actually increases. Korvold is unstoppable. Since it wasn’t obvious what a juggernaut Korvold is by looking at him in first place every week, let’s look at some other measures.

Number one this month with 20% more decks built than #2. Want to know where he ranks in the past 2 years?

20th. Korvold is the 20th most-built commander of the last two years and it’s only been out since October of 2019. Korvold is a beast and maybe we take another look at the cards in the deck, specifically some foils. We’ve probably missed a few boats but I’m sure there are plenty more.

SPECS!

Wait, did you just skip to this part because I labeled it “specs!” because that’s not cool.

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I’m just kidding, I don’t care. I’m as excited to tell you about this as you are to hear about it.

My aversion to foils has bitten me a bit here. See that sharp incline? That started back in October, the month they printed the Brawl decks. I’m no astrophysicist but I think it’s possible the two events are related. Players went and did what I’m talking about doing months later. The news isn’t all bad – these are gettable under $10 and you should scoop every sub-$10 copy you can find, so that’s neat. Also, cards with more than one printing won’t be as sensitive to a change in demand but will still have upward velocity. Again, not an astrophysicist, but I think we’ll know upward velocity when we see it.

Victimize foils from Conspiracy flirted with $10 a few times before the rug got yanked out from under it by a reprint nerfed the price back in 2016 and then Korvold seemed to make it hit $8 before it tanked again last year. I think with new decks like Erebos and Kroxa and the continued demand from Korvold, we could see this hit $8 again.

This hit $7 a few times even after it was printed at foil in Masters 25. I think this is an $8 card in the near future given its ubiquity.

There isn’t a ton else, so I want to reserve the rest of this space to talk about why these weren’t discussed months ago.

One reason I tend to avoid foils is that the prices move much faster, both up and down. I know how to do Mtg Finance stuff well enough that I could stay abreast of those changes but given how slowly I list stuff for sale, I don’t like dramatic price swings. I like cards that are cheap and then I buy them and then they go up, and then I don’t list them and then they go down a little and I go “man, should have sold those” and then they go back up and I still don’t sell them and I don’t ever sell them and would you like to buy some copies of Curse of Opulence because I feel silly trying to sell them on Twitter.

In order to know which foils to buy from the Korvold deck, we would have had to have known back in October that Korvold would crack the Top 20 of all time on EDHREC (we don’t display data older than 2 years by default to keep things fresh so a bunch of Oloro decks don’t block out all of the signal from new cards). Anyone who says “You claim to be good at EDH but didn’t see Korvold would be that popular?” also said the same thing about Vannifar, so let’s maintain perspective here. If you had that feeling about Korvold and you recognize that feeling next time it comes around and want to try and capitalize, here’s what to look for.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting (A Deck To Be The Next Korvold)

Recent foils are just as capable of jumping dramatically as older foils. Take a look at Mayhem Devil, a cards that’s basically only in Korvold decks.

Mayhem Devil came out in War of the Spark, 5 months before the Brawl decks. Here’s the trajectory of the foil.

Smooth, steady, organic. I’m sure people notice this but it didn’t trip any “email me when a card dectuples in a day” google alerts or anything so for the most part, this was just a thing that happened because all of us can’t watch all cards all the time.

We would have had to have correctly predicted Korvold could sustain this level of play to justify buying a foil that’s only in one EDH deck, and I didn’t have that kind of trust. I will admit situations like this are a big weakness in the method I use which requires a lot of patience and data, but I was patient and didn’t buy a ton of foil Bounding Krasis, another card that seemed as sure to hit at the time as foil Mayhem Devil.

I don’t mind ignoring really volatile cards that are difficult to predict before we know which decks are really dominant. No one predicted Vannifar would be built less than Lavinia and Nikya, not even me, so if we can take guessing and bias out of the equation, our hit rate really improves. We miss a few Mayhem Devils but we miss a lot more Bounding Krasis and that itself is a win.

That does it for me this week. I’ll be back next week to talk about cards that haven’t already gone up, which has sort of been my niche for a long time. I hope you’ll join me and I hope you didn’t bulk out any foils Deathreap Rituals or Pawn of Ulamogs. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Boring Isn’t Bad

Not all of mtg finance is sexy. When people message me asking what to spec on to double their investment and I tell them to buy collections near buylist prices and sell them for retail on TCG Player or eBay to clear a profit, minus fees, materials and labor, they’re disappointed. I make the majority of my money doing the kind of boring mtg finance stuff that only needs one article ever – “buy collections and sell them for more than you paid for them.” “How to replicate having a job that doesn’t pay you health insurance by being your own boss and doing repetitive labor.” It’s not sexy how I make money, but it is steady. However, speccing IS very sexy and that’s why we write lots of articles about it. It’s a fun way to supplement to monotonous grind of processing cards by the tens or hundreds of thousands every week.

There’s a problem – if we concede that speccing is meant to be sexy, unsexy specs aren’t worth our time, right? Au contraire! Unsexy specs are the perfect hybrid of our boring, meat-and-potatoes type of finance and our Jordan Belfort wannabe spec behavior. You should have a sales route in place, like TCG Player, eBay or Twitter if you’re going to out specs, anyway, so why not use it for both? With that in mind, we’re about to look at some unsexy specs that overlap with 60 card casual, something we have no non-anecdotal data about, and try to make pronouncements about the financial future of safe and profoundly reprintable cards. Sound good? Too bad, this is my column and I’m not going to change gears two paragraphs in.

The Impetus

Heliod, Sun-Crowned

This week we’re looking at a deck that is built the 4th most on EDHREC, ahead of Klothys, the commander I covered last week because Heliod is boring and I keep waiting for him to drop. However, as boring as Heliod is as a commander, there is another dimension he’s worth discussing – his work as an inclusion. We’ll get to that later. Let’s look at Heliod as a Commander first.

If I should have seen something coming, I like to discuss it. I should have seen this coming. Years and years of waiting for something to make this pop, I eventually lost faith. This was a $0.40 card while Soul’s Attendant was $2. This is obviously more than twice as good in Commander, so why the lag? For whatever reason, this popped, finally. It’s not done going up, either. I’m not in for cash since we missed the bulk boat, but if you have these in your bulk, yank them. This will buylist for $0.50 to $1 in a year. This is a moderate-to-low reprint risk with a high upside. Wish I could have called this at bulk but I’m telling you now.

There was never a great time to buy Sunmare – if you’d asked me how I liked buying in at $4, I would have probably balked. We missed a double-up. I’m not lamenting having missed this stuff – I don’t understand what makes some casual tribal stuff go up and others not is harder to understand than people just looking at the hits and ignoring the misses would like you to believe. This is an $8 card on Card Kingdom, though, and considering it’s gettable for half that elsewhere and the price trend is quite strong, I’d say you are OK at $5 on these considering CK’s buylist is nearly $4 right now. Buying at $5 cash to flip these to CK in 6 months or a year for $7 store credit doesn’t suck.

This really shrugged off that reprint. The Dragon deck retailing for like $200 probably has something to do with that. This card is absurd in Heliod decks – by “fair card” standards anyway. You still have to attack with a creature, albeit a flying one that has counters for days.

Note to self – it takes a minute, but lifegain stuff recovers from a reprinting better than almost any kind of card.

I didn’t buy any when I called this at $5, so I guess bringing that up doesn’t do much good. This was creeping slowly but it’s accelerating and this isn’t going to get reprinted. This is a card that goes $4, $5, $6, $8, $15 if it goes because of the low supply. I wouldn’t hate getting in at $8 if that’s the case.

The Second Part

Heliod as an inclusion in decks that aren’t necessarily mono-White give us access to other colors, and other combos.

It’s harder to pull off without Heliod in the commande zone, but if you can get them both out on your side of the board, you just gain infinite life. Speaking of infinite, there are infinity printings of Spike Feeder (Stronghold, Battle Royale, Commander 1, FNM, Time Spiral) and two foil printings but I bet they all pop. The FNM foil looks especially good, but I hate buying EDH foils to spec on, so bear that in mind. I mean, that and they’re sold out most places. Be quick or be dead.

There’s a lesson here – not all reprints are created equal. Printing this in a Masters set AND a commander deck sealed Divinity’s fate despite it being a casual beast of a card that used to flirt with $10. This got up to $6 after the Commander 2013 printing but the Modern Masters printing the same year nerfed the price and it hasn’t been able to rise more than a buck or two. Here’s hoping Heliod can get EDH players interested again – they mostly haven’t been. This is an excellent case study in reprints.

I know this is already money, but it’s worth mentioning that it finds Heliod.

Whatever happens with lifegain stuff in the wake of another lifegain commander, what we’re seeing is that every time there is a new one, renewed interest causes a spike, which falls off, but makes the overall trend of the card’s price an upward one. If you don’t sell off in time, you can either hold on until the next spike or just watch the price slowly climb because life gain is always a good investment.

That does it for me this week. Join us next week where I re-examine more things I’m bad at predicting. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro TRader: Old Is New Again

Readers!

New stuff moves prices, sometimes. Something new comes along and makes something that was worthless suddenly worthwhile and everyone scrambles to find copies. The thing is, as quickly as people are raising their sell prices, they’re also raising their buy prices. People like me scour the LGS for copies at the old price to quickly arbitrage for free money and the supply catches up to the demand. That’s obvious. What’s also obvious if you read this column because I say it all the time is that sometimes a second spike can be more profound because the copies are all concentrated in the hands of dealers and without dollar bin copies at the LGS, Today, rather than the first kind of spikes (the Teysa tier) I want to talk about some second spike cards that have overlap with 60 card casual formats and could have some high exits despite semi-high buy-ins. These cards aren’t new but the decks that want them are and something tells me casual cards appealing to semi-casual players means the price goes up. First, though, let’s look at the impetus.

The Commander

Klothys, God of Destiny

Klothys seems like a bit of a dorky card at first but a 3 mana enchantment that either gives you mana on your precombat main or shocks the table is worth a look. You can stymy your reanimator opponent, turn your fetchlands into mana or gain a little life to make it harder to kill you. You can also make Klothys deal a lot more than 2 damage. The secret? Klothys is read.

The Stats

Klothys is climbing the rankings quickly.


Week One rankings

As you can see, Kloxa moved up 2 spots from week 1, which isn’t nothing. A lot of the growth was recent.

Weekly rankings as of 2-4-2020

Only 3 made the cut this week, managing to displace older and more popular commanders. The new hotness may be the new hotness, but people are still looking to update their decks with new cards. You also see Marrow-Gnawer there, buoyed by people updating rats decks with the singles that WotC is selling directly to players, because I guess they think Amazon warehouses will start running FNM.

61 Klothys decks this week, 130 total. Half of the growth in a third of the time tells me Klothys is heating up. Heat is good – remember how I mentioned Klothys is Red? It’s going to matter.

The Specs

This isn’t a spec, but it’s the first card you see under the “high synergy cards” section on EDHREC and it should be an immediate clue that people want to dome people for a lot with Klothys. With Just Klothys and Torbran out, that upkeep trigger gains you 2 life and deals 4 damage to all players. If you add more to the mix, it gets even more dirty.

This was a bulk rare a few weeks ago but Torbran decks pulled it out of the gutter and Klothys decks will only increase the shenanigans. The thing about Torbran decks is that your commander can’t provide any damage of his own meaning he’s probably better in the 99 than the command zone. Dictate has a lot of supply but considering it’s in a cycle with a $10 card and 3 other $1 cards, it’s safe to say the ceiling is $10 rather than its current price of “not bulk.” This won’t hit $10 but it won’t be bulk again barring a reprint, which seems unlikely given Furnace of Rath or a creature-based damage doubler seeming more appropriate for that slot given the Flash ability. Pull these out of bulk if you’ve got them. I’m not in for cash here but I like these long-term. That said, it’s been a long term already. Are there juicier specs in this same vein?

These are basically arbitrageable at this point. Troll and Toad has these for under $3 which is basically Card Kingdom buylist. You may or may not know you can do this on our site – check this out.

Here’s our graph
Never noticed that before. What’s it do?
Awww SNAP

You can see which vendors are paying what on these cards. Card Kingdom is a good place to buylist cards so if you were looking to get basically retail on these, CK has you and they have a trade-in bonus to boot. If you’d rather hold them because a 0% spread is suspicious, then do that.

All of the other damage doublers basically suck as specs, and that’s too bad. They’re either very recent non-mythics

Angrath's Marauders

or they have been printed into dust.

Image result for deal double that amount of damage"

I’m pretty sure this isn’t showing up on the page for “high synergy cards” because it only works if your devotion to Gruul is 7. That said, this gives you 3 pips, Klothys is 2 and you should have SOMETHING else on the board, so this basically always works, so it should see more play. Am I going to have to write an article about this card on Coolstuff? I might – if I built the deck, I’d go creatureless so I could fit all of the enchantments I want to run and have this be my only creature besides Torbran.

Rampaging Ferocidon
Daddy missed you while you were banned

I don’t think there is money to be made here, but this is a sick card. Too bad it nerfs your lifegain.

Neheb might be the best spec of the deck. It was high before, but it’s higher now on CK and still growing as it has for the past year. I hope you snagged these around rotation because this is a casual favorite, an EDH powerhouse and in this deck, you’re getting 2 mana for each opponent for doing nothing more than having 2 permanents in play and 1 in someone’s yard. That seems doable. Neheb can easily hit $15 or $20 and everyone will act surprised just like they are surprised now because this used to be $5. Hell, it used to be $2. This is my favorite spec of the deck.

If you couldn’t tell by the shape of the graph, Mana Web is on the Reserved List. This was climbing steadily but that all got nerfed by the “OMG RESERVE [sic] LIST” frenzy of a few summers ago. Prices are returning to reality but I don’t know if this can’t get back up where it was on the basis of being an unfair magic card. This could be the deck to do it since a lot of people say they’re running this and they seem to have come to that conclusion independently of each other. Klothys is a weird Stax deck and I don’t like Stax but you’re also doing a ton of chip damage, which I love. Chip damage like…

Might want to check your bulk. Thanks, Torbran.

Thanks, Torbran? I’m not sure what the deal with this card is because you double their mana, but they also take more damage than you will so maybe it’s part Manabarbs, part Mana Flare, all Mana Catch 22 for them. Anyway, this could get above bulk, I hope. I like this less than I do other cards, like…

This doesn’t do damabe but it hurts.

A lot of ships have sailed, but if you’re willing to pay a bit, someone with a… dinghy could… row you out to the ship so you can still sail the rest of the way on it? But you have to pay the guy with the dinghy money? Does that work as a metaphor for a high buy-in because we didn’t notice all of this stuff growing by 70% in the last year?

Some of the cards have higher buy-ins than others but ultimately, there is still money to be made. Klothys is getting more popular and people likely won’t have some of these old cards, or some of the new ones. Make sure you’re holding when a second spike happens so they have to buy the card from you. It pays to be prepared.

That’s all for me. Thanks for reading, and check out Klothys’ page for the full list of cards to see if anything sticks out to you. Until next time!

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