Category Archives: Jason Alt

Unlocked Pro Trader: Getting A Jump On The Competition

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That title isn’t a pun, I literally just couldn’t think of a pun with the name of the card and you don’t care about the pun titles. No one has ever sent me a message telling me I made a sweet pun in the title. Well, on this site, anyway. My puns are lauded on Coolstuff. LAUDED. I give you people metaphorical GOLD and all you want is literal gold in the form of money-making specs. Fine. You’ll have your specs. I’m writing this super early for Pro Traders because this card got spoiled today and I think it matters. Let’s take a look at the card I mean, first off.

Look at this flappy boi. It’s like Young Pyromancer turned into a goose thing. This puts you in Monastery Mentor colors in EDH and gives you access to Cathars’ Crusade if you want to beat them down, ways to tutor for an Isochron Scepter and a Dramatic Reversal to throw on it and plenty of other madness. Here’s what I think has a chance of going up, probably in the next 48 hours, if people think this deck matters.

For the record, Competitive EDH people seem convinced that this is a really viable engine so on top of this likely to be appealing in the kind of EDH played by 90% of the community, the deck could potentially have legs in cEDH as well. Does that do anything for prices? Eh, yes and no. cEDH decks are super homoegenous so the staples are going to get played in most builds in that format, but they’re cards that were already expensive because they’re good in everything. Take a look at a build for Kykar someone on the cEDH sub came up with. Granted he shot from the hip, but all of their decks are built this way.

WHAT IS THIS, A DECKLIST FOR ANTS?

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This deck is jammed with tutors, countermagic, card draw and like, 10 Kykar-specific cards. It has a way to get both of its creatures into play and that sets up the Sensei’s Top/ Future Sight combo which makes 80 birds and draws the deck. It’s very consistent and that’s what cEDH is about, but Kykar won’t move the needle on Merchant Scroll or Wheel of Fortune or Rhystic Study. I think people building casually will move the needle on cards not played before and that’s why I acknowledge what cEDH is doing but don’t see much opportunity to make money in it, and I’ve talked about that a lot recently. Go back to my articles about Vannifar for a more in-depth discussion about it.

I don’t have EDHREC data yet so I’m going to talk about cards I think are in immediate danger of repricing themselves in the next few days. This is where Pro Trader really pays off.

Down quite a bit from its all-time high, Echoes is poised to go right back up, especially in the near term. It’s already rebounding a bit, and between Slivers being reintroduced and Kykar doing crazy shenanigans, I think Mana Echoes pops this week. It’s tough to reprint and it was $35 when they decided what was going in Commander 2019 so I think it’s safe for now. If you want these, I wouldn’t wait for it to get cheaper, especially since it’s recovering quite a bit.

This seems to rise from the ashes stronger each time it’s reprinted. Skullclamp is already a real workhorse in Teysa, a deck people are still playing, and it’s going to do even more work in this deck. It’s even easier to keep the party going because you can sac one spirit to pay the equip cost on another and keep the old grip full. If you have Saheeli, or Sai, or Monastery Mentor or Young Pyromancer or any of the myriad ways to make 2 tokens per spell, you’re going to draw your deck. Seems good. This has a lot of printings but also a lot of upside in the near term.

Pepperidge Farm remembers when this was a $10 foil. It’s not quite the insane, take-Modern-by-storm deck it once was and people are off it, mostly, but the foils ended up in the hands of dealers who are ratcheting their buy price (the blue line on the graph) and this card is going up regardless. I think it’s actually just insane in a Kykar deck and maybe the non-foils pop as well, but the foils are for sure in play, especially since this is one of the few cards cEDH decks aren’t already playing that they will play in this.

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I don’t know how much Kykar can push this, but it’s in a deck that no one bought much at the time but which is super worth popping now given the $150 worth of cards in it. It’s not an easy card to get and Kykar is the perfect deck because you can get away with only running 2 creatures. You have plenty of tokens to sac and then you just hit Kiki combo or Ilharg and Medomai or something brutal and just win. This is the best Polymorph variant, and between the mana rocks you should run in the deck and the fact that this is more like a 4 mana spell than a 7 mana spell, it should be pretty easy to get this to go off. I think the deck is worthwhile if you can get it cheap since it has 3 $20 cards in it, and I think this card is good in Kykar. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

The internet is getting cleaned out of these so find them while you can. The Izzet Vs. Golgari deck is a good source of them – I bought a ton at Target when it was new and I am still sitting on them sealed despite watching Grave Troll rise and fall and Life From The Loam spike and get reprinted. It may be time to dig them out. There are Japanese versions of that deck floating around and it’s tough for dealers to move those copies, so take a risk on that and hope people are interested in those, or scour obscure sites for a few loose copies. The price basically double today so even if you have to pay like $4 shipping per copy at the old price, you’re still up.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print. I don’t usually write my article a day early but you deserve it. Thanks for reading. Until next time!

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Pro Trader: New Format, New Resources

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I’m not here to tell you how to feel about Oathbreaker. Is it a silly thing or is it a real thing? I don’t know. Is it Brawl which failed despite support from WotC or is it Tiny Leaders which failed all on its own? Oathbreaker proponents swear it’s the future, but they said that about formats in the past.

Either Oathbreaker is the new frontier or it’s the new Frontier. It’s actually not up to me to decide. I deride Tiny Leaders for being a wacky thing no one cared about long enough for it to sustain itself but the thing is, I recgonized there was short-term money to be made in that format and I loaded up on Sunforger and made that money. I regret nothing. Whether or not we ever build a Oathbreaker deck of our own or the format takes off long-term, there is short-term money to be made.

Don’t understand the format? Don’t worry!

WE BUILT A SCRAPER!

EDHREC is now in the beta of OathbreakerREC which will possibly outlive the format, we’ll see. It’s a trove of information already and to the extent that things here are actionable, they’re worth looking into for sure. Let’s look at the front page, shall we?

We include both the Oathbreaker and the signature spell together, making it easy to browse visually. You can click in the upper right hand corner to browse by name if you want, but I like the pictures because seeing the images and names together helps me remember. Clicking on any given one takes you to the deck just like with an EDH deck on EDHREC. It’s the same thing but with 60 cards and Sol Ring is banned.

A few things popped out at me just doing a cursory glance at this page and I am happy to share them.

Of the 18 top decks, only one signature spell is repeated.

Triumph sees fringe EDH play but is pretty pushed in this format where it’s quite easy to make sure you have a Nissa planeswalker in play because you always have access to one.

Here are the EDHREC stats.

And here are the stats from the burgeoning Oathbreaker section. 1.3% of the decks isn’t exactly melting faces, but I don’t know what an impressive percentage would be. I DO know that this is in multiple decks and that means if either one takes off (I assume this is a solveable format like Tiny Leaders was) then there is real upside.

Could the price on the foil copy climbing even as more packs get opened (I mean, War of the Spark was 5 expansion sets ago, we’re already on to Core 2020) be due in part to Oathbreaker? I don’t know how high this gets on the basis of that set and I don’t think you buy in at $2.50 under any circumstances, but we’re working a process here, letting the data talk to us. The data said “Here’s a thing!’ but it seems like we’re late to the party. We won’t always be!

Let’s look at a card that has crossover appeal with EDH.

Windfall has much stronger EDH adoption due to decks like Nekusar and The Locust God.

It’s $7 too high a buy-in? What is the ceiling on a card like this? Will they continue to do sets like Modern Horizons and avoid printing cards that would be too good in Modern? If so, Windfall likely doesn’t get reprinted again anytime soon. But for a $7 buy-in, you’re looking for it to hit like $15 before you’re happy. $15 for an uncommon? It’s possible and it’s already doubled from around $4 to around high $7.

Compared to something like Nissa’s Triumph, this seems a lot more like the power level we expect to see in the format. Once you stick Wrenn and Six, say on turn 2, you can cast Crop Rotation for G and then again for 2G to get Dark Depths and Thespians’ Stage. I think that’s how this works. In any case, Crop Rotation is busted.

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A $200 buy-in seems pretty reasonable to me given the fact that Crop Rotation could be reprinted in a Masters-esque set any minute. Yikes.

The $6 Crop Rotation from the Nissa vs. Ob Nixilis deck makes me want to look at the value of the rest of it. Looks like this, $4 Nissa, $3 Ob Nixilis and the fourth most expensive card is… Wood Elves. That’s not great, but there are 2 decks and if you add up all the nickels and dimes, you get about $28 in value. I think some of the cards in that deck can rebound given cards like Leechridden Swamp, Smallpox, Cloudthresher and Abudance being basically free right now. eBay doesn’t have the decks under $25, but it’s always worth looking when one card in a Duel deck spikes. If you can still find Izzet vs. Golgari for sticker price, you double up, for example.

I think all of us predicted what the number one deck would be.

Moonmist bumped when they printed a (terrible) Werewolf Commander, could it be due for another bump?

Probably some money to be made here, second spikes and all that. The foil plummeted from $6 to $2 but is hanging around $4 now. I think if this does catch on, it goes to $8 or $10 fairly easily. Let’s look at the rest of the deck.

There’s no money to be made, here. It’s all dumb tribal wolf stuff with rares and uncommon from the post-mythic era that 60 card casual, EDH and Oathbreaker combined will labor to move up.

So far our foray into Oathbreaker is looking pretty fruitless.

The one deck I do think benefits from the format the most is a degenerate Saheeli deck.

Thoughtcast makes the deck very consistent, playing a mana rock makes a 1/1 creature and enough of those creatures allows you to reduce the commander tax on Thoughtcast because it has Affinity. If I were to build an Oathbreaker deck, this is the one I’d build. These 5 cards speak for themselves so they won’t get a paragraph. Here’s 5,000 words to end the article.

Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Urza Who?

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It’s clear that Urza is the favorite deck to emerge from the new EDH Masters set called “Modern Horizons” and it’s not hard to see why. Him plus Paradox Engine plus a few other artifacts means you cast your whole deck pretty reliably and that’s pretty good. Artifacts are good, blue is good, both together is good. Urza is the Vannifar of the set but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a Teysa of the set, and I think I’ve found it.

EDHREC is on top of their game this go-around and since all of the cards are in Scryfall and people are building decks already, EDHREC is scraping data already. The integration with sites like Archidekt which let people make decks almost as soon as card are spoiled means we have data earlier, which is apparently something we need because people are jumping on EDH stuff way earlier than they used to. That’s fine, once we get over the feeling of missing out, it turns out those people miss a lot of stuff because they don’t know what they’re doing. Still plenty of money to be made by listening to people telling us what they’re actually doing. Let’s listen.

Behold! 26 decks – hardly a huge sample size but since we’re getting ideas and nothing else, it’s enough. We want to see if any tech is emerging and these early decks also have the benefit of informing later deckbuilders so actually these cards that may be erroneously over-represented now may actually make people more likely to play them and therefore fulfill their own prophecy. Archidekt integration with EDHREC means people can now build their deck with the suggestions from other decks right in front of them more easily than ever. It’s not that these suggestions are bad, but it does have a snowball effect as the first to get their ideas down on paper have an influence over every subsequent builder.

That said, enough editorializing about problems I personally helped create. Let’s make some money.

Not on the Reserved List but not exactly easy to reprint, either, this card is one the move and $3 is not where it’s going to stop, either. If you can still get these around the $1 they were for basically ever, you should be able to get out above $4 soon. The tipping point on these are coming and being an uncommon from Saga means there are fewer copies than there are copies of uncommons from recent sets with similar trajectories.

Ogre is more explosive, true, but Skirge Familiar is the only card like this in Black and with Yawgmoth’s ability to keep your hand full, you should have no shortage of garbage to pitch to turn into a spell, perhaps a big Exsanguinate. I think if a small number of people discovered Skirge Familiar, it’s going to go. In at $2, out at $5 seems reasonable to me.

Foils of this are falling but considering a foil is currently cheaper than a non-foil Masques copy, we could see some movement back up. This can go off constantly given your ability to proliferate a ton, and unlike a lot of Time Walk artifacts, you don’t have to “bank” a turn to make it work, so if there are 9 counters on it, just take 4 turns in a row and laugh. If you can’t manage to put 3 counters on it during those extra turns with Yawgmoth as your commander, you don’t deserve to win, anyway. I think Masques copies and m19 foils are both pretty good bets, especially since it spiked already on the basis of different cards and copies are more scarce in the wild.

You like this graph shape? I know that you do. I like it, also. This is the “reverse-J” shape that precedes the “U-shaped” graph that is a card recovering from a reprinting. This is obviously a battlebond reprinting based on the time the card’s price plummeted. Why no recovery yet? Was it rarity-shifted? Does it see less play? Was the set overprinted? No, no and no. This seems like an opportunity to me!

Here’s the culprit. I think Revenant is due for a slow climb back to maybe 2/3 of its pre-reprinting price if it’s not reprinted again given how powerful it is. Although people are latching on to the budget version, Crypt Ghast, Ghast is making a case for a higher price tag itself and anyone who is serious about building like redundancy more than they like budget alternatives to non-RL cards. They will buy both and so should you.

Ready for another guess?

Here is a card I have raised the alarum about on several occasions but never really bought into myself, which was foolish because I was right, this card is the truth and it’s only going to get better now that Yawgmoth is a sac outlet for the ages. You’ll like this reveal a lot.

This card is honestly probably not done growing despite having grown quite a bit. I feel like it should have gotten a commander deck reprint by now and it’s strange that it hasn’t, but when they finalized last year’s decks, like 18-24 months ago, this card was steady at $8 for a while. Can it grow more? Is it getting reprinted this year (I doubt it)? Time will tell. I like this card, though.

One last thing – Ultimate Masters didn’t really inject as many copies into the market as anyone expected and prices are really holding up. I wouldn’t wait to buy anything that got reprinted in that set, and this deck has quite a few.

Tower and Urborg are staples in any deck like this so grab them now. They’ll shrug off another reprint and they’re not going to get cheaper so it’s a real low risk buy.

That does it for me. Next week we will have more data so be sure to tune in. Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: One For One

Readers!

What do we do when there’s no EDHREC data yet? Whatever I want, this is my column. Today I am going to look at a bunch of new cards and try to find a card that could be poised to move on the basis of the new card. Sound good? This will be a fun one.


Second spikes are usually pretty hard and this one is poised. Already on the upswing following a crash when people didn’t quite build as many Hapatra decks as people thought they might, Skitter is a perfect target. I think Yawgmoth is likely to spike 10-20 cards on his own but this is the most obvious so it’s going to go first. We’ll talk about him in depth in his own article when it’s warranted.

You could find 20 targets on just this one commander’s page but I think one I want to highlight today is this one.

If you have Flourishing out, this is Boundless Realms for cards like Gaea’s Cradle and Nykthos. You may not get the exact lands you want and putting 7 mana into it doesn’t guarantee you as many lands and Realms does, but this also puts non-basics into play untapped and I think that makes this a very different card. When X=6 you look at 12 cards and statistically get 4 lands, untapped. That’s a 2-card combo with Flourishing, but so is Realms and Amulet of Vigor. I dunno, this is on an upswing and it’s going in every Flourishing deck if people are smart.

I have seen people talk about cards ranging from Tibalt to Witch Hunt to Leyline of Punishment, but here’s a funny one.

This puts you in black but it’s also pretty hilarious to dome everyone for 10 and then burn them out with spells. This also gives you access to spells like Exsanguinate which get better when you have a ton of verse counters. Of all the cards to pair with Aria, which may or may not be a thing, this is the most hilarious and is already trending up, albeit minimally.

Kidding.

Check out which decks run Stony Silence, I guess. I’m not sure what this does, besides make Lattice more desirable than it already is, which is lots. A Karn, Ouphe, Silence, Null Rod deck could be nasty.

This has already spiked a few cards, including Deranged Hermit, but if people are going deep on Squirrels, there are things they have missed.

People aren’t going super deep on Squirrel stuff, but they should. Pretend they’re nuts and collect them.

A lot of these effects are good paired with Wrenn which isn’t going to be a new EDH deck, but could be in Modern and also could get people to dust off Mina and Denn or Angry Omnath. 2 mana ‘walkers are historically bad but this doesn’t appear to be in that camp. I also like Strip Mine and Wasteland right now.

This peaked hard and high on the basis of the Commander deck and now that all the copies are concentrated in the hands of dealers, this could have some real growth potential. We aren’t done talking about this sicko card, though, it’s going to be great!

Sorry this week felt like a bit of a hodgepodge but I didn’t want to go too deep on anything in particular. Feel free to do that yourself! If there are cards like it that exist, see which decks play them on EDHREC and which cards have high synergy scores from getting played alongside them. I’ll be back next week to go way in depth on a commander and scoop up all the picks people forgot when they bought out all the obvious cards. Until next time!

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