Category Archives: Jason Alt

Unlocked Pro Trader: At Last! An Event!

Readers,

I bring to you glad tidings, for there was an event!

Maybe not what you’re hoping – there wasn’t a Magic Fest or anything, people are playing paper Magic and communicating a virulent pathogen to each other (yet), I mean an event in the sense that a thing happened that triggers another thing. That sounds vague, I agree, that’s why I use the word “event.” Printing new cards and spoiling them is an event. Covid shutting down stores like TCG Player was an event. And, this week, the EDH Rules Committee announcing that since someone on the CAG didn’t understand how Elenda, the Dusk Rose worked (if you believe that story) they changed the rule so that commanders going to the command zone instead of the graveyard when killed will now trigger “when this creature dies” abilities.

Elenda the Dusk Rose, already a decent gainer, shot up. Since people who sell cards have social media, lots of sellers have weighed in on the “INSIDER TRADING! CONFLICT OF INTEREST! OTHER WORDS I KNOW FROM TV!” charges from the community with “nah, I sell a few copies this card a week, always have, and this week they went out one at a time” which did nothing to quiet the mobs but which makes us in the finance community at least remember that we’re unfairly maligned but we’re also making money off of a children’s card game and that’s going to rankle the rabble a bit. I think a degree of the demand for this card is organic and since it was useful in the 99 before, got a non-trivial amount of play as a commander even in the last 2 years and the fact that it just got better, let’s look at what people will need if they’re building the deck.

When I said Elenda was getting a “non-trivial” amount of play as a commander, I was perhaps being charitable. Viewed as an inclusion, the metrics are significantly better.

Elenda is great as an inclusion, and not necessarily in Vampire decks, either, whereas she was weak as a commander given the way the rules worked before. Now that you have access to her and can do her shenanigans early and often, taking a second look at the cards, especially new ones, that are in play is prudent.

There have been 22 new Elenda decks made since Ikoria was spoiled, many in the last 24 hours on EDHREC, and over half of them realize that this card is bonkers. It’s bonkers elswhere, too. The Ozolith happens to be good with another commander who just got a boost from the rules change as well.

I don’t know that you play Roalesk when Pir and Toothy exist, but I have more than one Simic deck and they all play 90% the same cards so who am I to judge? We’re not here to talk about Roalesk, but it is worth noting that The Ozolith matters in 2 decks that just got a boost literally this weekend.

I don’t think we’re going to see The Ozolith approach bulk before rotation like we did in years past, I think EDH cards hit hard, immediately and I think they stay good places to park money forever whereas Standard cards are very volatile. I’d trade out of Standard stuff from Ikoria and into EDH stuff – you can never have too many copies of Luminous Broodmoth.

Siona demand couldn’t quite soak up all of the extra copies from the Gideon box set but maybe with some help we can get there, now. I’m not sure how reprintable this card is (or isn’t) so this is risky but I was all-in on this card earlier this year and I’m not about to back off now that it’s better. Buylist trends looked good until buylists stopped being a thing.

Vona is OK as a commander and OK in the 99 but in the 99 of a lifelinker than makes lifelink tokens, specifically, this card shines. It’s a casual favorite and was going to go up anyway and indeed has on Card Kingdom. I trust Card Kingdom’s instincts on EDH cards more than any other site which is why I use their prices and if other sites are lagging behind, I see that as a buying opportunity rather than an indictment of their algorithms. I’m not advocating buying from them but I am advocating watching their price graphs and you should absolutely be selling to their buylist, that’s not even close to controversial.

This will be a $5 foil very, very soon and you are all going to be very surprised. Card Kingdom’s price looks wonky because they sold out. Let’s look at some other stores. Oh, we can’t? Everyone is sold out and ABU has their NM copies at $2.50 but Mint at closer to $5? So then the only store that has these in stock under $4 is TCG Player where there are a lot of foil copies? Looks like meat is on the menu. Go to town on these, I promise you’ll be glad when you can buylist them for $5.

WHAT AH YER DOON IN MAH SWUMP?!

It’s all ogre for copies of this card under $5. It’s already flirted with $5 on CK and the $3 copies elsewhere are not long for this world. Help Elenda finish what Teysa started.

The rest of the deck is fairly either super cheap or super expensive. I feel OK about the new Erebos and a few other cards, but you really can’t go wrong with these picks, except maybe Gift which may have been a whiff on my part. Those Gideon Spellbook copies threw me for a loop.

That does it for me! Join me next week where we’ll likely have some Core set 2021 shenanigans and henanigans to discuss. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: The Re-Forgotten Set

Readers!

Last week I wrote about something I called a “forgotten set” and I promptly forgot about it because I had to click on the article I wrote last week and re-read it to refresh my memory. I forgot about the forgotten set and I bet you did, too, so check out last week’s article and then immediately click on this one and keep reading as if it was one, long, continuous article so I don’t have to rehash all of the things I said about the set but you probably didn’t need to read this paragraph again why did you read this paragraph again?

One thing I didn’t cover last week was the new foils. When they had Mystery Booster, convention edition, they had those wacky playtest cards in the packs. They were fun, Gavin had a good time designing them, they broke the game in a “who gives a damn, this is a side event at a GP and the point of buying in was to get the boosters and drop so congrats for staying, here’s a busted card for funsies” sort of way. I don’t want to bust that at home, though, so they (correctly) replaced those silly playtest cards with foils to make the Mystery Booster home game even more fun. Those foils are nuts and they’re worth a look.

I’m no foil expert, but even with this being very, very scarce (only printed in a core set no one was excited about) it cutting in half overnight means there is a lot of room to grow considering this is a 1:120 pull in a set no one really bought. Its rarity doesn’t matter, all foils have a 1:120 chance of being pulled. That is a small increase in supply. If people are right about the sudden resurgence in cEDH as a major finance player and aren’t merely justifying their lazy targeting of Reserved List cards, surely a cEDH card like this which is being printed for the second time ever in foil is in play? I think this is a solid pickup and due to the low supply trickling through shuttered Local Game Stores, the price is ticking up already. You won’t get out at $35, but you won’t lose money after fees, either.

This card was EXTREMELY scarce and I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t think the amount of additional supply was small enough to be outstripped and if the price wasn’t already beginning to equilibrate. Don’t catch a falling knife and all that, but I think Jimminy Cricket said to hitch your wagon to a rising star. Or something, I don’t know, I just like this card at its current price.

I realize that New Phyrexia doesn’t grow on trees, but we are talking about a formerly $25 card gettable for $4 on ABU. There is just no literal way you don’t make money here. I don’t like foils and I think EDH foil demand is overstated and I just can’t fathom you not making money on a card that was buylisting for $20 a couple of months ago. I should move this to the end of the article. Actually, forget the rest of the article, this is the end, buy this and just mint money.

This is ONE dollar. It’s a foil of a ridiculous card and I realize no one knows what this is and what it does until I play it and they get mad at me. I realize I don’t make YouTube videos where I’m right 20% of the time and therefore don’t have the power to move a card on my own. I realize all that and yet, I see a card that flirted with $30 available for $1 as a foil and I think “How could I resist?” I wanted a bunch of nonfoils for a deck and they were $7 each so I held off. I’m glad I did because now the foil is cheaper than the non-foil. That happens sometimes. I still want the non-foils to play with and I’ll pay the $2, I guess, but come on. I don’t think you can go wrong buying a former $7 nonfoil card in foil for $1.

This former $13 foil is now gettable for $1. The non-foil is $2. I think you just look at the list of all of the foils in this set and if it costs half as much as the non-foil version and it’s played in EDH, you take a risk. I realize the price was high due to scarcity, but this wasn’t a $1 foil in 2013. This card is absurd and to be able to pay $1 for a playable copy is great, let alone a copy some would value above the non-foils. You’ll see what I mean about EDH demand for foils being overstated if these climb more slowly than the non-foil, which I think will happen, but I also think you literally can’t miss buying this for $1.

I think the foils are a lot more scarce than people might think, stores will have a very hard time restocking with nowhere to buy in person meaning the prices will recover faster than ever before and we have foil versions of EDH staples that are significantly cheaper than the non-foil counterparts. Either the foils stabilize higher or this competition brings down the price of the non-foil, giving you a cheaper buy-in opportunity on those cards. Either way, pay attention to what happens to a lot of these $1 and $2 foils from this set that aren’t dumb cards like Greater Mossdog and Hornet Sting. Real EDH demand will raise one of both prices, both of which are deflated right now.

That does it for me this week. Stay safe out there and think about buying more than normal right now. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: The Forgotten Set

Readers,

Today it’s time to talk about a set that Covid so thoroughly upstaged, you probably forgot it even happened. Mystery Boosters. No, not that one, Mystery Boosters: Retail Edition. Can you name the most expensive card in that set? Demonic Tutor, maybe Bloom Tender, right?

Try Mana Crypt. Mystery Boosters: Retail Edition truly is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. What’s even in the set? More importantly, which cards do I expect to tank as a result of this set everyone forgot to buy, if any, and which ones do I see an opportunity to make money on? I’m so glad I pretended you asked that because that’s the whole premise to this article. I have some opinions, so let’s get into it.

Archive here is gettable around $10 on TCG Player and it may even tank lower if things open back up soon. If it does, I recommend buying even more copies at the new price until the average price you paid is something you can live with. This is a technique I call “steering into the skid” and it very rarely results in you getting blown out by a second reprint 6 months later and then 2 reprints a year forever until you beg it to stop (LOOKING AT YOU, SANGUINE BOND). Archive flirted with $25 at its peak and I think paying $10 on a card that very recently buylisted for $10 even as it tanked is smart. Pay buylist, folks. If this goes to around $5, know you’re getting out at $15-$20 and Wizards will forget to reprint it while it heads there. This seems like a card that will be back at $20 in no time and people will say “When did THAT happen?!” like they always do, me included.

This won’t be $60 again but it also likely won’t be reprinted again. This is a messed up Magic card, it’s pure EDH and it’s tough to reprint because most formats can’t brook a 9 mana spell because it’s a dead card in a pack in Limited and they’re not putting Council’s Judgment in a Constructed set. Where, then do they print this considering it’s too good and expensive money-wise for an EDH precon even at this point and they don’t seem keen on continuing Conspiracy and Battlebond and other good reprint sets, preferring Secret Lair – lower back tat’ you regret but can’t afford to get lasered off and anyway you forget it’s there most of the time edition. This probably keeps going down and when it starts to tick back up, pounce. This won’t be affordable long.

This is like the other gods but its price graph is what it is because of how good it is. This helps Red stop being underpowered in EDH because you can easily dome the whole table quickly with Krenko or Prossh or Tempt with Vengeance. This card does WORK. This flirted with $40 for a reason and with them printing more cards than ever that fart out tokens, not fewer, this will continue to be a Red deck staple and will continue to command a high price tag. When this bottoms out, go all-in.

This isn’t just an Atraxa card but nearly every loose copy ended up in the same Atraxa deck it was bundled with, driving the price way up initially. The reprint in Commander Anthology didn’t do much. This lost 2/3 of its value instantly and after shrugging one reprint off, I expect it to shrug this off, too, considering it’s in a set everyone forgot about.

This is currently cheaper than Cairn Wanderer – don’t expect that to hold. I don’t have a ton to say here. In fact, I may not say much about the next few bonus picks and just let their graph speak for itself rather than write more words. A picture is worth 1,000 and I’m way over my wordcap as it is.

Wave-goodbye-1024x576 - The DI Wire

Unlocked Pro Trader Our Fates Are Sealed 2: Sealed Boogaloo

Readers!

Does the title of this article make 0 sense to you? Either you’re not aware that people have been riffing on the title of the 1984 Dance movie “Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo” since basically 1985 or you’re not aware that I wrote part 1 of the article last week, or maybe both. I just explained the one thing, so go read the other thing and meet me back here in 5 minutes.

So since I don’t have to do a ton of preamble here, I’m just going to pretend I got a 2,000 word writing start on account of you just read last week’s article and I’m just going to leap into more product. GET READY.

One thing I didn’t mention last week is that as the decks begin to sell because it turns out I sometimes know what I am talking about, the Japanese versions of the decks will lag behind. Japanese EDH cards tend to lag behind English in price quite a bit because Japan doesn’t play EDH and players in English-speaking countries like to be able to read and have their cards read. Which card draws a card when an enchantment comes into play and which draws a card when you play an enchantment from your hand between Argothian Enchantress and Eidolon of Blossoms? You may be pretty sure, but being able to read the cards helps. If you’re buying cards predicated on Competitive EDH, however, the foil Commanders, especially the partner Commanders, are just as valuable in Japanese, sometimes more. These players want to play 100 card Vintage down to the premium versions of the cards. Japanese foil Thrasios is going to be sought by cEDH players, so the Japanese versions of the decks are not bad if you can find homes for the rest of the cards. I personally downgrade my own Sol Rings and Swiftfoot Boots into Japanese and sell the English copy I just freed up, but if you’re buying more than 5 decks, that’s not doable. Consider buying English if the non-foil cards in the deck are not almost all staples.

Thrasios is not often discussed in EDH without it being alongside Tymna, the Weaver and Tymna is in a deck that has a non-trivial amount of value in it. The deck is $100 and the $55 Tymna takes a huge bite out of that. The $18 Tana, the Bloodsower is on its way up, Ravos is $15 on its way to $30, Conquerer’s Flail is currently $10, there’s a Lightning Greaves, a Skullclamp and some of the EDH staples like Beastmaster Ascension and Blind Obedience that went a few years without a reprinting are starting to nudge up. It’s easy to flip the Tymna and get a free deck or flip the deck and get a free Tymna. Act fast and you should be in good shape.

Other decks from that era are in play given the fact that partner commanders are targeted right now and you can sell for inflated prices now that most of the sellers on TCG Player are offline.

Even the least exciting deck, Stalwart Uprising, is in play given the rising price of the partner commanders and the partners commander that is Kynaios and Tiro. K&T (Not Kydele and Thrasios, the other K&T) are at $15, approaching $20, Ludevic is in the same boat and the deck has both a Propaganda and a Ghostly Prison on top of a host of $3 cards. I’m not as eager to attempt the flip with this deck as I am the others, but even the least desirable deck here has potential if Sidar Kondo goes up from $5 or the other ones hit $30 like they just might.

Ironically enough, Breed Lethality has very little value outside of Atraxa, something I predicted but only as a joke. Time has a way of changing attitudes about boring commanders like Atraxa, the popular cards from the popular deck have a tendency to get reprinted, the desirability means the copies don’t end up stranded on store shelves and WotC could have secretly shipped more of the Breed Lethality decks than the other ones. We have seen this over and over in the past with the Commander decks, so when a deck is selling out like Breed Lethality, Mind Seize and whatever deck has Dockside Extortionist in it, try and see if you can get discounted copies of the least desirable deck. Sometimes it turns into money with Blade of Selves, Urza’s Incubator and Fiery Confluence being in the top 5 most expensive cards in the set and sometimes you end up with the 2013 Naya deck where the second-most expensive card is Wrath of God. That Homeward Path tho.

If you’re looking for another way to get the decks cheaper, consider being less picky. Since we’re buying to open and flip, being in pristine, sealed condition isn’t necessary. People who bought Commander Anthology sets, for example, might not want every deck and some are gettable on eBay for a discount.

$50 for a Wade Into Battle isn’t bad at all given the $12 Blade of Selves and the $18 Urza’s Incubator, although they used to be cheaper and the ship has mostly sailed. You’re banking on Fiery Confluence staying around $10, Basalt Monolith continuing to climb and Gisela not getting reprinted for a while. For the record, I don’t hate those bets and this is a good way to get those cards to play with. If you are good at eBay or message sellers privately to make an offer, you can do even better. Paying full price isn’t the kind of advice you pay me for, after all.

ONE WORD (errr, paragraph) OF CAUTION

Sites that aggregate the prices of these decks will often spit out a figure like “$230 for a C17 Precon!” and that is not to be trusted. Think about what you will get back after fees if you’re not keeping the cards. Fees hurt on a $15 card but they eat all of the profit on a $0.75 one. If you have a huge TCG Player store, sell direct, or think that someone buying a Whispersilk Cloak is likely to get a bunch of other cards, consider those cards value, but a bulk rare is calculated at $0.75-$0.99 by those sites and they’re really a dime, if you can get that. Add up the values of the cards you can get close to retail for and call everything else bulk. That will help you avoid paying $45 for $120 worth of cards that’s actually $35. You’re much better off paying $35 for a deck with a $30 Dockside Extortionist because at least you know what that’s worth.

That does it for me. Until next time!