Category Archives: Jason Alt

On Clerics: The Article I Said in the Spoiler Coverage I Was Going to Write

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I’m helping with the Spoiler Coverage for Oath of the Gatewatch. Well, I mean, am I helping, or am I just doing it and DJ is helping me? I’ll let you be the judge. Unless you think I’m helping him and not the other way around. Then I’m never letting you be the judge again. Usually you have to go to law school first, and you suck at it.

I said in said coverage that DJ is helping me with that I was going to write about one of the cards at length, because while I expect it’s probably going to be a bulk rare, I also expect it’s going to make an entire deck playable that people have wanted to play and have not been able to. I’m talking, of course, about Mono-Black Splash White Kor Tribal™.

The Coming Tide

aylieternalpilgrim

Real talk, though, having a black-white legendary cleric is something that people have wanted since EDH was a thing. We want four-color commanders, we want an Izzet-colored Commander that deals with artifacts, and we want a cockadoodie black and white cockadoodie cleric so we can build a COCK-A-DOODIE CLERIC DECK.

cleric

We’ve waited for long enough. Ayli and Daxos have made me seriously consider converting to Orzhov, and this is after Simic basically gave me everything I ever wanted in the form of the new Ezuri. Infinite turns with Sage of Hours? That’s cool. What have you done for me lately? Lumping myself in with Orzhov people who have waited patiently for this momentous occasion aside, what would the deck play and what can we even make money off of?

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The deck would play a lot of back and white clerics cards, and those cards are old enough to be scarce, yet new enough to be available in foil. This pleases me. There’s gold in them thar’ hills, and we can mine it ahead of the coming gold rush if we’re canny enough to know where to start prospectin’. So let’s prospect.

EDHREC is a great resource for us, but without a commander to plug in, it’s hard to know where to start. It’s time to strap on our gumshoes and do some old-fashioned detective work. I googled “BW Clerics EDH” and looked at a few decks to see if they had anything in common. This gave me my first lead.

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This card will go in 100 percent of Ayli decks. It’s a way to gain life to make sure you switch on her last ability. It’s a way to kill people. Can you imagine having a ton of clerics and just one-shotting an opponent by saccing Doubtless One to this land?

Foils are under $2, and that seems insane but also easy to fix. There just aren’t a ton of copies of this land out there, and EDH players aren’t really socking these away into collections and decks because there really wasn’t a way to build this deck unless you did what some people did and built around Teysa or an Esper-colored creature that served to occupy your command zone while you played the clerics you wanted to play. With an actual commander, this land will be the first card to go, and with as cheap and rare as it is, I see real upside. Not only was identifying this card a leg up, it also gave me something to search EDHREC for.

How many decks that weren’t running a ton of clerics were going to run this land? Very, very few. This gave me a list of cards that were frequently paired in decks with Starlit Sanctum. So which cards are likely to go up based on the abundance of new clerics decks built around Ayli?

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Now here’s a real card. This can go in other decks, probably, but if we’re going to be sacrificing a ton of clerics, this gives us a way to replace them with bodies, and it has crossover appeal with zombie decks. Kinda. The point is that this has been pretty steady, had a recent brush with arbitrage, and is generally in low enough supply that it could easily jump over $5 and beyond if people give it any attention. How do I know a ton of people aren’t paying attention? Easy.

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The foil is has a multiplier of only two. Casual players are making Rotlung Reanimator a $2.50 card with a $5 foil, and Ayli can really drive both prices up and make the foil multiplier diverge. A foil cleric deck is doable right now with only a few cards like Auriok Champion being prohibitively expensive to foil out. I feel like the foils cost now what the non-foils could cost very soon if people start to build around Ayli.

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How about that Tiny Leaders format? I am not going to sit here and say, “I told you so,” but I did refuse to write about Tiny Leaders as a format before it really established itself as something other than a flash in the pan, and every subsequent “next hotness” that comes along like 1994 and Canadian Highlander I vow to stay out of for a year to give myself time to learn about them and for the formats to fizzle out. Now that the price of this cleric is returning to earth, be cautioned. The copies of this card are concentrated in the hands of speculators who couldn’t sell them, dealers foolish enough to jack up their buy price, and store display cases. When a card spikes after not really being a real card, copies come out of the woodwork. Speculators hit every LGS in the area to scour bulk bins and binders. People buylist them because they were junk and now they are worth something. Loose copies all get concentrated. If this card spikes again, even a little, the market will get flooded with copies. This is still too expensive for what it is, and I don’t see financial opportunity in trying to bank on this card going up based on clerics being popular. It’s a good card and good in the deck. It goes in the deck. But you’re not going to make money on this, I fear. There are too many people looking to undersell you to dump their hella copies and a much bigger shock will be needed to move the needle.

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Tapping five clerics may look a little steep, but gaining 10 life is a reusable way to keep your Ayli switched on and keep yourself from dying to regular damage. This is also a very old foil that’s under $2 and will go in every Ayli deck that’s built with victory in mind. This card’s fate, like so many cards in this article, is directly tied to Ayli, but with Commander players clamoring for a black-white cleric and finally getting their prayers answered, there is real upside. This card fuels several clericy win conditions, as well as making sure you can keep nuking non-land permanents with Ayli. This is a must-include.

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So many foil staples under $2. This is making me really want to just build this deck. A recent arbitrage opportunity and dealer behavior showing they are willing to come very close to the retail price, repeatedly, shows that dealers have a tough time keeping the relatively small number of copies in stock, but are willing to get these in and sell them for a small margin. This card is biggity-bonkers in a clerics deck and can make you friends at the table and keep your life total high enough to keep Ayli switched on. This is dumb. Under $2 is dumb.

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If this card were older, it might be closer to $2 in foil instead of the $1 in foil it is now. Protecting your life total is important, and this card can keep you from dying to a token swarm or cards like Goblin Bombardment, which happens more often than you might think. Expensive mana-wise, this is worth it. And it’s cheap money-wise, so I’m even more inclined to just build a foil clerics deck. The foil Debtors’ Knell will suck, but the rest of the cards are like a damn dollar. For now, that is.

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Conversely, casuals are already very aware of this tough-to-destroy creature who can get very large and very formidable very quickly. With foils at $13, there is room for divergence. It looks like this card will go up over time anyway, so it’s hard to lose here.

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I don’t know if you jam this in the deck, and if you do, how many, but just remember these were sitting on draft chaff piles for free and they’re approaching $2 and $5 in foil. Just thought this card was worth revisiting.

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This only tacks on $3 to our foil cleric deck price and it does WORK. A recent brush with arbitrage shows at least one dealer has confidence this will get somewhere some day. Personally, I just think it goes in the deck and probably just the one deck, but there is real upside. This is good in the deck.

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“Hey guys, remember me? Well, I make clerics. You need to sacrifice a cleric? Use one of mine. Can I make the game get out of control? Yep, sure can.”

Heliod seems to have bottomed out and is starting to creep back up. He’s a much more useful card in EDH than he was in Standard, and I expect to see him pass a few lesser gods on his way up. He makes enchantments and clerics at the same time. So many decks want that. Foils are only $8 for now, which seems super reasonable.

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I am seeing a lot of recent arbitrage opportunities on these $2 foils, and all around the same point in history. I wonder what happened that crazy month. Probably an article like this one. Am I creating false hysteria? I don’t think so—we’re getting a CLERIC COMMANDER.

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There are a few other creatures that are probably shoo-ins, like Eight-and-a-Half-Tails and Auriok Champion, a card that costs as much as the rest of the deck at $50 in foil. Those are fairly obvious. Put basically every cleric creature in the deck. Heliod, though, is less obvious, and I think you read my column because I come up with some things you might not have thought of on your own. How does this pile of clerics become a deck?

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This should take some of the sting out of sacrificing your clerics all day long. Getting them back for value all the time and being able to use Ayli a lot will feel good, and this card goes in lots of other decks. It’s not going to go down in price much, if at all, and any bump in demand should send the price up a bit. This is a solid place to park some money. I may even spring for the foil at $21. This foil clerics deck will be fun.

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This $6 card is available for $9 in foil. A 1.5x multiplier tells me that casual players love this card, and foil nuts like I’m gradually becoming aren’t as keen yet. But as cheap as it is, I’m springing for the foil, as there are so few copies that people paying attention to this card should see that multiplier grow even if the non-foil price grows more slowly. This card says “win the game” on it and rewards you for gaining life like you already planned to. Deal.

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The reprint at non-mythic rare threw this card off a cliff. You can pretend this is a $4 card all you want, but Battle for Zendikar copies are bulk. BFZ foils are $2. Will this card recover? Yes. Just not this year.

This used to be a $30 foil. I almost bought one, and I’m glad I didn’t, but even if I had shelled out like $25 for this, I would have been able to use it for a year before its price took a dump, and winning games with this would have made it worth it. BFZ foils at $2 seems interesting, but remember, it’s not mythic anymore, and that sucks. Now I know how Yu-Gi-Oh! financiers feel.

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Do people just not know about this card? How is this not more expensive? In any case, this does work in a deck where you are sacrificing your guys and want them back to sacrifice them again. This card is from Urza’s Saga, meaning it’s old enough to vote, and we’re not getting more of these printed because it’s so busted that Wizards saw fit to include it on the Reserved List. With the cards in Battle for Zendikar that reward sacrifice, this seems like it has upside to me.

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This could get reprinted, but until it does, why not Grave Pact them and make them not want to cast removal spells on your stuff? This card is growing very steadily because it’s busted, and clerics decks where your commander is a sacrifice outlet won’t shy away from this card by any means.

I went way over my word count and didn’t  even jam in my usual space-wasting rhetoric this week. This is a topic that could have easily yielded another full article full of picks. What I suggest is looking at how the deck would be built and getting ahead of the people who will likely want to build around Ayli when the set is released. Forewarned is forearmed, so be armed with the info from this article or I will forearm you in the throat. You know, with my forearm. That word means two things.

Did I make a clerical error and forget to include an obvious cleric card? Leave it in the comments below. Until next week, nerds. Smell ya later!

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What a Waste

So that Wastes card is all but confirmed, isn’t it?

Wastes

This guy. The card that is *wink wink, nudge nudge* unconfirmed. I am not going to 100 percent say that we know this card is real, but I don’t think it would kill us to pretend it is.

Kill Shot

This card actually matters a great deal even if it’s not real, because it’s going to drive buying behavior for a little bit, and if it is real, everyone who was waiting for confirmation is going to act and only those who bought before they got confirmation are in a position to benefit. Let’s look at every possible consequence of this card within an EDH-finance perspective and try to see how much this card matters and how likely we think it is to be real.

I think it’s probably real. I’ve heard from a few people who design proxies, most notably “Proxy Guy” (@theproxyguy) that if this card is a fake, it’s flawless. For a while, the odd symbol on the card appeared like it might be a dreaded sixth mana color. Players who are optimistic like me when I’m drinking (but only the right amount and the right stuff—like, Whiskey Jason is only optimistic about his ability to beat school buses in fights and Tequilla Jason blacks out and tells people he invented time travel, but only a few hours into the future and your pants can’t travel into the future with you) will tell you they think this is just a basic land that taps for colorless mana.

How do we explain Newzilek (Newlamog rolls off the tongue so much better) and the fact that he has colorless mana in his casting cost?

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Kozilek-the-Great-Distortion

 

Being charitable, we’ll assume the two diamond shapes are colorless mana that originated from a source that produces colorless mana and the other eight mana can come from colored sources. You can tap eight forests and two wastes, for example, but you can’t tap ten forests. That seems a little bit clunky and unintuitive, but the alternative is living in a world where Wizards of the Coast took all of the design work Johnathon Loucks did plus all of the feedback they have gotten from EDH players with colorless generals, put all of those things into a pile, and peed on them. Just peed right on that pile of mostly intangible concepts.

peepressure

I don’t want to live in a world where Wizards of the Coast pees on concepts. I want to live in a world where I can play Evolving Wilds in my Karn, Silver Golem EDH deck, should I ever hate winning enough to build that kind of deck. Although, maybe I will build it, because the idea of using Liquimetal Coating to assassinate their lands one by one or attack them for seven with Spine of Ish Sah makes me laugh.

So maybe it’s not just wastes that produce this diamond mana. Maybe other lands tap for it and maybe it’s just a new and totally unnecessary way to denote colorless mana. Did we have other clues? You bet.

mirrorpool

There’s that symbol again. So, either only lands from this set produce this mana (stupid) or this is the new way lands that tap for only colorless will denote that (stupid, but less stupid, so it wins).

Battle of Wits

Let’s ignore how totally hot sex Mirrorpool is in EDH for a few weeks, even though this card is. It’s hot, hot sex. Can you think of a deck that doesn’t want to do any of those things? Oh, you can’t? And Crucible of Worlds is a card? Interesting. I hope this card’s real. You know what else I hope is real? The last piece of the puzzle.

mysticgate

There’s that fugly diamond again. I could kiss you, fugly diamond. I could kiss your fugly, foil f$^%*@# face.

I don’t want to talk about the price of a Mystic Gate Expeditions land will cost, because I just started thinking of the analysis I could do to figure it out, and correctly predicting the price of something that the market will dictate the price of before any of us can preorder them and no one can make any money from short of buying packs and busting them is a lot of work to show off, maybe be wrong, and not talk about what I wanted to talk about when I started writing this article.

"Ach! Hans, Run!"

Let’s stick with the task at hand. Still, if this is real, we’re getting foily, fantastic filter lands in EDH, and maybe some other formats, too, I guess. It also confirms the diamond symbol. There will be DIRE CONSEQUENCES.

Card with Symbols

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I did this in MS paint because I was out touching girls’ boobs when the rest of you nerds were learning how to photoshop boobs onto the Facebook pictures of the girls in your homeroom class. The point still stands: if they’re committed to the stupid diamond thing outside of this block, and therefore for the rest of the time this wacky card game keeps selling, this is how the next Sol Ring might look. Why is this important? Well, it’s new. And new could matter.

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Oh, the plateaus and plummets of our old friend. Every time it looked like the card might get back on its feet, another reprint came and kicked the legs out from under it like old Brooks kicked the legs out from under the chair he was standing on when he carved “Brooks was here” in the support beam in the room in the halfway house where he was staying after getting paroled from Shawshank. Who’s going to feed old Brooks’s crows, now? Are you? No, all you care about is yourself.

Greed

Maybe you want to think about other people for a second, though. Because people have different opinions. Some people think Shawshank Redemption wasn’t one of the greatest movies of all time. They’re wrong, but since we can’t put a snubnose .38 in their face (the very same gun that was use to frame old Andy Dufrense) and force them to buy a DVD copy, we have to tolerate their points of view.

The point is: preference could come into play. I can’t guess at the exact distribution, but there will be people who prefer the new double diamond look of the Sol Ring from Commander 2016 which, let’s not pretend we all don’t think is happening, and the people who prefer the classic circle deuces look. People will prefer one or the other, and the new look could mean the price won’t be quite as cheap as we expect, even though there will be a Sol Ring in every deck. The price of the new, diamondy Sol Ring is likely to finish above the many different printings of the older ring, and the price divergence could stabilize the price of the older versions, as the preference players have for the different versions could have a stabilizing effect on the supply and demand curve.

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Ditto here, and maybe moreso.

Colorless Cards

There are EDH staples and then there are narrower staples. It’s the manabase pain in the ass that kept people from building a deck with a colorless commander. There are a lot of colorless cards with upside if people start to build more decks with colorless commanders, made easier by Wastes. Maybe Newzilek would be a sweet commander.

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An artifact that is less useless in mono-artifact decks all of a sudden? Be still my beating heart. The Commander 2015 version of Marvin the Paranoid Android is hovering under $3 and has some real upside at that price. I don’t see it getting any lower. It’s a damn Solemn Simulacrum. True, there is a chance it’s reprinted a year from now, but I bet it goes up enough from $2.50 that you’ll be glad you bought in. Besides, being able to fetch Wastes is unprecedented for this card, and when people realize how much applicability it will have in a type of deck people weren’t building before, I see real upside. The original version is still the most expensive because it looks the coolest (why have an Invitational and do a portrait of the winner on the card they designed if you’re going to change the art later? It’s dumb) and because it’s super rare compared to the rest. It’s also got a foil version.

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The new applicability in the colorless decks could be the kick in the ass frowny Jens needs to climb the charts again. You could get an ugly 2012 version in foil, but you could also join the Hare Krishnas or pierce your own nipples with that kit you bought on Amazon because the directions looked so easy, and that cute goth chick in your computer programming class said “tight” when you mentioned you thought you might get a piercing (and you didn’t mean it), but maybe this could be your in; you could be like “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” and maybe the piercing she shows you won’t haunt your nightmares. The point is: don’t buy ugly foils and don’t pierce your nips. That chick’s getting back together with her ex, everyone knows that.

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The third printing, even though it was at mythic, brought this card down to a new low. According to EDHREC, this is a +47% synergy rating for Karn, Silver Golem, a commander with upside with Wastes. This can’t get cheaper barring a reprint, and it could be turning the corner already.

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This thing is almost impossible to reprint, and it’s already doing what we expect it to do. Dealer confidence could be higher, but you never know what caused the behavior which was following the plot to tail off. What we do know is this card is nutter butters with artifacts.

It’s not just artifacts that could benefit here. A new Kozilek and new Ulamog give us a chance at having sicko Commanders, ready to come out of the Command Zone and get into trouble. Although Wastes may figure into the mana base, it won’t be the only thing.

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Can we agree this card isn’t going anywhere but up?

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At first glance, there’s no money to be made here. Bulk rares in in-print sets that are non-mythic in the post-mythic era aren’t going to be significantly buoyed by EDH alone, but wait. Let’s look at another graph.

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Foils under $3? Thanks, generous multiplier stymied by a low non-foil price. If this card preserves this multiplier (it can’t) this could be a $50 foil as the non-foil grows, but I’m thinking we’re seeing a divergence due to the high desirability and low relative availability of the foil versus the non-foil, and I expect more divergence is possible.

We can explore a few more examples later. I have a final point I want to make.

Wastes Themselves

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Awwww, yiss. Playing with Wastes is going to be sicko. How do we evaluate the price of Wastes? Are they in every booster? Are they inserted as a sixth basic land? Do they replace a common? Are they mixed in with commons? Will this be the last set with them? What I think is important to know is that these will likely be discarded by Limited players and are worth jamming in a box if you get them for free. I think it’s unlikely they will be printed again soon, and if they are, I doubt it will be full-art. This is free money.

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Here’s a card to look at.  Four printings have beleaguered its price, but it’s still hanging in there. Imagine only one printing of this card. I realize it’s uncommon from a much older set, but it’s also a card that everyone who wants them wants a lot of. Foils are $4 to $7 depending on the set. Want a closer example?

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I feel like Wastes are$1 (or more!) cards waiting to happen. Snow-covered lands are cool, but Ice Age gave us a ton of them so the two printings limit the upside.

Here’s a price you should have memorized as we go into preorder season:

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Is $10 unreasonable for foil Wastes? I don’t think so. If you can get them for very cheap, imagine what a foil, full-art Wastes could go for very easily in a year or so. Will Wastes be in every set? Return to Return to Zendikar only? Will they never print them again? All I know is that we have some decent price corollaries and we should be mindful of them going into “busting packs of Oath of the Gatewatch” season. There will be full-art lands in the fat packs again, there will be Expeditions lands again, but there will also be foil Wastes. As far as I know, that’s worth paying attention to.

After my article last week went a little bit long, I was told my article this week would have a hard cap at 2200 words and that was non-negotiable. No matter what I was talking about, 2200 is the cap, so I need to work on being a little pithier. I understand the need to be more succinct in my writing and respect the decision to cap me. I’d like to thank you all for reading and I invite you to join me next week when the topic of my article will be


 

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What’s Good?

If you want to pay less than $15 for a Reiterate right now, you can’t. Copies began disappearing from the internet at the beginning of the weekend, and it may be surprising to some people what the catalyst was. Those of us at MTGPrice who are familiar with EDH figured it out.

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I have been about that EDHREC life for a while, and it’s been paying dividends. Ideally, we’d like to use these tools to predict these things before they happen, but the first step toward predicting future spikes is analyzing past spikes and finding out what occurred. In this case, someone decided that Reiterate was very good and decided to buy out the internet. The card is played in enough decks and is explosive enough in decks built around the new Izzet commander, Mizzix, that they felt a new price would stick. I don’t expect the $25 I see people trying to get to stick, but I bet the new price is around $10. The card was roughly $3 to $4 before, but I frequently got them shipped to me as “bulk” rares, so I expect copies to come out of the woodwork now and the supply will far outstrip a modest demand. Still, Reiterate is really good in Mizzix as well as Chandra and Jaya and Wort and the other commanders Douglas mentioned in his tweet.

Most of those commanders aren’t new, so the only thing that is new here is the card has demonstrated how busted it is in Mizzix and someone has decided that we’ll pay five times as much for the card from now on.

Maybe they’re right. After all, there are probably a lot of cards that are busted in the new decks. Reiterate has the distinction of being oldish (Time Spiral), not having reprints, having a keyword ability (buyback) that means it’s less reprintable than a card without such an ability, and did we mention it’s super busted in Mizzix? When you don’t have to pay colorless mana for it, it’s dumb and you  can copy every spell you play. Who doesn’t want that?

Can we pick out the next reiterate? We don’t all get the benefit of a buyout like we saw here, but we can have copies of similar good cards and be ready if a buyout does happen, or the inevitable march of progress pushes cards that are used frequently in decks that people are building this month up in value. Commander 2015 came out close enough to Christmas that I expect people to get these as presents, and the effect of the new generals to be spread out a bit so we have some time to get ready. Why not use the same website that we used to justify the reiterate spike to see what else is good?

Mizzix

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There are a lot of reprints in the “top cards” for this deck. And why not? Since it’s a brand new commander, a lot of people who build the deck are going to use a lot of cards that came packaged in the same precon Mizzix came in, and a few of those cards are very good in the deck and that’s why they were such obvious reprints in the deck. Still, there might be a card or two worth watching.

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This has demonstrated the ability to hit $10 more than once in the past. It’s a two- to four-of in Legacy, and it is very good in a deck where the cards in your graveyard will have their mana cost reduced. I like this at its current price, and with retail plateauing and buylist price creeping up, movement may come sooner than later.

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All Is Dust isn’t getting cheaper. I expect it to rebound from the reprinting it got in Modern Masters 2015 this summer, and that this is the cheapest it will ever be. In two years, when this is $12, everyone is going to look at this graph and say, “Wow, when was it ever that cheap?” and not be at all surprised it went back up. Modern Tron isn’t going away and this being a zero-mana wrath in Mizzix. It’s a good target. It’s not Reiterate good, but it’s solid and at its floor.

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I think it will take more than EDH to push Spell Burst up from a quarter to a price you will be glad you bought in, but the foils look juicy, even at $5. Spell Burst is dumb in Mizzix, also.

Let’s go looking at other Commanders.

Ezuri

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We should be able to find some gems when we look at what people are playing with Ezuri. I took all of these cards from the EDHREC page for Ezuri unless I state otherwise.

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This is a no-brainer. With enough experience counters, Ezuri can dump enough counters on this that you can set up and infinite turn loop. Foils of this haven’t even moved. I realize this isn’t as old and rare as Reiterate, but it’s also dumb and cheap and stupid, and if someone else starts buying aggressively, how obvious this is with Ezuri should start an avalanche. At under $2, it should be easy to trade for every copy of this in your LGS and buy a few to fill your spec box.

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This may get a few cents cheaper, and I would wait to see what happens as more copies of the Golgari deck are opened, but this card and Ezuri go together like peas and carrots (or like exaggerated caricatures of the mildly mentally handicapped and Academy Awards). They put it in the wrong deck but you can always go back and put it in the right one. Mycoloth is always going to be nuts in EDH, but it’s especially nuts in Ezuri decks. Left unchecked, you will just make a trillion saprolings a turn, and it’s hard to lose at that point.

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Being from a recent set doesn’t help much, but being from an under-bought core set offsets that to an extent. I think this is one of the best decks for Skulker and I always thought this was just dumb in EDH. Lots of UG decks played Lorescale Coatl already, and this is just better. Wait, he triggers Ezuri and gives him experience counters when he dies or gets bolstered when Ezuri is handing out counters? Sign me up.

Kalemne

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This deck is pretty boring and a lot of the cards that are appearing in a majority of the decks and therefore triggering a high correlation rating in EDHREC are in the precon. Still, I think there are a few gems.

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This isn’t going to get cheaper and it’s actually stupid good in Kalemne. You are playing bigger creatures than average, so giving them a boost plus lifelink and first strike is going to make combat fairly miserable. Even if your opponent is chump blocking, you’re going to gain so much life they will struggle to kill you unless they just play Magister Sphinx like a dirty piece of trash.

“Nice card, Steve, real fair, no, leave it in the deck, leave it in, it’s a cool card. I mean you played Praetor’s Grasp and Bribery on me this game, so why not just make my life total ten with your stupid cheat sphinx? I know you drank one of my IPAs when I went out to get pizza, too, and speaking of pizza, I want the seven bucks you owe me for pizza, Steve, you dick. I’m playing Maelstrom Wanderer next game.”

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Sure, the reprinting hurt this guy, but he is on the rebound and it’s a good time to buy. Blade of Selves is a card we are very interested in tutoring up, and this guy does just that. He can also get Sunforger and other equipment which is handy. This is a good card and EDH decks will always want him.

Meren

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This deck is all about value, bringing creatures back from the dead over and over. Let’s see if it’s about the other kind of value, also.

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Is this card a good buy around $1?

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I dunno. You tell me.

Awakening Zone has shrugged of multiple reprintings to still be the price it is today, and with From Beyond being situationally a much better card, I can’t imagine we won’t see a similar price trajectory. I plan to jam about 100 copies in my spec box, mostly from trading, and see what happens in two years. Not as many reprints as Awakening Zone got, that’s for sure.

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If loving this card is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Can you believe it hit 50 cents? I couldn’t either, so I bought lots of them. I traded for a lot more. I used dealer trade-in bonuses to turn other cheap rares into copies of this card. If this never hits at least $4, I will be really surprised. I realize it’s a recent non-mythic, but come on, read the card. It’s more expensive than Grave Pact but also easier to cast, especially in a three-color deck like Prossh. This card is nutty in Meren and Mazirek as well as other decks it was already good in.

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This will probably not be unbanned in Modern for a while, if ever, but it’s still A+ tutelage in EDH and still has some Legacy relevance, to the extent that Legacy is relevant. Is this done falling? I hope not. I want lots and lots of these the closer if it gets to a dollar. Gimme!

Daxos

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This is going to be fun, but it’s also going to take a minute for any cards here to spike because these will all have very high correlation values for Daxos, as a lot of these cards aren’t super useful elsewhere. It will be up to Daxos to be popular and push these cards up, but I think it can do it.

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If Daxos takes off, this is a $50 card or EDH has zero influence on prices.  There is no in-between. This card just needs a nudge and its non-zero relevance in Legacy can help justify the new price to people. There are very few copies of this online, and if you can get these with a trade-in bonus rather than taking cash when you buylist to a site that has a few copies, do it.

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I expected a little bit of a dip at rotation, but as this card’s price was never really predicated on Standard, it shrugged off that chance to dip in price. This is stupid with Daxos and with Sanctum, and I talk about that a lot but that’s because it’s true. This is a $5 card in a $3 card’s body and it will figure that out. The real question is how long will it be $5? I don’t know how high this can get, and it certainly can’t ever be as much as Purphoros or Xenagos, two ridiculous EDH commanders that are at home in a lot of 99s. This card is tied to one commander in general, Daxos, and that’s a lot to ask of a single commander. Still, this card is likely to go up because of how dumb it is with a good commander, so if you can trade for these with a Standard player who forgot to dump them at rotation or something, snag them.

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This is way more playable than Heliod, replacing Greed, replacing “players can’t gain life” effects, and being a strong commander as well as 99-inclusion. The stark difference in playability is not reflected in a stark difference in price.

Yet.

I really feel EDHREC can work both ways for us. Not only can we use it as a tool to say, “Well, it’s no wonder this card spiked,” after a card goes up in price seemingly irrespective of playability in the formats that people who think they know a lot about Magic pay attention to, I think we can predict things, or at least see which card’s prices are tied to a specific general and which are format staples.

While we’re at it, this happened.

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Can you think of any additional stats that would be helpful to you? Dream something up and leave it in the comment section for me to pass along, or you can message EDHREC directly. They’re willing to develop metrics that finance people will find useful, and we’d be insane not to take them up on it. I have a few ideas of my own, but I want to see what you come up with, The site is very useful as-is, but I bet we can come up with something great.

Until next week!

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Building an EDH Deck: A Finance Exercise

You either play EDH or you don’t.

“Wow, Jason, that’s profound. Way to identify the only two types of people on the planet with respect to EDH” –You

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Look, I made a Venn diagram

Look, I was making a point before I was so rudely interrupted. Yes, I realize most of the people on the planet don’t play EDH and some of you do. But I meant that with respect to just my readers. Some of you play EDH, some of you don’t.

For those of you who don’t but are still interested in the financial opportunities, thanks for reading. I realize it’s literally torture to read a finance article that concerns cards from a format you don’t play, and you’re sticking with it because of my animal magnetism (and because I occasionally make jokes at Corbin Hosler’s and Douglas Johnson’s expense. Trust me, Doug deserves it).

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Whether or not you actually play EDH, you can get a sense of which cards are poised to do something and which cards are in higher demand than others. High demand cards can be moved for closer to retail and fringier cards are better to buylist, so sorting your cards on this basis can help you figure out which cards to ship on PucaTrade or TCGplayer and which to just ship to buylists. And although  trading tends to suck, I still make a ton of money trading for Standard cards that EDH players don’t care about and for EDH cards that Standard players don’t care about.

You know how we keep saying “value is subjective?” That’s not just a way we rationalize ripping someone off in a trade (not something I advocate, and karma has a way of catching up with people who do this)—it is also a reminder that when you are trading a pile of cards someone considers very useful for a pile they consider useless, they are more likely to be generous and skew the trade in your favor a bit yet end up way happier with the trade than you are. Trading straight across isn’t a losing proposition when your $3 Standard rare will be a dime in a year and the $3 EDH staple will be $5 in a year. Hell, even if the $3 EDH card is $3 in a year, you made $2.90 on the trade.

Have you ever built an EDH deck? Some of you have, some of you haven’t. I don’t mean just physically sleeving up a deck, but making a decklist that ends up as a working 100-card pile? I want to advocate going through some of the motions of building a deck as a mental exercise to familiarize yourself with some EDH staples and EDH deckbuilding resources. It forces you to stay on top of prices, see cards you may have “glossed over” in a new light and make you remember to watch their price changes, and in general, interface more with EDH people who give you all the information you need to make good finance calls without even knowing it. You don’t need to be EDH Jesus to make good financial calls. I’m going to go through my deckbuilding process and tell you every step I take and every discovery I make. Let’s build a deck and see what we figure out.

Make Like Bob Vila and Build a Deck

I have talked about some of these cards and resources in the past, but I don’t care because I’m actually going to build the list we come up with at the end of this process, because I bought the Daxos the Returned precon and found a Serra’s Sanctum in a collection I bought.

(There was also a Tolarian Academy in that collection. Guess which card is worth more money. Surprised? This is what EDH does to card prices sometimes. If Tolarian Academy were legal in EDH, you’d really see the effect. In fact, that would be a great lesson: Sanctum, Academy, Cradle.  You could see how EDH relevance stacks up against EDH-plus-Legacy or EDH-plus-Vintage. As it is, Sanctum is a $50 card waiting to happen and I’m glad I pulled one in a collection. I tend to try to avoid buying cards I advocate, and I strongly advocate Sanctum.)

Let’s build a Daxos deck that makes the most of Sanctum. But if we’re not sure where to start, what do we do?

Tapped Out

Tapped Out is a website where decks are listed, debated, analyzed, and scrutinized. I keep meaning to post my decks there to see what people think, but I’m scared of their criticism busy restoring old cars and chopping down trees and a third man thing.

I like the site a lot because it gives you a lot of data at your fingertips. The graphical representation of color balance, mana ratios, and other at-a-glance info is good, but there are other, hidden metrics that not many financiers are aware of, because why would you go that deep on an EDH website when MTGPrice tells you so much info on its home page? Well, there’s a good reason. I have covered this before, but I want to be sure people know this and that is the “demand” page as I call it. Clicking on a card in a deck list will take you to a screen with info for that card. Further down the page is a box with some tabs.

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If you look at the “trade” tab or click on it, you can see who is offering the card for trade and who needs it and you can contact those users privately. This is a good place to find trades and you can potentially finagle them to be in your favor value-wise. Remember, these are players looking to play, not value hounds, so you can potentially get rid of downward-trending cards and pick up upward-trending ones. It’s worth playing with.

It’s also worth noting that despite its high appeal, eight times as many people have spare copies of this card than want them. It’s readily abundant. Despite Dictate of Erebos seeming like a slam-dunk of a card considering it can be found for under a dollar and it does the same thing as a $10 Grave Pact, it is going to take a while because copies are everywhere and lots of players have lots of extras.  If you poke around long enough, you can find cards that have pent-up demand: more people who want them than people who have them.

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It took me literally five seconds to try a few links in the exact same decklist and find that Greater Auramancy has pent-up demand. Do you think its current price will hold if it’s an auto-include in Daxos, people are building Daxos, it hasn’t been reprinted, and more people on Tapped Out want it than are willing to part with it? Maybe you can contact the people who have it and see what they want, thereby picking up a powerful, popular card for cardboard rather than cash. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, just how to make some value or pay $13 for a card that’s $20 or more next week that you want for your deck. I’m negotiating to trade for my copy since I want one in my deck.

Tapped Out can also give you a big list of other decks with the same Commander in the bottom right of the page. I like Tapped Out a lot, and whenever I’m brewing a new Commander deck, I like to see what people building the deck already came up with.

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The suggestions people make are also very good, and a lot of the time, you can click on the link to the suggested card’s page and learn a lot about the card. Did you know about Koskun Falls? Not a lot of people do. It’s worth researching.

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Ultimately, Daxos decks haven’t made it jump and neither did the printing of King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, but it is still an interesting card and worth knowing about. Homelands has exactly one worthwhile card in it, so there are loose falls everywhere, but you won’t suffer from having one in your binder to swap for a bulk rare from a recent set you think has potential. The card could have easily been something worth watching like another card from the list.

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This card is way more interesting. Click around on some of the cards you may not be familiar with in the lists built by people who already built the deck you’re looking to “build” (theoretical or otherwise) and you may find some interesting cards. Contamination does a lot of work in Daxos and other annoying decks. It’s a nonbo with Sanctum and getting white mana in general, so I’m not sold on it for this list, but if other Daxos players are toying with it, it’s worth knowing about.

Tapped Out is great for seeing complete decklists and seeing the cards in context of a deck, but it is really time-consuming to try and see which cards are used in common in a lot of the decks. Tapped Out doesn’t do that analysis for us. Fortunately, there is a site that does.

EDHREC FTW

Check out the EDHREC page for Daxos. It’s the data miner mother lode. There are a lot of obvious inclusions in the deck because the cards came bundled with Daxos, so for the time being, almost all Daxos lists online will contain Karmic Justice, Black Market. and Grasp of Fate. That’s not to say we can’t learn a lot from EDHREC even this early in the game. Really navigate the page just with your scroll bar for now.

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Hover over the numbers under the card and it will tell you what they are. I’ll also explain. The first number is straightforward: 94 percent of the decks in the database with Daxos the Returned as their commander run this card. Simple. The third number tells you the same information, but also how many decks there are total, which is useful to know. The middle number may be confusing—finance websites have trained us to see that as a trend number—maybe 50 percent more decks run Phyrexian Arena than last week because they all just busted one in a precon?

That number is actually called the “synergy rating.” Per the website: “How often this card is played in Daxos the Returned decks, vs. other black+white decks. A positive percentage means the card is played more often in comparison to other decks, negative percentage means it’s played less frequently than usual. A number near zero means it’s mostly likely a staple for those colors.”

This is great info, as it tells us whether a staple and shoo-in for a deck like Daxos the Returned is just good for the deck or is good for the colors. Cards with high percentages might not be the best investments, because they may be somewhat fringe-playable in the format as a whole. However, a high percentage means the popularity of the commander can be what drives the price, meaning the commander gaining popularity will be a factor in the price, especially when there is low supply, like on older cards. Daxos can’t drive Dictate of Erebos by itself, but maybe it can shove up a card like Heliod which has a 53-percent synergy rating and is a mythic that just rotated out of Standard. Heliod also spits out enchantments, which is perfect for a deck with Serra’s Sanctum.

EDHREC has a lot of useful features. You can see the cards used in the decks where Daxos is in the 99 rather than the Commander. You can see the decks where combinations of cards are used by clicking the advanced filter at the top next to recent decks.

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You can also get some help if you’re not too familiar with EDH by using the manabase crafter, which is a lot of help in identifying cards you might not know and which may be EDH staples you weren’t aware were cards you should pick, stock, or maybe speculate on. Not every card you see for the first time is a hidden gem, but you’re going to get a greater understanding of a format that can move prices profoundly and is not to be overlooked if you want to make money slinging cardboard.

Really peruse the site carefully. It’s chock full of features, and even if you don’t plan to ever sleeve the deck you “brew,” you are still going to want to know the most common cards in the deck. That’s what other people are using, which means they need them, which means they will need to buy them. The release of the five precons this month is a significant event for prices and that’s putting it mildly. Don’t miss being ahead of the curve.

Eating Pumpkins

I am going to cheat a little, because I already brewed my decklist so we can basically skip to the end if we want. That’s not to say I didn’t check both of the sites I mentioned when I brewed this deck, because I absolutely did that. I plan to build the deck, I plan to use some of the alternative methods for card acquisition I talked about in this piece, and ultimately, I have my eye on a few cards that I think could move based on what we learned on Tapped Out and EDHREC.

Are you going to build your own deck? Ezuri, Claw of Progress? Animar, Soul of Elements? Gisela, Blade of Goldnight? Whatever you decide to think about how to build, going through the motions of researching the deck is going to show you a lot of cards you should be paying attention to just as a matter of course. As far as theoretical exercises go, one that shows you a lot of data and leaves you with a decklist you could build if you wanted is pretty useful if you ask me. Until next time!

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