Category Archives: Jason Alt

You Sunk My Battleship

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I talk a lot about rising tides lifting boats, but we cannot ignore what has just happened. Commander 2015 is out, and while the new cards’ prices are obviously in flux, starting at arbitrary preorder numbers guessed at by individuals and stores like Star City Games (and not always good guesses as the $1 they wanted for Blade of Selves can attest) and being buffeted by the waves of supply and demand until the stormy seas  calm down and the prices find their equilibrium, wherever that may be.

It doesn’t do us a ton of good right now to even talk about new singles, because the most efficient way to get the cards is still to crack precons, something I recommend. It’s roughly $120ish to get a full set of the 5 decks, which is basically a buy-four-get-one-free deal at MSRP, and it’s worth it for all of the deckbuilding stock, if that’s what you’re into.

Forget Deckbuilding, Where’s the Money?

If you aren’t into that and are more interested in investing, I’m going to advise we stay away from new cards for a while. The one real good buy-in opportunity for preorder cards was the $1 Blade, and when I saw on Saturday that was its  price, I wrote my weekly article a few days early. By the time it was published Tuesday, a day earlier than normal, the price had quintupled. I think that ship has sailed, but there is opportunity to buy cheaply if we know where to look.

Remember how I keep harping on Wurmcoil Engine? There’s a very good reason for that. We can learn quite a bit from Wurmcoil Engine about the future of singles prices, and the past Commander sets are going to be an excellent guide. Let’s spend some time looking at the prices of cards that are down, but not down for the count.

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Can you tell when Commander 2014 was announced? That’s when prices started to really tail off. What’s interesting about this graph isn’t just that it recovered, but you can actually see the exact day the sets were released. Can you guess where November 7 is? That’s right.

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So the set came out and the price immediately stopped falling. Dealers lost confidence entirely, taking their buylist price lower and lower, but the retail price of Wurmcoil stopped declining. Now, this is likely due to people not buying any copies of old Wurmcoil because they can get a new one for $30 along with the Dualcaster Mage that Wizards was so confident would be the new Snapcaster that they made a judge foil out of it and a ton of other great cards. The red deck was stacked, and while speculators were all-in on the white deck to get Containment Priest and throw the other 99 cards in the trash, the red one was mostly bought by players because Daretti is a cheater of a commander.

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But even though people stopped buying the old Wurmcoil as much because they could get the new one, look at the price of the new one. This graph starts on November 12, a few short days after the set hit. Despite supply hitting a new high, demand hit a new high as well and an MSRP of $30 for the entire deck wasn’t enough to keep Wurmcoil under $20.

There are other cards like this that saw a reprint and whose prices rebounded nicely. Looking at a few older examples can help us pick out some cards that are going to tick back up, albeit slower than Wurmcoil (which is a bit of an anomaly but which also demonstrates the power EDH has to influence prices).

A Lesson in Tools

A useful thing to know how to do on MTGPrice is to search for cards by set. At the top of the main, non-blog page, there are a few tabs, one of which is “Browse sets” which brings up a page where the sets are listed chronologically with the newest set on top. You can sort the cards in each set by price and see which cards are surprisingly expensive.

When Commander first debuted, Scavenging Ooze was the slam-dunk of the set, retailing for around $50. Currently, twenty cards in Commander are more expensive than the now-heavily reprinted Scavenging Ooze (and good for Wizards for reprinting it so it could be played in Modern), and only twelve of those cards were new in that set. Eight reprints surged or maintained while Ooze plummeted. Of those eight reprints, three of them surged or were propped up by Modern. That leaves five cards with enough EDH playability to have made them good investments. Was there any money to be made buying at the right time? What time was that?

MTG Price’s data on Commander sets starts in 2013, but we can still learn a bit about how time has a way of making initial investments look good a few years down the road.

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While Wizards hasn’t reprinted this card since, it has taken some of the pressure off with cards like Dictate of Erebos and Butcher of Malakir, a card the company will never stop printing every three months. Buying  even two years after the set was released, you would have made money on Grave Pact, turning a $5 initial buy-in into an opportunity to sell at retail for $15.  Grave Pact is never not going to be good in EDH, but I invested in Dictate of Erebos instead—and barring a reprint, I’m looking forward to that card hitting the $5 mark before I sell my hundreds of copies all purchased at bulk rare price.

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Some of this growth could be due to Modern, but this is a planeswalker and it’s hard to keep an original-five planeswalker down. Despite ten different versions of the guy floating around out there, all are worth roughly the same $8 right now.  I like almost any non-Tibalt planeswalker at around $4, and Daretti’s price is making me salivate.

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It’s hard to keep a good Wrath down, and this may be the best EDH Wrath ever with modes that you can play around or be entirely unaffected by. The price is flat now, but you could have turned $4 into $10 just by recognizing this card was perhaps the best white Wrath effect in EDH. Not bad.

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And these don’t even give the creature hexproof!

Commander 2013 has a few attractive targets, but even this far back, we haven’t quite seen how things are going to play out for a lot of them. Commander 2013 was bought to such an extent that there are only three cards that retail for over $5 in the whole set, new cards and reprints combined.

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It seems like they’re printing new chase utility lands rather than reprinting, so we may be safe from Homeward Path reprints for a while, giving the price a chance to grow a bit. It’s demonstrated the ability to hit $6 and I think it can again and more. The card is very good, and while Commander 2013 pushed out way more copies than the original Commander set, Homeward Path is in the Naya deck, easily the worst-selling of the five. If it doesn’t get reprinted, this is likely an $8 to $10 card in two years. However, I’m not buying in too heavily at $4.

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Utility uncommons can turn into powder if they get reprinted, but Deceiver Exarch surged due to a Modern-predicated buyout. You could have gotten these for practically nothing for a whole year and a half and ridden the wave. Are there any good Modern cards hiding in other Commander sets? Yep! And a recent printing in Commander 2015 is going to crush their prices, giving you a very good buy-in opportunity. We’ll be on the lookout for cards that have a place in EDH but are also Modern staples. I can think of one in particular.

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This card is going to shrug off a lot of reprints. Will this ever settle under $5? I don’t think so. EDH players rarely take decks apart, so every time they build a new deck with green in it, they’re going to want another copy of this. Modern players rediscover this card every once in a while and buy them by the playset. Commander 2015 just reprinted it and threatens to smash the price a bit, but if we ever see the days of $3 Eternal Witness again, it’s a snap buy. Can this card see $7 again? I am actually fairly confident that it can. The reprint risk is high, but I think how far you buy below $6 is all guaranteed profit when it pops back up to its previous high.

Not all cards can shrug off repeated reprints, however. Some are starting to show signs of fatigue.

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Back-to-back reprintings in Commander 2014 and Commander 2015 have probably cooked this goose completely. It doesn’t help that Solemn was in Built from Scratch, the same deck as Wurmcoil Engine, meaning the deck needed no help from a card like Sad Robot to bring up the value.

I expect the Ezuri deck, where it’s reprinted this time, to be a little different. With a lot of the value spread over $5 cards, it’s a totally different situation. That could be enough to prop the value up a bit, but I don’t see potential. I imagine Solemn will be in Commander 2016, as well. I don’t think they need to do these every year, but the cards that are only appropriate to be reprinted in one of the decks, or not at all, stand to gain a lot from people building new decks. Remember, Commander doesn’t need to grow that much as a format, it just needs to not shrink—because every new deck is a new excuse to build a bunch of decks.

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It’s clear this wasn’t price growth as much as price correction. The blue Commander 2014 precon was garbage: hot, greasy garbage. The white precon got Containment Priest and the blue one got Dulcet Sirens. The price fell way too far predicated on the reprinting being the pin in its price’s balloon that would keep it from surging out of control. Here’s the problem: it’s in a terrible deck and the card is just too good. Any card that is too good for the bad deck it’s in could see a price correction like this saw. Rift isn’t done going up, either, and should settle a little below its pre-drop price of $6 to $7. If you bought these at $1, you’re feeling good right now, especially since the RTR versions never dipped below $2. Next week, I’ll be trying to find cards analogous to this and a few others from this piece.

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Did anyone not see this coming? Yet how aggressively was anyone really buying at $2? And why not? This is a stupid elf that makes other stupid elves. It’s perhaps the best elf lord ever printed. Did we not expect it to double in a year’s time and climb higher if it’s not printed again? There are insanely popular tribes out there and their staples shrug off reprints because it’s s fun to have multiple elf decks. My Ezuri elf deck and my Nath elf deck aren’t going to have the same color sleeves so I can switch a bunch of cards between them. I’m going to buy another Imperious Perfect because I’m not a poor. Everyone else will, too, and the increased supply is going to create increased demand.

What happens isn’t always easy to predict, though.

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Sometimes the card doesn’t correct like you expect it to. There are a few things going on here, and the first is that it was reprinted in another deck so that’s going to curb its price growth potential quite a bit. The second hiccup is that the new “tuck” rule means this card isn’t quite the “suck it, nerd, your commander is gone forever” card that it used to be. But what people lamenting the fact that you can’t short a card are forgetting is that this is still practically the only way to remove a troublesome permanent in mono-red, and mono-red is really fun in EDH sometimes. I mean, it’s the worst color and it isn’t mitigated by other colors, but you can still do some fun and annoying stuff and if you want your commander to be Daretti or Godo or Kiki-Jiki or whomever, you’re going to have to have a way to remove permanents that isn’t Nevinyrral’s Disk. This is that. I expected this to go up already, so I’m a little puzzled. The Commander 2014 version is a whole dollar cheaper, probably because Wurmcoil is picking up so much slack that the rest of the cards in that deck are practically chaff, which is odd because almost every card in the red deck is better than almost every card in the blue one. Sometimes it’s not a meritocracy out there, folks.

What’s Happening Next Time?

I am looking forward to coming back hard next week and giving you my picks for cards that are soon to reverse the dip they took after their reprintings.  There is opportunity—just look at how much money you could have made buying Cyclonic Rift, Austere Command, Exarch, or a few dozen other real “growers.” Fortunately, the growers aren’t always show-ers, and if we can root them out, we could have as much as a year to get the copies we want before the prices start to soar.

Check in with me next week and we’ll take a look at some of my picks. As always, leave it in the comments and let’s make some money.

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The Rising Tide’s First Wave

Readers,

You knew I was going to address the Commander 2015 spoilers. With a lot of spoilers condensed into a few weeks, I’m going to have to basically address every card I can each week, since there is a lot to go over in a short time.

I’m potentially going to mention cards I’ve mentioned before in previous articles, but unlike previous articles, which highlighted archetypes that could emerge, these predictions are predicated on actual spoiled cards and there’s likely to be a lot more pressure on the cards due to the impending printing of new stuff.

I am going to talk exclusively about the five legendary creatures spoiled today, because all of them have the potential to launch new archetypes or replace older cards within their particular archetypes, and I think they will have the most profound effect on prices. This will be less in-depth  than the other articles about these color combinations, but while those were speculative based on the abilities typically given to cards in those combinations, this is predicated on the actual, spoiled cards. There’s a lot to go over, so let’s get down to it.

Daxos the Returned

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Potentially the best card spoiled so far with experience counters, this guy can get out of control very quickly. I have talked about enchantment-based decks before, with creatures like Heliod at the helm, but this guy is perfect. Are there cards we’re going to want to jam in a deck with Daxos as the commander?

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This seems like a shoo-in. Before, I discussed how good this was with a commander like Heliod, and while that meant this was likely to experience some growth eventually, I think Daxos as a commander is going to put pressure on this card right away. Every time you make another enchantment creature with Daxos’s ability, this taps for more mana. That alone is stupid. Using a ton of mana to pump out more tokens means you get out of control quickly. Black and white are great colors for enchantments as it is, and Theros block gave us a ton of exciting permanents that are enchantments in addition to their other types. Spear of Heliod is a great way to give yourself an experience counter then buff the creatures you throw out with Daxos.

Serra’s Sanctum itself is just dumb. While it doesn’t get the love in Legacy that Gaea’s Cradle does, this is just as good in some EDH decks and everything that made Cradle seem like a solid investment applies here. This card is on the Reserved List, and unlike Gaea’s Cradle which had extra copies due to the premium printing, all we have are regular Sanctums. This is a $30 card that could easily hit $50 and is never going to be bad in EDH or get reprinted. This seems like a no-brainer to me. The odds of this being in the Commander 2015 precon are zero percent.

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This is just going to shrug off reprints for days. With five printings and a nearly $10 price tag, this is an EDH staple. This s a very, very good card and it is very good in a deck like Daxos. Drawing cards is never bad, losing a life isn’t too arduous in a 40-life format, and playing this to give yourself an experience counter feels great to me. I don’t think this will go down a ton for very long if it is in the Daxos deck because it’s so ubiquitous in EDH, the price is trending upward, and we could see the Wurmcoil effect we saw with the mono-red deck from last time repeated here. I would call the odds this is in the precon less than 25 percent, and I don’t even think the reprinting would be that bad. If it is reprinted and the price tanks, buy these at its price floor. It absolutely will recover.

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This is very expensive and is only getting expensiver. If you’re not inclined to shell out $15 for a card with growth this flat, just remember this is going to get a boost from people building around Daxos. If this isn’t in the deck, and I don’t think it will be, the price has upward pressure. A reprinting would be brutal, but I think it’s a less than 35-percent chance. I would buy any copies I want for personal use now before the price goes up with  65-percent confidence. There is no pressure to reprint this for Modern, and it’s pretty expensive to jam in the precon. A card that soaks up that much of the value should really make the deck win, and this doesn’t help the precon beat other precons. If you buy one for your deck, buy two and put one in a box.

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Also watch: Debtors’ Knell, Necropotence, Painful Quandary, Humility, Black Market, Land Tax.

Mizzix of the Izmagnus

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This card is basically what I imagined it would be, although it has an interesting caveat that I hadn’t anticipated. I knew just straight, “When you cast an instant or sorcery, get an experience counter,” would be too good and they got around that nicely by forcing you to play bigger and bigger spells to keep getting the cost reduction. Luckily, there are some great spells for that in Izzet.

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At $1.50 in foil, this is great in the deck but not super relevant financially. Still, I like how this plays with the new commander. You won’t lose money if it’s reprinted in the deck, and if you buy the foils you won’t gain a ton of money necessarily, either. Dealers aren’t super jazzed about this card—yet.

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At $9.50, this foil has upside from new decks and no downside from a potential reprinting. I don’t like the non-foils at $1.50 due to reprint risk and limited upside.

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This foil is pretty saucy under $3 also. There is real upside here and it won’t be reprinted in foil.

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This guy is to Storm as Animar is to morph decks and Mind’s Desire is going to get bugnutty. At $12.50, the foils are a bit pricey and the non-foils at $1 suffer from a lack of upside and a somewhat decent reprint risk, but this card is going to go in a lot of the new Mizzix decks. Is Mizzix better than Melek is for storm? Hard to say. But X spells in general are going to be insane.

Also watch: Inexorable Tide, Blue Sun’s Zenith, Flash of Insight, Omniscience, Contagion Engine, Prosperity.

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest

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It seems unlikely that the Golgari card that gives you experience counters will be better than this, but you never know. What I do know is that this card is stupid, especially with creatures that have persist plus sacrifice outlets. Two persist creatures and a sac outlet gets dumb, quickly. This card is dumb.

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You might want to build a Ghave deck just so you can put Mazirek in it and start cheating at Magic.

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Modern Masters made this card stop being $15. Mazirek could make it $15 again, but not this year. Still, this isn’t a $4 card anymore.

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Prossh and the printing of Dictate of Erebos brought this staple down from its all-time high of $14, but it could get up there again.

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This personal Fecundity is pretty good, but I don’t think it is at its bottom yet, nor do I think the non-foil can be pushed much.

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This personal Fecundity is a $6 foil and I think this deck gives it upside, and the fact that it’s uncommon means the non-foil is irrelevant.

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Skullbriar could get some upside as a deck as well as Ghave. Mazirek will be a fine commander but it can also bolster some older decks people may have forgotten about.

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Greater Good is unlikely to be in the deck, but a sacrifice outlet is essential, and this is one of the best ones you can buy. This price has been flat for a while, but it has demonstrated the ability to be more than it is now. Renewed interest in sacrificing things will shine a new light on this.

Watch also: Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, Dictate of Erebos, Miren, the Moaning Well.

Kaseto, Orochi Archmage

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I’m not super jazzed about this, as Ezuri is much better, but since this is in the deck, we’re likely to see snakes happen, so let’s look at any snakes that get better with this guy at the helm since EDH players love to build tribal.

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The Duel Deck printing pulled this card’s pants down. I’m not sure I think the upside from the potential snake tribal deck makes me want to pay $12.50 for the foil, but the risk of reprint there is lower. This is a snake I want to make unblockable or leave on defense with the ability to pump up at will.

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This is under $3 in foil and is absolutely going places. The non-foil could be in the deck but I like the foils.

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This card was going places already. You’re not buying in at the floor, but with a combination of new landfall cards and this card’s inherent unfairness with fetch lands, a new crop of which is in the hands of players and a new cycle of which is legal in Modern, this particular snake is gas.

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At under $3 in foil and close to bulk for a mythic, I don’t leave a single one of these in a binder if I can avoid it. This is a snake that makes smaller snakes. Seems fine.

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This gets a lot better when your commander can make it unblockable, and it’s cheap even in foil. If snake tribal is a thing, this is in the deck.

Also watch: Nature’s Will, Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant, Coat of Arms.

Ezuri, Claw of Progress

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Wow. I was hoping the Simic experience counter guy wouldn’t suck and this doesn’t. At all. It’s irresponsibly good. This makes too many cards good to even list.

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Can you get to five experience counters on Ezuri? What if you’re proliferating? I’d guess $5 for a foil Sage of Hours is going to seem very reasonable in a week.

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Hnnnnnnng. This is a bit of a nonbo if you’re trying to put more counters on your commander, but just be good at Magic and don’t sequence your cards terribly, and all of a sudden you can start dumping counters on Biomancer every turn and every creature you play is nuts.

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How good is this with Ezuri? Ugh. So good, that’s how.

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Yo, dawg, I hear you like triggers, so I made your triggers trigger your triggers. Imagine all the experience counters you will get playing this then something like Coiling Oracle. This is stupid. It’s stupid how much better Ezuri is than every other card they’ve spoiled.

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This is cheating. This is just absolute cheating. Mycoloth shrugged off a reprint and is headed for the stratosphere as it is and I can’t imagine a ridiculous commander like Ezuri doesn’t put a ton of upward pressure on this already decent price. This card is insane with Ezuri. I’m brewing a deck just by making a list of insane cards.

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I don’t know how much money you make buying this promo at $1, I just wanted to point out how insane this card is in an Ezuri deck. Jesus.

Also watch: Every hydra, Gilder Bairn, Doubling Season, Hardened Scales, Primal Vigor, Intruder AlarmCloudstone Curio, Inexorable Tide, Contagion Engine, Thrummingbird, basically every Simic card.

Why doesn’t this card say “non-token” so you can’t get 100 experience counters with a single Avenger of Zendikar? Why?

We’re seeing some pretty good cards and there are a lot of older cards identified here that I’m very confident about the upside on. A lot of decks are about to be built, and the cards in those decks that didn’t get reprinted have a lot of upside in their futures. Look what Nekusar did to wheel effects to see what kind of upside we’re talking about for the best cards in these decks. EDH is a serious price driver, and we’re about to see a lot of building going on.

I’m not super happy about getting EDH sealed product every year since it feels like too much to keep up with, but as long as I write for MTGPrice, I’m going to be on top of it and do the analysis so you don’t have to.

We’re going to get some new spoilers as the days go on, so check out MTGPrice for coverage and my weekly article series. Until next week!

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The Boros Karloff Halloween Special

Screw boat puns.

This could have been a series where each individual article was a separate, autonomous entity, referable to the whole by way of hyperlinks but also each its own standalone concept piece. “Up your butt with that,” I said, “I want to put a bunch of stupid puns in the title so everyone knows the pieces relate to my overall series where I talk about how a rising tide will lift all boats.”

I don’t live my life by your rules, man. I don’t do what’s “popular” or “convenient” or what “makes sense.” I march to the tune of my own disc jockey, and I’m about to get all Skrillex up in this bitch with part five of a five-part series that the longer it goes on I’ve gotten less and less enthusiastic about relating to the rest of the articles I write about EDH finance . Have you hung in there the whole time? Did you read the other four parts? I feel like they were instructive and (I think) entertaining and worth reading. Feel free to catch up real fast or you’re going to wonder why I keep talking about Wurmcoil Engine.

Part 1 – Orzhoz

Part 2 – Golgari

Part 3 – Simic

Part 4 – Izzet

Here we are, folks. We’re at part five of five. The money shot. La fin du chemin. The culmination of my hard work and your even harder work tolerating my flippant writing style, heavy-handed metaphors, verbosity, and insistence I know the future. Don’t pretend you didn’t love every second of it, nerds. Will I do any better a job predicting what’s bound to happen this time around? I think I might. After all, we have four weeks’ experience writing this series, and we have a secret weapon. We have a spoiler.

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What does this tell us? Well, it tells us a lot. We used the fact that the rest of the decks would likely (and not even definitely!) get experience counter shenanigans to write some of the articles, do you think I won’t predicate a great deal of my predictions this time around on the fact that we know a card the deck will be built around? Don’t count on it. This is happening. First, let’s ignore this card to the extent that we should look at the trusty Magic wiki article we have thus far used to look at the unique color-pie attributes of the various enemy-color combinations.

Combat

What does that even mean?

Combat? Boros specializes in combat? Okay, well, I guess I could see that. We have cards like Insurrection and Master Warcraft. Cards like Ghostway and Legion’s Initiative, cards like Assault Strobe and Righteousness. This lame, generic descriptor becomes even less silly when you think about the fact that Boros’s new flagship commander is basically a big, dumb combat animal. We want him to attack and block, and he does both. Play big, dumb creatures to help him out and he gets even bigger, combating even more better. Sorry, I’m just so thrown by the no-help description of “combat” that I’m lapsing from typing like I’m Boros into typing like I’m Gruul.  “Gruul do smash good, so am Boros. Boros am Gruul smash friend. Trump 2016.”

What can we see being included that’s worth actual money and could help with… err… combat? I mentioned Master Warcraft, and while it’s my favorite Boros card for EDH that no one sees coming, it’s also a quarter right now, so it’s not worth caring about. Either it goes up to 50 cents over the next decade or it stays true bulk with a reprint. I feel the same way about Boros Battleshaper, a bulk rare that’s a shoo-in in the deck if I’m on the design team, as it triggers your commander and confuses combat. It’s the perfect card for this deck. It’s also a bulk rare. What can we actually make money from?

Remember EDHREC? This time, I looked at the cards used in a Narset deck for cards that could help us in combat, since Narset is doing that very well right now. Here’s what I found.

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This seems like a pretty good Wurmcoil candidate. Is it too unfair to be able to serve with a 6/6 double-striker ad nauseum or is this what EDH was designed for? This card is expensive because Narset is such a good Commander and a reprint could erase some feelbads. Other variants are possible as well.

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Look how Boros-y this card is. It’s even both colors. I wouldn’t hate this $6 monster getting its wings clipped a bit.

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Could this Narset-benefactor see a reprint or will its keyword ability be too confusing for an EDH crowd, keeping it out of the deck? Relentless Assault is easier to grok and has also been printed 133 times, making it not financially-relevant. I feel like Savage Beating is in the same category—does it get a reprint for flavor or does it get a miss because of the keyword ability? I feel like there will be exactly one card in this vein in the deck, and if you’re holding one that’s more than $3, it may be time to dump and pick up later, or replace with the cheaper version printed in the deck that you subsidized the purchase of by dumping Aggravated Assault at its current peak. Then again, if it isn’t reprinted, the Boros commander likely gives the card upside, meaning $11 isn’t the immediate ceiling. If you have sellers you trust to ship and quick reflexes, try to arbitrage a few bucks here at low risk, but I’m not doing any of that noise.

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Again, while there isn’t much precedent for a reprint like this, we did see Planechase‘s Baleful Strix in a subsequent Commander deck. This card doesn’t only trigger the commander, it also rules combat. I don’t know how likely this reprint is, especially with a keyword ability seen in only one other set, but I’m mentioning it because all of the other Boros creatures that deal with combat, like Angelic Arbiter and Blazing Archon, are dirt cheap. Even Silent Arbiter got a pansting in the same set that gave us Scourge of the Throne. So much Boros stuff dealing with combat is dirt cheap. Are we getting Orim’s Chant? Doubtful. Are we getting Master Warcraft? I’d bet money on it.

Weenies

Ugh. I realize Boros is very good at this, but the deck’s commander is almost set up as the exact opposite of how a weenie strategy wants to work. You don’t want to play weenies and Jor Kadeen and go wide, you want to play Gisela and Steel Hellkite to buff your general and go Voltron. I could talk about weenies stuff here, but we know that almost certainly makes no sense. The deck will be big, fat creatures for the most part, some buffs to make combat tricky, and maybe some equipment and auras.

Cards More Likely Than Weenies

I think it’s worth talking about cards I expect in the deck rather than stuff like Assemble the Legion and Shrine of Loyal Legions which, while good, don’t jive with the commander at all.

First up, let’s discuss some possible angels, since Wizards had a lot of chances to reprint angels recently and surprised people with some of the choices made.

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This card wasn’t reprinted in FTV Angels, and many think that was an oversight. While Aurelia would have been a fine inclusion in FTV Angels, this could be a chance for a reprint in the Wurmcoil slot to redeem Wizards for ignoring this card and its two angel sisters. Then again, is Wizards likely to print a card from a pseudo-cycle by itself? Exclusion from FTV Angels didn’t affect this card’s price, and with no pressure on it, you don’t stand to gain anything if it’s not reprinted, so a reprint is all downside if you’re holding. Is this too good with a double striker? Maybe.

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Based on the need to reprint Elesh Norn and the inclusion of a cycle of dragons in Modern Masters 2013, I predicted the praetors cycle would be in Modern Masters 2015. I was one-fifth correct with that prediction, which sucked, but it was based on sound logic and I feel good about the thought process. This card interacts well with the commander and isn’t as unfair as a card like Vorinclex, so it might be a good inclusion.

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This guy would be a good card in the Wurmcoil slot, along with maybe a card like Steelshaper’s Gift. This card isn’t as good in EDH as it is in Legacy, although equipping Batterskull to your commander, even with no experience counters, is likely very hard to stop for the other decks. I thought about Sword of War and Peace, but why include one sword and not the corresponding one in each deck? That makes no sense outside of Boros with no way to tutor in other colors. Would this have been too much in last year’s mono-white deck that also had Containment Priest, and does it make more sense, now? Sunforger was just reprinted, Jitte isn’t getting reprinted, Swords are a cycle and tough to reprint. This might make the deck ridiculous, but I don’t think that the Boros deck is getting a Legacy-caliber card.

Follow my logic here: last time, the two Legacy-tier cards were Containment Priest (slam dunk) and Dualcaster Mage (swing and a miss). Since there isn’t much good stuff to reprint in the Izzet deck, I expect the Izzet one to get a Legacy-caliber new card. I doubt all five decks will be equally stacked, since there is no precedent for that, so one or two other decks are likely to get a good, new card. I doubt both decks with red in them would get the Legacy card, so Izzet’s likelihood, in my mind,  diminishes Boros’s chances.

If we’re not trying to find a Wurmcoil-tier card,  we may be able to build a decent amount of value to make the deck attractive by getting there piecemeal.

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Here’s an equipment that’s more reasonable than Batterskull (a card I don’t think Wizards would jam in the Boros deck, necessarily) and could be cheaper and more plentiful than it is now for the good of the format.

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The “against” column includes the awkwardness of either printing half of a cycle or a tenth of it and its previous reprinting in Planechase. The “for” column mostly consists of “triggers commander” and “wouldn’t it be great?” I feel this could go either way.

But How About That Wurmcoil Candidate?

There are a lot of cards I didn’t even mention because they’re too inexpensive to matter, even though they’re super likely reprints (Boros Battleshaper, Foundry Champion, Angelic Skirmisher, Master Warcraft, Agrus Kos).

There were a lot of cards I didn’t mention because their mana costs made them awkward with the commander (Angel of Jubilation, Serra Ascendant [this card is also one that Wizards doesn’t like to acknowledge is only good because of EDH’s rules], Firemane Avenger, Grand Abolisher, Hero of Bladehold, Iroas, God of Victory).

Will there be a Wurmcoil-tier card in this mess? It’s possible. I can make a few guesses, though I don’t have a ton of confidence in any of them.

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This could go in any deck and should get reprinted eventually, but last set would have been better than this one, so I don’t really think it’s all that likely.

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I’m actually reasonably confident about this one.

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This actually does work in the deck, and since you’ve already lost 75 percent of your money if you bought at its peak, why not lose some more?

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Who doesn’t want discount fatties? This is on my EDH reprint wishlist, and it’s a bit flat for now, but I feel like it could go up soon. Not being on the Reserved List like its powerhouse counterparts like Covetous Dragon and Carnival Of Souls, this card is a serious tribal workhorse and could stand to be dusted off.

Final Thoughts

That basically concludes this series. While I’m not expecting all or even most of these fantasies to come true, I think it’s important to think about how the future will pan out as far as Commander 2015 is concerned. This is a good chance to give us new cards, reprint some old favorites, and get people playing EDH. We have had one or two decks fly off of the shelves every time, leaving the other decks to sell out more slowly. As spoilers come in, we may be able to figure out which one that may be this year, but I feel like each deck will have merit this time, and I plan to buy a personal copy of all five like always to tear into them and start building.

Feel free to point out anything I missed or argue for something I did include in the comments section. While I’m sad to be concluding this miniseries, I am looking forward to using next week to start brewing with spoiled cards and figuring out what could be on the rise in the future. Until then!

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The Title Isn’t Important, Izzet?

It’s getting increasingly difficult, but I still feel like it’s necessary to preface these articles by letting you all know that you’ve stumbled midway into an ongoing series. Most of you know that, I’m sure, but wouldn’t I be remiss if I didn’t do this? I might not, I don’t actually know.

The point is, this is happening and you’re just going to have to sit there and take it. Part one was Orzhov and I introduced the series and its goals. Read it if you’re not sure why I keep talking about Wurmcoil Engine. Part two was Golgari, and while a few readers and I differ on whether we think Abrupt Decay is a likely reprint, we can agree that Eternal Witness will be in the deck because it’s already spoiled.  Part three was Simic, and while I love to play Simic decks, I acknowledge that the only two types of cards Simic gets are 1) cards you don’t want to play because they suck and 2) cards you don’t want to play because everyone wants to murder you in the face.

And Then There Was Blue-Red

Izzet is a bit of a different animal altogether. Izzet does a lot of things well, but it’s hard to know how the commander will be designed and built around. First, we should talk about the commander in case you didn’t catch the update to the spoiler I wrote. We have a card besides Eternal Witness spoiled, after all.

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Will every commander give experience counters? It’s hard to say. In the Simic article, as well as an older Simic article linked in that Simic article because I love my shotcalls nested like Matryoshka dolls, I said I liked Contagion Engine as a pickup. So did a lot of people, it would seem. Since the foil won’t be reprinted in one of these decks, the foil went insane. Previously a $5 card, foil Contagion Engines are up to $90 on TCGplayer and moving it would seem. Who’s paying more than $25 for a Foil Contagion Engine? Not me. Let things calm down and hold off on the foil until it comes back to reality. I wouldn’t touch the non-foil, since Golgari could run it to give -1/-1 counters and kill creatures and Simic could run it just for removal of any kind on top of a counter proliferation theme. Heck, any of the decks could conceivably have the Engine to proliferate experience counters. I’m not bullish like I was given the feeding frenzy, and if you got your copies weeks ago when I suggested it, sell into the hype most assuredly.

With that out of the way, let’s talk a bit about what Izzet is used to doing well and try and see if we can’t puzzle out what’s in store in the blue-red Commander 2015 deck.

Instants and Sorceries

There aren’t a ton of rare cards that aren’t total bulk rares that fit with this theme. There’s not a ton to really discuss here, but let’s rule a few things out.

First of all, Snapcaster Mage would be a nice pipe dream and would certainly make the deck sell, but there’s not much chance of it getting reprinted in a Commander 2015 deck. I only mention it because while there was like a five-percent chance before, that has slid closer to zero percent with this announcement:

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We are getting a (small) number of Snapcaster Mages into the hands of players, but with such a limited printing, it’s hard to imagine this will affect the price one iota, and it may even backfire by pushing the price up, since a reprinting makes it less likely another reprinting method will go into effect any time soon.

One card I could see would nip its price in the bud.

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This seems like a reasonable card to print in the deck. It would bring the price down, would fit well with an instants and sorceries theme, and it does some of what Snapcaster does but not as well, meaning it is a good power level for a preconstructed deck. Dualcaster Mage was a very poor attempt at a card like this, and Abbot is playable in more formats, giving its price a little more upside.

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Despite a few obvious “buy this promo out on TCGplayer because there are seven copies listed and post mine at $100 to see what happens” attempts, this card could be a $10 promo someday. A reprint in the deck wouldn’t do much to the foil, and a few cards to build around it could make this deck choice more popular. I don’t expect this to be a commander, but I could see it in the 99, since Wizards tends to put a few other cards that could be a commander inside each deck. This is certainly on-theme with instants and sorceries.

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This is another card that could be a commander and could be wedged into the 99 if it’s sufficiently on-theme for how the deck is built. This is a bit of a complete build-around, but it rewards you for playing a lot of spells, and at instant speed to boot. I looked at a few Tibor and Lumia decklists to see if there were any slick cards to consider in them commonly.

If you’re not using EDHrec as a resource because you’re not interested in building EDH decks, you’re missing out on one of the best resources possible for an EDH financier. There is so much data here it’s breathtaking. Sure a given card could be good in a particular deck, but how many people are playing that card?

Here’s the data for Tibor and Lumia, and it’s worth analyzing along with me. There are quite a few goodies in here, and while I don’t expect a card like Basilisk Collar in a deck where Tibor and Lumia are not the commander, or even in one where they are, it’s one card that needs a reprint or it will continue to grow. Basilisk Collar is a very useful card in all kinds of decks and while more mana-intensive alternatives like Gorgon’s Flail and Quietus Spike exist, they’re not quite the same (though I would argue I prefer Quietus Spike in a lot of decks, especially if you plan to do any attacking).

All in all, there aren’t too terribly many cards that would be good candidates for the “Wurmcoil” slot built around the theme of instants and sorceries. Cards like Arcane Melee are shoo-in bulk rares, but so what? If this is the deck’s theme or one of them, expect a lot of the value to be tied up in a new card—and realize that Legacy could be significantly shaken up by this card, potentially.

The other Izzet-specific ability the wiki article references is “looting,” which is barely worth mentioning. Jace isn’t likely in here and that’s basically the only valuable looter, unless I’m missing something (which I’m almost certain to be).

The only other thing I could see blue and red teaming up to do could have to do with artifacts, and there isn’t much there, either.

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Hi guys! Reprint me!

Without a ton to go on, I think I will use the rest of my word count to talk about good blue and red cards that could fit the theme of some of the things these colors both do well separately, and cards that need a second look before the lists are spoiled.

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Cube has made this a $400 foil and made the non-foil worth having and Conspiracy packs well worth cracking. I was lucky this summer to be in Las Vegas for the Grand Prix and be the beneficiary of a lot of players dusting off boxes of Conspiracy and running drafts. Some drafts I paid into, some I drafted for free and gave back the cards, and all of them I had a blast.

Fayden’s future is pretty uncertain given how tricky he would be to reprint without making him legal in Standard, and while this deck would be a good venue, it doesn’t seem super likely unless every deck is getting a non-commander planeswalker. Kiora, Dack Fayden, Ajani Vengeant, Vraska, and Sorin? It’s possible, but not super likely. Besides, Dack Fayden is only one possibility, and Ral Zarek is quite another and might be a better fit for the deck.

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A lack of urgency on this price makes a reprinting not super likely and bound to be a little bit confusing. I don’t think Dack is a good inclusion and I don’t think Ral Zarek, while more reasonable on the basis of price, is a good fit, either. All in all, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a planeswalker.

While we’re spitballing, what would a new blue-red commander look like? If I had to guess, I would say you get an experience counter for casting three or more spells in a single turn and then for every experience counter you have, your spells cost one colorless mana less to cast. That’s boring, but Izzet tends to be a bit one-dimensional. Popular Commanders in Izzet are Nin, the Pain Artist, Melek, Izzet Paragon, and Tibor and Lumia, or not building Izzet decks when you can just add black and play Nekusar or something.

A lot of people seem to be clamoring for something artifact-related, since blue and red are the two biggest colors for artifacts and there hasn’t been a good artifact commander in those colors. Conceivably, you could accumulate experience counters by casting an artifact that costs five or more and then get a reduction on the casting cost of artifacts, but that seems a little boring, also. I personally would like a commander that got an experience counter if you cast a certain number of instants or sorceries then let you scry every one of your upkeeps equal to the number of experience counters you have, but that seems a little unlikely.

There just isn’t a lot to go on, here. Izzet is a tough color and almost always has help, so this will either be the weakest deck or it will be a cool, synergistic deck with a lot of clutch spells and bulk rares like Arcane Melee and Jace’s Sanctum that will make up the value of the deck with an expensive card sure to impact Legacy.

As far as a few cards I could see occupying the Wurmcoil slot, I don’t actually see any. I feel like the value will be in a new card, so instead, I want to talk about cheaper cards that nonetheless could use a reprinting and would be decent inclusions.

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A year ago, this would have been a totally reasonable inclusion. Could Wizards have slotted this in a long time ago, watched the price grow with trepidation, and thought “Welp, this is going to sell a shitload of copies”? Maybe, but I tend to doubt it. Should this be included in the deck, it would be a weird deck, indeed. Instead, I think there is a card in the same vein that’s more likely in the deck, though an alternative to it exists.

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Huh? Maybe?

It feels like I am grasping at straws. Izzet decks are very cheap to build on the whole, so even if I correctly guess the deck will contain Cloven Casting, so what? A bulk rare stayed a bulk rare and no one made money. The problem with Izzet is that Wizards will either have to reprint a very expensive card to justify the cost of the deck or will have to put something in that’s way off-theme. Some off-theme cards I’d like to see reprinted could be interesting.

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Given the proper outlet, the mana from this card can be a huge advantage. This is a $10 card from a terrible set, will be very hard to reprint in most products given its unique keyword ability, and it does something that’s unfair given the removal of the mana burn rule. This reminds me a lot of Black Market, and I’d like to see both cards reprinted.

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While a lot of the abilities on red and blue creatures are triggered (think Gelectrode or Guttersnipe) or simple tap abilities (Goblin Welder or also Gelectrode), some of them, like Nin, the Pain, Artist could benefit from a reduction in cost.

Izzet Difficult?

This was a frustrating article for me. While I encountered a few cards in the $7 to $12 range, all of them were even easier to rule out than the cards in this article, which all have a pretty tenuous rationale for their inclusion. Imagine which cards I cut!

I really feel like the Wizards team has their work cut out for them with this deck. Could Keranos be included, and would that force them to reprint half of the gods and not the other half? Could Scroll Rack or Omniscience or another ridiculous card be included rather than hoping a Legacy game-changer can take up the value? Why aren’t there any good creatures in Izzet decks?

The alternative explanation is that Izzet is a huge blind spot for me, and I missed something huge, significant, and obvious. I’ll admit to doing twice as much online research as other weeks and feeling like I have half the advice. I don’t know what to do beyond say, “Hey, I imagine a big new card in this deck,” because good Izzet decks are built with cantrips, cost-reducers, and spell-doublers, and all of those cards are super cheap. A commander that does all three will certainly be popular, and a card on Snapcaster Mage’s power level in Legacy will certainly move product. With the popularity of Commander, there is less pressure on Wizards to do this, but I think in order to justify MSRP on an Izzet deck, they’ll need to do something drastic. What will it be? My money’s on a new card rather than a reprinting of something above $15.

In case I did miss something obvious, school me in the comments. Which existing cards do you want to see in an Izzet deck? What did I miss? What would you like to see printed new? How could Izzet use experience counters? Leave it in the comments section. We’ll polish off Boros next week and hopefully be forewarned as spoilers trickle in.

As always, I will be handling spoiler coverage, and with my EDH experience, you can be sure you’ll get analysis from someone who cares about the format. Until next week!

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