By: Jason Alt
Look, I’m not going to insult your intelligence by publishing an article the thrust of which is, “Hur, pay attention to stuff.” Well, I mean, I might do that, but I want to let you know up front that although that may end up being the thrust of this article, it’s not the only point I want to make. You probably understand you need to pay attention to stuff, so I hope I can tell you what and why without making you feel like a dummy.
There are lots of formats I don’t actually care about, and you probably don’t care about. Five-Color. Pauper. Type 4. Momir Vig with paper cards. But you can bet that if there were money to be made in those formats, I’d be advising you to read everything you could about them. And why not? This is about learning what we need to learn to start stacking that scrilla. Super high piles. You remember that pile of cocaine on Tony Montana’s desk in Scarface? That movie was awesome. What was I talking about? Right, scrilla. Specifically, where the scrilla resides.
Let Others Care For You
I keep getting more and more messages, tweets, emails, and LinkedIn link requests each week from people who tell me they love the financial information in this article, like they’re surprised. You actually don’t have to care about EDH to make money off of price movements or stocking your binder with just the right bait. It’s almost magical that way. There are already a ton of people who care about EDH, and they care a lot. Good!
Make no mistake, I’m one of the people who cares about EDH, but I promise you that even if I didn’t, I’d still leverage this community to stay ahead of price movements and stock up. The best way to leverage them is to see what they’re talking about. How to do that? Why not go where they hang out and talk EDH? Let’s talk about a few resources.
Tapped Out is a great, great site. It does a good job of policing the community by making it a difficult process to sign up for an account. Also, the EDH community may have a high nerd saturation, but it has a very low troll saturation, so an EDH-focused website is bound to be pretty troll-free. In fact, the people on Tapped Out are usually the opposite, going out of their way to help people focus.
Take a look at this post. The author created a decklist and it’s pretty decent. Scroll down and you will see helpful community contributors suggesting cards that should be in the deck. You are likely to see cards you didn’t know existed, and that’s okay. What you do when you see a card like that matters, though.
Someone on this page suggested the card Nomad Mythmaker for the deck. Click on the highlighted name to be taken to this page, where you get some info about the card, including its TCGplayer price data and the threads where the card is discussed. Mythmaker is almost exclusively discussed in the context of Bruna, the Light Alabaster and Uril, the Miststalker decks. That means the card is a bit narrow. Still, it’s old, underprinted, and is a very, very good card for this role. Tapped Out also has a very cool tab system that gives a lot of great info.
You can check the price on TCGplayer and Cardhoarder, see how many people are interested in the card (the ratio of haves to wants is telling) and there is a very ugly but useful price graph. Mythmaker doesn’t look like a great candidate for investment, but we’ve only looked at one card.
Look at this info. As many people as have Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger want him. His price is climbing steadily, he’ll be tough to reprint, and he just dodged a reprint in Modern Masters 2015.
Really explore the page for each card. There are combos for the card listed on the right side of the page, and you can click on the other cards in the combo to bring up their pages. This is a rabbit hole of cards you may or may not know that can teach you a lot about which cards in EDH are staples and which are narrow inclusions in specific decks. Tapped Out gives us a metric no other site gives us because we can look at the trade demand tab and see more people want the card or more people want rid of the card.
Compare Mythmaker to Vorinclex. You don’t need to learn all about EDH to be able to see that a popular format staple will have demand proportionate to or above supply rather than below (like in the case of Mythmaker). What do we expect that ratio to look like for a card like Mana Crypt? Can you guess?
3 have, 11 want. While this information is not exactly quantifiable, it’s a qualitative look at the cards EDH players are looking for and that’s not a terrible metric even though it’s a little loose. I wouldn’t rank cards based on this ratio or anything, but I would take notice of it. The higher the proportion of wants to haves, usually the more decks it goes in. Isn’t that what we’re looking for?
I don’t want to inundate you with a ton of new websites you may have never visited before, so I will cover a few more resources next week to give you a chance to play around with Tapped Out. Yes, I’m teaching you to fish. Deal with it.
One resource is one you’ve heard of and are probably avoiding like the plague: it’s Reddit. Okay. Yes, I know. Reddit is gross. A lot of the people on Reddit are on Reddit because if they went outside, an angry mob would chase them with torches and pitchforks, so they stay inside and poop on other people’s enthusiasm instead. I’m not saying Redditors all kill puppies when they’re adolescents, I’m just saying that I can’t watch all of them 24/7 and dogs go missing every day.
Once you choke back your initial revulsion, the EDH subreddit is actually a great resource. I know, right? If you’d have told me two years ago that I’d find most of the readers in the EDH subreddit delightful and helpful and wouldn’t like spending much time with the readers of the more competitive subreddits, I would likely have distracted you for long enough for the orderlies to come restrain you and take you to the facility where I was having you involuntarily committed. They probably wouldn’t lobotomize you even though I’d suggest it, because I’m not a doctor and they don’t really do that anymore, but they would at least strap you in for some time to think about that nutty thing you said. Well, belt me into a straight jacket and call me Napoleon Bonaparte, because I love r/EDH.
You know what they do periodically that I love? They do stuff like this and anyone who wants to can read it. No one even asks them to, they just get bored and say, “Hey, why don’t we make a list of cards that will be more expensive in a few months than they are right now?” because they are pathologically helpful that way.
Read through the page I just linked. Not every card is going to be a good investment, but that’s not the entire point. It will help familiarize you with a class of cards that have broad utility and perhaps identify niches that named cards fill but other cards also fill, perhaps better. /u/TCV2 couldn’t make his case for Library of Leng without discussing the more popular Reliquary Tower, which led to someone else bringing up Venser’s Journal. Hey, while we’re talking about VJ, did you know this?
More than two years of steady growth entirely predicated on EDH utility, but a very suspicious two-times multiplier in the foil price. That bears looking into. In a few seconds, we identified a foil card that has growth potential and will weather a reprint much better than the non-foil. Actually, that’s not even accurate. Someone else identified the card for us. I still get these shipped to me as bulk rares, by the way. This card is useful in a lot of decks and can be considered an EDH staple, but the foil hasn’t gotten the memo.
Novelty is king in r/EDH, however. A similar post earlier in the week, titled “EDH auto-include cards?” rubbed people the wrong way and it was under-posted-in. Still, there is decent advice in there, and I got to talk about how much I like Trading Post. If you have a problem with that, then I guess you don’t like Karn either, because Trading Post is practically a colorless planeswalker.
That’s a reminder: try to identify when someone is talking up a pet card versus when someone is identifying an actual format staple. Trading Post may be super sick in EDH, and its printing in the Commander 2014 deck series bears that out, but no one told the price of the foil copies of the card.
What’s a “Staple” Anyway?
Just like in any other format, a staple in EDH is a card that is played in multiple deck archetypes and is included in certain decks on principle. Sol Ring, Command Tower, Rhystic Study: these cards are obvious to everyone, even people who don’t care about the format at all. However, there are other staples of the format that are harder to identify and need to be rooted out a bit before they become clear.
If you ask a mono-black player to name the three most iconic and important “staple” cards in her deck, pretty much no matter which deck, she’s likely to say something like, “Probably Demonic Tutor, Sol Ring, and Mana Vault,” or a similar list. A card almost none of them is going to say but a lot of them are bound to include but not give a second thought to?
Look at that growth. That’s EDH doing its thing and doing it very well. A reprint can pull this card’s pants down, but the foil has a nice, healthy four-times multiplier. You know what’s even sexier than that? The spread on the foil.
It’s miniscule. This is behaving like an EDH staple, yet no one is going to identify this as an EDH staple even if you ask them to list staples. You’re going to have to go looking a little bit harder to root some of these cards out.
Luckily, I have given you a few tools to play around with until next week, and when I come back at you, I will hit you with a few more. I’m going to do my best to write that article before I head to Las Vegas, because I have a feeling I’ll be a bit distracted when I get there.
Between the data screaming at us at the top of its lungs the way some of these price graphs are screaming at us and EDH players politely listing the cards they think you should research, this can be easy at times. It’s not as easy as identifying good Standard investment candidates, but then if it were that easy, everyone else would be all over it. This takes a little digging, it takes some knowledge of the format, and it takes some finesse. Luckily, this series is going to tell you just about all I know about this and bring you all along for a ride on the money train. I’ll be back next week with some more sources for you to consider. You won’t want to miss it.
As always, leave me something in the comments section and let’s try to get ahead of the next one.