Category Archives: ProTrader

Pro Trader: Prescience

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Readers!

My last few articles have dealt with things I miss and while it’s good to gut-check yourself every once in awhile, it’s also good not to dwell on limitations of a method that, in my view, is limited because I deliberately narrowed my scope. But in discussing the limitations of the method, it’s also important to demonstrate its efficacy. This is the money shot, folks. Weeks like this are the reason I ignore what’s happening at the PT, ignore the interests scroll on Echo, don’t watch people stream new decks and apparently don’t even know what’s going on in competitive EDH circles. We have a premise that, if true, should lead us to be able to make a ton of good, solid pickups. If the premise is wrong, I maintain the pickups will still rise just because they are rooted in real demand and their rise is predicated on sudden, additional demand. No one likes their specs to end up in their “long-term growth box” for sure, but if speculation were entirely without risk, everyone would be doing it.

This article is going to highlight pickups that are a little more risky than the typical “safe” stuff I have highlighted over the past few weeks on the basis of Teysa and Nikya, but I am also thinking a month ahead as opposed to a week or two and we’re going on the basis of cards that aren’t revealed, yet. So what can we plan on knowing what we know about the next set? Let’s dig in and find out.

The Next Set

The next set is called “War of the Spark” and it’s all about Planeswalker sparks, presumably. Did you watch that video they made?

The video opens with stained glass windows depicting dozens of Magic’s planeswalkers. It zooms in on Gideon’s window exploding.

That will buff right out…

You zoom through Gideon into a room with a giant candelabra with dozens of lit candles on it. Then, one by one, the candles gutter and go out until there’s only one left.

One candle left. Is it one walker left after some big bad kills all of them? Does every walker lose their spark? Does Bolas kill all of them? Is Bolas even involved in this set?

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I mean, there aren’t too many ways to interpret the twin tendrils of smoke that swirl toward the top of the screen as the video fades to black. Those are Bolas’ horns.

So how do we interpret this? I don’t know. I’m inclined to say this seems to indicate there won’t be a ton of Planeswalkers given the one candle. Does everyone lose their spark? I’m not enough of a Vorthos carer-abouter to know the implications but I think if we predicate some picks on there being a lot of walkers in the set, we are making assumptions others are going to make as well and if we buy the same cards now they’ll buy later, we should have some greater fool action in our favor making it harder to lose with hedged bets.

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Pro Trader: Identifying Blind Spots

Readers! 

I don’t have to do another article where I talk about how great I am at this because we can learn a lot from our failures, sometimes moreso than from our successes and while I don’t care about missing stuff per se as long as there are plenty of hits out there to identify, we don’t want to miss anyone who would have wanted to buy those cards for themselves. 

So while I didn’t really initially see cards I ignored as cards I was missing, I think it’s important to identify our blind spots and take a look at how we can avoid missing those cards in the future. I’m specifically talking about expensive foils that have spiked as a result of very competitive decks like Vannifar and how we can make sure we correctly identify future Vannifars and identify which classes of cards from those decks to buy specifically. 

So what went wrong with Vannifar, first of all?

Who Was Into It?

At first, it seemed like Vannifar was a very exciting, if not obvious commander. My twitter feed is full of both EDH and finance people and every finance person was talking about Intruder Alarm and Thornbite Staff and every EDH person was talking about Teysa. EDHREC data back up my assertion that the EDH community as a whole just wasn’t that excited by Vannifar. I was pretty secure in my assessment that it was going to be really tough to sell non-obvious cards to non-speculators, and it was a very specific buyout that made me realize something different was going on here. So what went wrong? My assessment was that Vannifar was a boring, obvious, linear deck with a pretty unsatisfying pod chain, and the general EDH community’s apparent rejection of Vannifar in favor of Teysa (and even Nikya) seemed to bear that out. EDH players, in general, don’t want boring, linear obvious decks and you need to sell a lot of copies of recent cards to move prices. I forgot to consider one thing I knew, and by the time I saw the card that had spiked and realized what it meant, it was basically too late.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Speculating on Speculation

Nerds,

I was going to take a look at Jodah or something today and while that’s probably relevant at some point, I think there’s something else that is pretty important and it’s never too early to talk about it. I saw something curious and maybe I’m reading too much into it, but probably not. I mean, maybe. Maybe not. Not probably not, I don’t know the actual probability. That’s a good point, actually. Let’s address that point before I move on.

Have you even made a point yet?

Yes, I sure have. I said I don’t know the probability that I’m right or wrong about this thing I’m speculating about that I’ll tell you about later. We never really know the odds but since I know less than nothing; we’re talking our unknowns are unknown, I’m going to try and make my picks with some caveats, namely that I’m not going to diverge too far from my current speculation ethos for this column.

Currently I am using data, albeit small amounts sometimes, to make very safe picks based on what I know the near future to be. EDH allows us to do that with the lag time between online decklist adoption and actual paper decklist adoption. I’m not going to stray too far from that. While I’m forced to speculate about speculation, I am going to try and confine my picks to ones that won’t leave you holding the bag later if one or more of our assumptions turns out faulty. I sold a lot more copies of Squandered Resources than I did Didgeridoo. Didgeridid? Whatever. The point is, if I make a pick that wasn’t going to go up anyway, albeit probably slower, I’ll make a note that you’re assuming risk and should only do so if you can afford to lose the money and agree with all of our dumb assumptions.

Isn’t it funny that I’m like 4 years into writing this column and I’m only now telling you to only spec with money you can afford to lose? That’s how good EDH finance is, I never assume we won’t get there. Even our misses are just longer-term hits, baby! Bet it all on black!

OK, that out of the way, let’s talk about the assumptions we’re making. First, the piece of news upon which our assumptions are predicated.

The News

Someone in the EDHREC writers Slack channel alerted me to this press release. No, that wasn’t intended as a name drop. It’s an exclusive Slack channel, but not in that good a way. It’s exclusive like the club of people who turned themselves blue drinking colloidal silver is exclusive – yeah, you’re not in the group but that’s fine, trust me.  Let’s examine the thing.

Enhance

Enhance

Too far

Awww yisss. If this is what I think it is, it’s another Commander precon series with Planeswalkers at the helm. That’s assumption numero the first.

My next assumption is that planeswalkers will be legal as commanders from now on. It’s possible that it’s just all of us wanting it that makes us think it’s so but I said I wouldn’t hose you by making picks that won’t pan out if this assumption is wrong so let’s pretend we already know it’s true and save ourselves some equivocating.

 

When Do We Make Some Money?

I thought I’d never pretend you asked. Let’s do that now, shall we?

Our main assumptions, restated are

  1. Commander 2018 will have Planeswalkers as the commanders.
  2. Any Planeswalker will be a legal commander starting in late 2018.

From that, I can make a few sub-assumptions that can help us figure some things out.

  1. The decks are $40 MSRP which is more than normal. Either the walkers will be pushed in power level or they’re allowing themselves to reprint expensive cards they didn’t before (Doubling Season?)
  2. 4 decks means they won’t be all mono-colored. Commander 2017 showed they stress color balance over the set not over the decks and gave us a 5-color Dragon and 2-color cat and stuff in between.
  3. My Ajani Vengeant deck will make them regret the decision to allow older ‘walkers to be commanders.

I think hype alone is going to drive some prices if any of this information is confirmed, so we have a small window to act on it before everyone else comes to the conclusions we’re coming to today and scoops the cards. Better from us at a higher price than at current retail because we napped on this info.

The Chain Veil

Old Chainy veil is calming down a bit and my initial impression was that this is a likely reprint in the Commander decks or more likely one of them, but I got to thinking, is it? The Chain Veil is played in two types of decks with Planeswalkers; Superfriends, which is a deck with a lot of Planeswalkers and Chain Veil Teferi, a deck that uses exactly one Planeswalker in particular and rarely any others, although not always. The two reprint scenarios, then are either a Teferi reprint or a ‘Walker that is similarly good with The Chain Veil which won’t happen because you can’t put the stupid Chain Veil/Teferi infinite combo in a precon and only charge 5 extra dollars and expect the other decks to compete. You also can’t jam $300 worth of Planeswalkers in a $40 precon and call it a Superfriends deck, and you can put 4 Planeswalkers in a precon and call it a Superfriends deck. Since The Chain Veil isn’t great outside of those two scenarios, neither of which is appropriate for a precon (though fine to be built by the end user) I think reprint risk is mitigated. That gives us a declining, second-spike-ready artifact that can go in any Planeswalker deck that wants it. I think this goes up on hype as much as playability and you can always sell off before the full decklists are announced if you really are afraid of a reprint.

The foil is down, too. Hallelujah. A lot of this decrease is post-Atraxa hangover where the bad angel promised to make every card in any possible build $20 forever but there is a real chance for this to recover, especially with its reprint risk farther mitigated. This doesn’t even have to play nicely with the new cards to go up on hype, so be on the supply side of the coming wave.

Doubling Season

This is a bit of an obvious one, too, but I don’t know how good it would be outside of superfriends builds, necessarily. Also, people could always build that before and allowing a Planeswalker to helm the deck isn’t necessarily going to make that option more attractive. Unlike the Chain Veil, this only goes in green decks and if there is no new 5 color Walker (can you imagine? Yuck) I don’t know. Now that the two obvious ‘Walker cards are out of the way, it becomes a little tougher to figure out what we can make money off of. Let’s add to that the fact that all of the other cards in Superfriends seem to only be good at finding ‘Walkers in the deck.

Meh.

Ugh.

Oy vey.

We’re going to need to try a different approach, and that is to look at any cards in common between the 5 existing Planeswalker commanders. So… artifacts? Lands?

If I don’t say something smart pretty soon, this was a waste of an observation.

I’ll save like and hour on EDHREC – there’s nothing. There are no common cards between the 5 current Planeswalkers as Commanders and I doubt there’s anything in common with the new ones. That means we basically have to slide down a tier of certainty if we’re going to come up with anything worthwhile.

We’re Speccing For Real

I’ll finish this article by talking about the Planeswalkers I think would be the best Commanders and if there are any cards that pair nicely with them.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher

This would be nuts as a Commander, especially in green where you can cast her with Doubling Season and get the emblem right away on top of refilling your grip. This card isn’t super exciting outside of the odd Atraxa build right now but if this is in your command zone, your mana dorks draw cards, you can frost dudes all day and you can say goodbye to mana. Whaaa? There’s no interacting with that stupid emblem, either. Good luck.

Cards that pair well with this build – 

Doubling Season

Enter the Infinite

Every Eldrazi

Ajani Vengeant

This probably isn’t that good but I’m still going to build the stupid thing. Screw you and your lands in particular, scrub.

Cards that pair well with this build – I don’t even know, I regret bringing it up.

Kaya, Ghost Assassin 

I see people call this a good Stax commander, and I can’t disagree. This would be annoying as hell to play against.

Cards that pair well with this build – 

Stax cards.

I don’t know, Hokori?

Smokestacks probably? I think?

Let me google EDH stax cards.

Some dude wrote a whole crazy primer, but they all seem to want

So be apprised of that. Those cards are all probably good pickups anyway.

I feel like any of the decent commanders could get their own entire article. If we do it that way, we’ll want to wait until people start building the decks that way, so as much fun as I’m having here, there isn’t much point in continuing.

What I think we’ll do is revisit this when there is something more actionable and we may give any given commander the article treatment the way we would any new Legendary creature. For now, I think there are moves to make here and I am really feeling good about The Chain Veil because even an announcement is going to drive buying and we want to be holding copies when that happens.

I hope you got some value from this piece and we’ll try something a little more traditional next week. Until then!

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MTG Fast Finance Podcast: Episode 89 (Oct 12th/17)

MTG Fast Finance is our weekly podcast covering the flurry of weekly financial activity in the world of Magic: The Gathering. MFF provides a fast, fun and useful sixty minute format. Follow along with our seasoned hosts as they walk you through this week’s big price movements, their picks of the week, metagame analysis and a rotating weekly topic.

Show Notes: Oct 12th, 2017

Segment 1: Top Card Spikes of the Week

Charmed Griffin

Charmed Griffin (MM, Foil Uncommon)
Start: $.75
Finish: $5.00
Gain: +$4.25 (+567%)

Quicksilver Fountain (MRD, Rare)
Start: $1.00
Finish: $5.00
Gain: +$4.00 (+400%)

Longtusk Cub (KLD, Foil Uncommon)
Start: $2.25
Finish: $7.50
Gain: +5.25 (+233%)

Hunting Grounds (CMA, Foil Rare)
Start: $9.00
Finish: $25.00
Gain: +16.00 (+178%)

Fiery Justice (MM, Rare)
Start: $3.00
Finish: $7.00
Gain: +$4.00 (+133%)

Aether Flash (7th, Foil Rare)
Start: $6.00
Finish: $13.00
Gain: +$7.00 (+117%)

Memory Jar (URL, Foil Rare)
Start: $185.00
Finish: $400.00
Gain: +$215.00 (+116%)

Search for Azcanta (IXL, Rare)
Start: $7.00
Finish: $15.00
Gain: +$8.00 (+114%)

Nicol Bolas (LEG, Rare)
Start: $27.00
Finish: $55.00
Gain: +$28.00 (+104%)

Vraska’s Contempt (CON, Foil Rare)
Start: $5.00
Finish: $10.00
Gain: +$5.00 (+100%)

Segment 2: Picks of the Week

James’ Picks:

Thought-Knot Seer

  1. Thought-Knot Seer (OGW, Rare)
  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $7.00 to $20.00 (+13.00/185%) 6-18+ months)

2. Sigarda’s Aid (EMN, Foil Rare)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $3.50 to $10.00 (+6.50/+185%, 12-18+ months)

3. Aetherflux Reservoir (KLD, Foil Rare)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $5.00 to $15.00 (+10.00/+200%, 6-12+ months)

Travis Picks:

Assemble the Legion

Duskwatch Recruiter

  1. Assemble the Legion (GTC, Rare)
  • The Call: Confidence Level 9: $6.00 to $15.00 (+9.00/+150%, 6-12+ months)

2. Phyrexian Metamorph (NPH, Rare)

  • The Call: Confidence Level 8: $9.00 to $20.00 (+11.00/+122%, 0-12+ months)

Disclosure: Travis and James may own, or intend to own, speculative copies of the above cards.

Segment 3: Metagame Week in Review

The Standard meta at the World Championships was the topic of the week, as the crew reviewed the continual narrowing of the meta into Red, Energy and UBx Control strategies.

Segment 4: Topic of the Week

Travis and James took a deep dive on the state of Magic: The Gathering branding and how it might impact the future of the game.

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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