Category Archives: ProTrader

Unlocked Pro Trader: Finally, Some Usable Data

I got the data like Arby’s got the meats. If I were to continue rhyming, there are a lot of different directions I could go in like “beats” or “treats” but I’m bored with this already. Everyone knows Battle Rap is the purest form of rhyming and I’m not going to dredge up painful memories of the summer when the other battle rappers found out I played Magic. What I will dredge up is pleasant money-making opportunities, which is why you clicked on this article. Let’s do the thing, shall we?

This isn’t quite what I expected because Ghired is, well, terrible. However, we need to think less like a spike and more like a casual if we’re going to truly grasp what EDH trends are driven by. We can wait for data, but when competitive players turned speculators try to guess what’s going to happen, you get Vannifar specs in a world full of Teysa decks. That rhyme was uninentional. You want to know what was intentional? Look at the first letter of every sentence in this paragraph.

People are building Commander 2019 decks, and not the ones we expected, either. But let’s take a look at some data real fast, shall we?

Probably not what we would have predicted 2 years ago. The spikes were all over the Wizards deck and cards like Wanderwine Prophets and Anthroplasm and all sorts of other Wizards spiked but never really did anything. Kess was better in Legacy. The Mairsil deck was solved day 1 and it was boring and slow and scooped to graveyard hate. I don’t even remember what the other one was because no one ever built it and that I can’t remember it actually strengthens my point. My point is, Ghired and Atla Palani may end up winning out in the end but I guess the end is starting way sooner. Kadena seems to be the spikey choice but there are way more people that want to do Rakdos things, it seems. With that in mind, let’s see if Anje has anything for us because I’d hate to have to delve into Ghired this early in the cycle.

It’s a trash deck full of trash cards. I can’t think of a constructive way to say that it’s a hash of every cheap spell with madness, including stuff that should never see play in EDH like Gorgon Recluse and Strength of Lunacy, two cards you have to look up. If this continues to be a top deck next week, I’ll re-evaluate but from where I am standing, no one is doing anything interesting with Anje despite it being the top deck of the week. If there were money to be made, I’d tell you about it. I’m sure I missed something and, if so, drop it in the comments section. The link to the page is here but I imagine you can find it on your own. Here is the average deck. It’s super boring.

I’m not harping on casuals in any way. Casual cards for casual players are my bread and butter. I literally quit going to SCG Opens when Dark Ascension came out because trading with spikes was so miserable and I started mainly focusing on GPs. The fact is that building around mechanics is a pretty lame idea because it limits your options a whole lot and they didn’t even pick good mechanics. You’re going to maybe make short-term money on Ixidor but you basically would have had to have already had them. I don’t know what goes up from this besides some commons going from bulk to picks and I’m not going to waste your time with a whole article on what is a 5 minute segment on my podcast. I will say peruse the whole list but I looked into this a lot and didn’t find anything.

These are basically gone under $4 right now. I don’t like the new price as a buy-in, but if you find these in bulk boxes like you’re liable to, yank them and try to flip them for around $4-$5 if you can.

I think I want to look at Ghired next. It’s just as obvious and most of the decks on EDHREC have a high volume of cards from the precon right now, but there could be some gems.

Shooty boi goes in enough decks that I’m pretty sure it will break out in one of them. Hard to reprint, very strong, very casual, very Jamie Wakefield, this card is something that you could play in Grismold decks as well so that’s two precons that potentially give us commanders that want this. Each upkeep, not each of your upkeeps. It’s on a down-swing which means I don’t love the graph shape so maybe you wait for these to begin to rebound or, go full Wall Street and buy a bunch and if the price lowers, buy twice as much so your average unit cost is lower and you feel better about throwing good money after bad. I don’t know, this is a good card, whatever.

Poor Man’s Earthcraft, as it likes to be called, is also downish but we saw a pretty recent period where buy price went way up. Its current retail is what buylist used to be and with this card being tough to reprint and powerful in token decks, decks which are always getting made since they’re easy and casuals like them, I think this has long-term potential. I can’t see being sorry I bought in at $4.

Growing Rites is a card that’s also really hard to reprint. I can’t see a flip card in a precon and I can’t see this becoming obsolete because they decided to go a little closer to Gaea’s Cradle in a new card, Lotus Field notwithstanding. I think this is just a card that goes up in price, and with Card Kingdom getting $12 out of this, I think paying half that on TCG Player is doable, especially since that puts the spread near 0.

Card Kingdom sold out at $17. I think this is due to jump and it’s not like Battlebond boxes are getting busted anymore. Not much to say here, this is good in more decks than just Ghired and the store where casual players overpay for cards sold out of this at a high price. Seems fairly obvious.

That does it for me this week. I am really frustrated with Commander 2019 and that may be another article or future podcast rant. There isn’t much room to improve these decks because of the mechanic theme so expect the next set to impact Commander with people hungry to actually build a deck. Until next time!

Pro Trader: The Truth Is Revealed

Readers,

The truth has a way of revealing itself and that’s what happened this week. Last week, Tolsimir was the 3rd most popular commander on EDHREC and this week, Kefnet is 3rd. What happened? Well, like I said, the truth has a way of revealing itself and Kefnet is the truth.

The thing that makes Kefnet so special is that it’s a blue card and it is the kind of deck that tryhards, wannabe tryhards and the one guy who loves to rule his casual meta with an iron fist. Magic players love Blue, not just because card drawing and permission and extra turns are great but also because they usually aren’t that athletic and see themselves as having superior intellect. If your first impulse on reading that is to write a stern comment in the comments section, you’re proving my point. If your impulse is to fight me, good luck, I’ll defeat you with my superior intellect.

Since Kefnet is climbing the ranks of the decks built on EDHREC as well as climbing  the ranks of priciest card (second only to Bolas and behind the Japanese alternate art walkers) in an insane set, what is going on with this deck and is there any money to be made?

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ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Checking In on Inventions: A quick look at some Masterpieces poised for gains.

Over the last couple of years Masterpiece Inventions have allowed players, speculators and vendors to go back to the well at least a few times. Travis and I first noticed an arbitrage opportunity on the Masterpiece Inventions in late 2016. Due primarily to differences in EDH adoption in Europe vs. North America, the already too cheap Inventions were often selling for another 30-50% less than copies in the US or Canada.

As it so happened, I was looking to cash out of my $20k in Magic Online specs at the time, justifiably spooked by the early news on Magic Arena and needed a solid strategy for reinvestment. My thesis was dual-pronged: first that Inventions were largely EDH relevant and likely to be too cheap overseas and secondly, that they would sell better as $300 singles than Expeditions would as $800-1200 sets.

From Dec 2016 to June 2017, I was snapping up $70-100 MPS Sol Rings, Mana Crypts and Mana Vaults, $40 Paradox Engines, Rings of Brighthearth and Extraplanar Lens, etc, etc. As it became obvious to everyone that the Inventions were a smash hit, vendors and speculators started taking a harder look at Expeditions and (eventually) Invocations, driving boom/bust cycles on all of the Masterpieces that have result in generally higher plateaus and some noteable retraces. Turns out, that move was an important cornerstone of my action for the next 18 months, and I’m still not finished selling up the ramp. Truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Fast forward to spring 2019 and many of the Inventions are demonstrating relative price stability. Just last week MPS Paradox Engine tipped up over $150, representing potential 300% gains before fees for folks who were in on that in the earliest days. MPS Sol Rings sell consistently near $300, and will likely hit $500 down the road, but a couple of new factors have me looking at some of the middle tier Masterpieces, wondering where they might land in 6-12 months or less.

The first factor is that a combination of dwindling Kaladesh booster box supply on the open market, and steady demand for the Inventions is draining inventory levels on some cards to the point again where they look like they could show real growth at their next tipping point. The second factor is the announcement of Modern Horizons. What does a Modern focused set have to do with the Inventions, you ask? Well, the thing about Modern Horizons is that it draws a very clear line in the sand on what can’t be reprinted in the next six months or so, removing any lingering doubt for as to whether they we might get a chance at a new premium version in the near future. Certainty of draining supply = sales.

On that basis, let’s take a look at a handful of Masterpieces that could easily see price motion in 2019:

Extraplanar Lens

Extraplanar Lens
Current Price: $60-65
2019 Target: $90

Extraplanar Lens was underestimated in the extreme during the first few rounds of the Masterpiece feeding frenzy. Originally available overseas close to $30, and in the US around $40, the Lens has shown slow steady gains on the back of relatively strong usage in mono-color EDH decks where it can go to work abusing the mana doubling of your plentiful basic lands. At present Extraplanar Lens has one of the lowest inventory levels on TCGPlayer, and they are increasingly hard to find near $60, with a solid ramp pointing to imminent gains. I see no reason not to snap up a couple of these given that buylists are already backing the play over $60.

Chalice of the Void

Chalice of the Void
Current Price: $170-180
2019 Target: $225

Here we have a Modern staple that is increasingly relevant in a format that is looking to abuse the casting of multiple cheap spells per turn. Chalice is also typically played as a 4 of and has relevant in Legacy and Vintage as well. As with Lens, the ramp is steep and the inventory is shallow, so while the gains aren’t the highest possible by %, the odds that this joins the rest of the elite $250+ MPS cards in the near future seem good.

Aether Vial

Aether Vial
Current Price: $160-170
2019 Target: $225

Given the near constant presence of this card as a 4-of staple in both Modern and Legacy, I’m a bit surprised that it hasn’t already pushed $250+. Part of the issue is likely that the decks that are most often using Vial are not at the top of the heap in Modern so long as Dredge and Phoenix reign supreme. That being said, if you believe that the Modern meta is due for a shakeup, either via the banning of Faithless Looting and/or Ancient Stirrings, or through some fresh hotness from the forthcoming Modern Horizons set, there is a decent chance that Aether Vial decks stand to gain from the coming sea shift. Regardless of how it gets there, I’ll be very surprised to see this card ride out the year under $200. The inventory is moderate here, but they do tend to get bought in 4s, so that’s worth consideration.

Sword of Feast and Famine

Sword of Feast & Famine
Current Price: $160-170
2019 Target: $225

Sword of Feast & Famine is the most popular of the original sword series for EDH purposes, with nearly 19,000 decks registered on EDHREC.com. Some MTGPrice Pro Traders have been theory crafting that Modern Horizons could include the printing of the five swords with the missing color pairs. This could be enough to get people to clean out the very, very low supply of this card, and from a collector perspective I don’t think you want to be sleeping on this card any longer.

Wurmcoil Engine

Wurmcoil Engine
Current Price: $150
2019 Target: $200

Wurmcoil Engine is a staple in EDH (16k decks+ on EDHREC) and consistently played in Tron in Modern, as well as being a cube staple. Inventory is very low in the US, and this one seems like a straight shot at adding some value in the next six months.

Chrome Mox


Chrome Mox
Current Price: $100
2019 Target: $160

Chrome Mox is registered in 14k+ EDH decks on EDHREC.com despite a relatively shallow past of set printings (Mirrodin + Eternal Masters). That’s a solid display of demand for a gorgeous mana rock that still be had for close to $100 on dwindling supply and a very steep ramp. Further, I don’t see WoTC prioritizing a reprint any time soon.

Rings of Brighthearth

Rings of Brighthearth
Current Price: $110
2019 Target: $160

If you’re looking to pick up an Invention with reach, you can do a lot worse than picking one that is about to undergo a serious boost in demand as War of the Spark makes doubling Planeswalker abilities a very sexy ability indeed. This card makes every build of Atraxa Superfriends already, supply is low and I smell a winner.

Chromatic Lantern

Chromatic Lantern
Current Price: $95
2019 Target: $140

Oh, how many EDH decks is this in? (Spits coffee out!) 63K! Sure, this card just caught a reprint in Guilds of Ravnica and there are plenty of copies floating around, but that just means the odds of a fresh version in the next couple of years just dropped through the floor. Never out of fashion in a format full of greedy color requirements, the inventory on this Invention is only moderately low near $100, but this pushing closer to $150 is a question of when, not if in my books. Not an immediate priority, but zero reason to hold off as a collector and an excellent target for a good coupon.

So there you have it, my current picks for solid Invention specs. What’s on your radar? Did I miss anything? Catch you next time.

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.

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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ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.