Category Archives: Unlocked ProTrader

Unlocked Pro trader: Free Money

I love reprint sets.

I don’t have to do things I don’t like doing when the cards are all reprints. You know what I hate doing? Going through 300 new cards and finding the one card that isn’t preselling for enough money and pointing it out to people. I hate that. People argue with me because they have their own pet card they’d rather see hit and if I’m right, they don’t remember and if I’m wrong, they bring it up in an unrelated argument 5 years later. I’m not complaining about the job, per se, rather I’m relishing that I get to do something I like a lot more – telling you where the free money is.

When Iconic Masters came out, there were plenty of cards that dropped to around $1 that rallied hard and made people a lot of money. A few of them are in Double Masters, and while that’s not great, it does mean we have about 2 years to make money on cards with which we’re assured to make some money. That seems like plenty and instead of keeping you from my spicy picks any longer, let’s get into the thick of it.

Reprint sets mean we already have adoption data, and years of it to boot. We already know what the most-used cards in the set will be, and EDHREC ranks them by the percentage of eligible decks using them for us. All we need to do is go down the list and figure out what’s going to rebound. Sounds easy, right? Well, actually… yes, it is. I’m going to do it for you because you paid to read this article or waited patiently to read it later and either way you deserve something for that. Besides, I care about EDH so you don’t have to and that’s taught me a thing or two.

They say failure is the greatest teacher but, I dunno, I feel like it was pretty instructive to make a bunch of money on this card when it was in Iconic Masters and got real cheap.

IM copies STARTED OUT at $4 on CK and were even cheaper on TCG Player. The price shot up precipitously over the years, because of course it did. This card is played a ton and there really isn’t better mass removal in White and it’s hard to imagine there ever will be. Lorwyn block was fairly slow and the decks that beat the Merfolk and Kithkin beatdowns didn’t run removal as expensive as Austere Command because Firespout existed. I don’t know if Standard will ever be slow enough again to make a 6 drop sweeper like Austere Command, and a better one to boot, so either it’s a Commander exclusive or Austere Command continues to be the king. I’m betting this is reprinted in 2 years and no card better comes along by then. I’m betting you can buy in at its current $3ish and make money on it. I’m buying in, personally.

I’d like to see if this gets any cheaper before I buy in, but as much of a slam dunk as Austere Command was when Iconic Masters was out, this is in more decks. It has cross-format appeal, so the real X-factor here is whether Legacy returns in full force. I DO NOT ADVOCATE buying cards that are not EDH-only right now in paper. I think there are better sweepers that don’t need another format to help them grow and justify a high buy-in price. Instead of Deluge, buy Eviction.

The smallest amount this ever grew by over a 2 year period was 100%. The most it ever grew over a 2 year period, and the most recent period of growth, saw it grow 200%. This is going to get near bulk and, if left alone, could flirt with $5 in like 3 years. I don’t give this the same odds I give Austere Command, but this is in a full quarter of the decks that contain Black and White and it’s one of the scariest cards in EDH. Bet money this bounces back.

This went from $5 to $10 in 2 years. A reprinting knocked it back down to $5 and then it climbed to $20 in 2 years. Could this go 2 years without a reprinting again? Maybe. But this card is one of the best Green creatures in all of Magic and we’re getting lands matters stuff in the next set so I bet every Green EDH deck brewed with a commander from return to return to Zendikar will want one of these. I also think this is not likely to be in the Commander decks that come out around return to return to Zendikar. If it is, we get blown out pretty hard. If it’s not, this card has shown you what it can do.

This flirted with $20 and when it gets under $10, which it should, it could suddenly become an option for players who didn’t want to shell out $20. This peaked at the time when decks like Kalamax were printed which meant players didn’t necessarily want to shell out $20 for an uncommon, but as this approaches $5, a price we’ve seen it historically recover from easily, this flirts with $15 soon and likely goes at least 2 years without a reprint. Wait for peak supply, which should take a couple of weeks, and snap them up. This is currently cheaper on CK than it is on TCG Player and I can’t imagine that holds. My money is obviously on TCG Player’s price going down.

The money I have made on just Exploration and Burgeoning alone is astounding. It’s really too easy. They’re not seemingly willing to print this into powder and if they do print this again in the next 24 months, I’m betting my own money that it will be a premium version that won’t really affect the price of the non-premium versions. Wait for peak supply and grab twice as many of these as you think you need.

Cards that are probably dead

There are a few cards that I think have been reprinted so aggressively that even if the price recovers, it will do it so slowly that it will get reprinted again before you can really make any money. These are good cards that I like but won’t buy.

Two reprints in a year? Ouch.

Unless you get this as a bulk rare, you’re not likely to get back out clear of what you’d lose to fees. This is a price predicated on scarcity rather than EDH play and it got downshifted from Mythic to Rare. RIP in Peace.

Penny Stocks

There are some cards that will likely be good buys under a buck.

The rarity downshift hurts this to the extent that it basically counts as 2 reprints in a year, but I think this is less likely to get reprinted subsequently which is what I think separates this from Champion of Lambholt, a card I hope I’m wrong about. I like this near bulk – this card does work and it gets better as creatures do.

Conjyclos’ wants its money back, too, and I bet it gets it. It’s been a long time since this got a reprinting and it might be a long time before it gets another one. I’m betting this goes near bulk and people come off of these for a dime or quarter locally.

I have made a lot of money on this card over the years and I do not intend to stop now. It’s not reprinted as often as people might think and it does a ton of work, especially since WotC is accused of making Boros boring and almost every attempt to make it not boring loves this card (except Winota which broke every format in Magic, nice work).

That’s what I think is fit to print. You’re welcome to look at the whole set yourself on the EDHREC page sorted by inclusion percentage to get a sense of what’s played more – it may help you a lot if you only look at sets sorted by highest price. If you have any specific questions, hit me up. Thanks for reading – until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: BuildIng A Deck First

READERS

You know how I always tout my success rate using my new method of waiting until decks develop on EDHREC so we buy what players are actually using and not what they might use? How has that worked for you so far? Are you enjoying having more of my advice be actionable? Are your gains higher, thereby giving you more confidence in my advice, allowing you to feel safe buying deeper and realizing even more gains? Is that a good feeling? Has that taken our relationship as writer and reader to new heights? Has it made you become an MTG Price Pro Trader? Perhaps have you tracked down my podcast Patreon and given something back? What if I told you that for 1 week I was going to ENTIRELY DISREGARD EVERYTHING THAT IS CURRENTLY WORKING FOR ME and do something that is literally 90% or more speculation?

If you’re someone who has enjoyed my rational, data-based approach to EDH speculation these last few years that I have been killing it, please stop reading now. I’m serious, this will erode your confidence in me unless I am so good at what I do by now that I can pick what people are going to play before they even know. How far in advance are we talking? I’m going to pick cards that go in a deck based around a creature I assume will be a legal commander in a set that isn’t at all previewed yet based on a picture of a deck wrapper. It doesn’t get any more speculative than that, I’m serious, this is a really bad and risky idea. I wrote a bunch of good articles this year, go back through my greatest hits.

If, however, you’re in a feisty mood like I am and you want to get a glimpse into my thought process as much as see cards I’m 90% or more sure I’m going to put in this deck no matter what the card actually does, buckle up, buttercup, because the hype train has no brakes, it’s like the Chrysler Building on wheels and Tony Scott isn’t around to tell us how the story ends. Let’s speculate as wildly as we possibly can.

The Facts

Magic The Gathering Reveals New Booster And Cards From "The List ...

See it yet?

ENHANCE

ENHANCE!

Omnath is back, baby, and he’s got a white-looking arm. MaRo said that characters we know are coming back with more colors, and they have very consistently jammed more colors onto Omnath over the years. I’m certain enough that we’re getting a WURG Omnath in Zendikar Rising to devote an entire article to the notion.

Omnath, Locus of Mana (WWK)

The first Omnath soaked up all of the Green mana he could find and it made him huge. Mana and growth became associated with Omnath even though his abilities shifted later.

Omnath, Locus of Rage (BFZ)

Mana still matters, but here in the new Zendikar, Omnath got a formal landfall trigger rather than the generic “It sure would be nice if you fed me some delicious mana” ability from before. Omnath grows out, not up, and his elementals matter as much as lands do. This was a much more fun deck than Mono-Green Omnath.

Omnath, Locus of the Roil (M20)

We kept the landfall trigger but only after a certain point since it would be really disgusting to have a 4 mana Tatyova with Red in the identity that could also dome people when it came into play. This Omnath feels more like he was tailored to the needs of the set than he was tailored to Omnath’s needs as a character.

If the design moving forward means Omnath will be built around the needs of the set and we’re going back to Zendikar, it is fairly safe to conclude that there will be a landfall ability. In any case, every Omnath has been built around ramp mattering.

Remember, High Synergy cards are going to find cards that are more likely to be found in that specific Omnath deck than others. High Synergy cards aren’t generically good cards, they’re cards that are more likely to synergize specifically with that commander. That said, we see some overlap. I think it’s very unlikely that there will be an Elemental tribal subtheme so we can cut a lot of middling Elementals that a lot of people insist on running. Avenger of Zendikar has a 90% chance of making the deck, imo.

The ship has largely sailed here. There have historically been opportunities to buy in very cheap and if it gets reprinted, that’s something we should take advantage of. There are a few more products this year that could contain Avenger so let’s not buy in now, but let’s also note that this shot above $10 everywhere and no one really noticed.

The mystery booster retail edition foil printing of this card has really attenuated its price. For people who don’t like foils, this could be a good time to buy in while the prices are converging. This was a $6 card before they printed a small number of foils that have had a hard time getting integrated into the market, this price will rebound and it will also figure heavily into a landfall deck, should Womnath have a landfall ability, which seems likely, unless there is a set mechanic they want to highlight that works very different. Either way, there has never been an Omnath deck where playing a bunch of lands was a bad idea and this card is as good as it seems.

Here’s another card that got hit much harder than expected by the Mystery Booster reprinting. None of the non-EDH formats that play this card are running right now and it’s unclear when they will again so EDH will have to do the heavy lifting, but this card at $4ish is way too cheap right now. It’s sort of insulting, honestly.

It’s not just existing, temporarily-embarrassed cards that have upside, imo.

I’m clearly not the only one who thinks this likely gets a spot in Womnath as it’s headed up. Even if it never materializes, the price likely heads near $20 and stays above $10. I have been a big proponent of this card forever, so I obviously think it’s got upside, but if Womnath is a landfall deck, this card will finally be able to join a landfall deck that can trigger it.

Foil Ruin Ghost has flirted with $3 before and I think it can get there again. I use Retreat to Coralhelm in Omnath already and with access to Ghost, the card does even more work, giving you an infinite number of landfall triggers. The non-foils are probably getting an upgrade from “total bulk” so it looks like a rising tide can lift all boats. I like Ghost a lot. There are a ton of sub-$1 foils but it’s hard to imagine where the restock will come from when they sell out.

This has been printed into dust but it can only go up, right?

Finally, here is the average EDHREC deck for Omnath Locus of the Roil. If you’re not familiar with how a deck like this works, familiarize yourself with this and a few lists from the site. See how people think a deck like this needs to work. A new color doesn’t mean that 25% of the deck will be white – there is quite a bit of immovable infrastructure, a lot of it Green, that needs to be in place for the deck to function. I think you pick up bucks where you can like with Admonition Angel and maybe foil copies of cards like Ruin Ghost and Retreat to… the White one. It’s possible there is room for Emeria Angel or Emeria Shepherd to go up, also. Ultimately, this is a spot to showcase a set mechanic and if that’s not landfall, the cuter cards won’t work but ramp still will, so bear that in mind. When the card is actually printed, I’ll do another article but it’s never too early to think ahead. That does it for me, everyone. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Adoption

Readers!

I know I say this all the time, but today I’m going to try something new. I don’t know if it will work and you’re going to get me trying to construct some sort of way to compare two sets released at drastically different times under drastically different circumstances and try to draw some conclusions we can use to make some money from. Sound good? It doesn’t sound… like, ideal to me, but that’s what’s going to happen.

What can we figure out about Core Set 2021 by looking at Core Set 2020 and also just relying on stuff that we know?

There, that’s the thesis statement for this thing we’re doing here. Yes, it seems loose to me, too. That said, Core Set 2021 may have some very ambiguous and confusing pricing based on the myriad factors that made this release very abnormal but it does not have ambiguous adoption numbers – those are pretty clear. Some of them are surprising but I don’t expect them to change drastically enough for me to be able to get out of admitting I was wrong about, for example, Teferi’s Ageless Insight. For the most part, though, there aren’t too many surprises which makes me think the data we have is “stable” (as in not likely to change in proportion as it changes in value – we’ll have more decks playing Garruk’s Uprising in 6 months but the percentage of eligible decks playing it shouldn’t change).

If we can assume the numbers are stable enough, we can try and figure out what the prices should do and see if there are cards we can identify that are good buys at their current price or figure out if there are cards we should watch. Will prices go down as boxes are opened more? Maybe? They certainly should, but boxes are being opened and singles are being introduced to the market very slowly and inefficiently. I don’t think anything in Core Set 2021 will get as cheap as an “equivalent” Core Set 2020 card, but we can at least look at the ratios between the prices in the set and try to make predictions.

Let’s look at the new set, shall we?

Here is the order commander from Core 2020 are being built. No real shockers here because all of them are really bad. I mean, Radha and Vito are fine, I guess, but Vito is boring in the command zone and everyone already has a deck like Radha and they’ll just make Radha and Mina and Denn swap spots.

The cards in the 99 are a little more interesting.

So is $1 on Teferi’s Ageless Insight Showcase versions good? How about $0.50 on Sanctum? Will $15 for Ren and Stimpy hold up? Let’s look at Core Set 2020 and see if we can learn anything.

Maybe it’s because I’ve had an additional year to play with them, but these cards just seem better. I don’t know if the price matters, but I’m certainly interested in the ratio of prices. Is Drakuseth worth twice as much as Seraph and can we say that Terror of the Peaks will be worth twice as much as Mangara? That seems doubtful on all counts. What is interesting is that a lot of the cards used most in EDH were also used a lot in Standard. Will that be the same with Core Set 2021?

Moldervine Reclamation is in quite a few decks. It’s in the same percentage roughly as Veil of Summer, but over the period since Core Set 2020 has been legal, twice as many decks that have Green but no Black have been built as decks with Green and Black both. Does that mean that in a year we’ll see Garruk’s Uprising in twice as many decks as Moldervine Reclamation? If we do, do we think it has any upside?

If you think Garruk’s Uprising has twice the potential of this foil that is now $3 and climbing, does that mean we might want to look at foil Uprising?

Does this $1.50 foil double or quadruple, then? Will it be $3 or $6? Here’s a huge potential complication.

Do people want this, the set foil?

Will they want this non-foil showcase version? I hate foils but like premium versions so this would be my preference. But this isn’t the “best” version for people who like to optimize.

There’s also a foil version of the showcase version. That said, there isn’t much price difference with the 2 showcase versions right now.

Based on the current price of Moldervine Reclamation, I think that Uprising has as much or more potential. The 4 different possible version and 3 versions that feel “premium” complicate matters a lot, but I think if there is no downside to buying the foil Showcase version, you might want to have a diverse portfolio. We don’t know what all of these different showcase versions mean to EDH players and instead of betting on one outcome, cover your bases since the price is so similar for all versions.

Currently it looks like Vito is outperforming Vilis 2 to 1 and while that might not hold, Vito is VERY strong in the 99 and probably about as boring as Vilis in the Command Zone, but it could see more play potentially than does Vilis. Vilis saw play outside of EDH very briefly and maybe Vito will, too. If Vito doesn’t, we’re looking at him merely doubling the inclusions Vilis has, and if that holds, we could see a better price outlook. Let’s look at Vilis’ graph. Fine, ugh, graphs. See? This is why I don’t like to talk about foils, then you always have to talk about foils.

When it got a little play outside of EDH, it hit $6, briefly, after peak supply. Not bad at all.

The foil shot to $15.

One thing I will say is that it’s less likely anyone uses Vito outside of EDH in paper because, duh. I think it’s going to have to be EDH that makes this price go. The foil’s buylist price is creeping up a bit but the foil and non-foil are kind of flat. Basically, if you bought some copies at peak supply, you had lots of opportunities to double up on the non-foils, a small window to sextuple up, a small one to triple up, and you may need to hold another year to get more than you paid if you still have them.

Vito is sitting at $4. If we assume the upside is twice as good for Vito, you probably buy at $2 if it ever gets that low and try to sell at $6ish. I don’t think Vito can ever start at $4 and stay above it for long. That said, Vito is the #3 commander in Core 2021 and Vilis is #8 in Core 2020, in case that matters. We’re talking about 362 Vilis decks in the last year – Vito is already at 70 a few weeks in. I expect Vito to be built more. That could give more upside to the foils, which are currently $5 at Strikezone and $10 everywhere else. Hmm.

I’ll buy $5 foils of a $4 card when it’s $10 on Card Kingdom. I’ll do that deal all day. One of you should. I almost did but that would be rude of me.

Things are less promising for the Extended art foils. $13 is a high buy-in indeed, and Vilis needed a lot of help for the foil to even flirt with $15. I am not as bullish on the Extended art foils per se, but I do like non-foil Premium cards so I am targeting the non-foil Extended art copies. This is good in the command zone and the 99 and we have a card played half as much to compare it to directly – seems good to me.

It’s hard to know what to compare Mangara to, but we can compare Mangara to Mangara for one.

So far Mangara is at the helm of 38 decks…

and included in 10 times as many. It’s safe to say Mangara will be a 99-focused card. Do we like it at $6? How many mythics in Core Set 2020 are above $6?

4? Brutal. Unless Core Set 2021 is opened way, way less than Core Set 2020, we’re over a year away from wanting to even look at these cards as cards. What does foil Yarok look like, though, while we’re asking?

It’s on its way back up but all this card did was lose. Yarok is the #10 ranked Commander over the last 2 years and people are more likely to want a foil of their commander than a card in the 99, where Mangara is 10 times as likely to end up. Pair the fact that there are multiple premium versions of Mangara compared to the one of Yarok and how bad Yarok’s graph looks and I think you will forgive me for not even looking up the price of Extended Art Mangara. OK, fine, I’ll do it.

Mangara won’t be built as much as Yarok and that price took a header and is only now recovering. Do you want to bet that supply issues mean Mangara has upside at its current price? I don’t. I’m not saying I think it will or won’t, I’m saying I am risk-averse in my old age and I have the luxury of opting out, as do you. If you think the graph of a card like Mangara could look healthier than Yarok (Mangara isn’t built as much but it will go in way, way, WAY more 99s than Yarok, a Sultai card because Mangara is splashable) go for it. The $10 non-foils look more inviting than the $30 foils, especially for a non-Commander.

That does it for me this week. I think there may be some more analysis in this same vein (Vito joke) to do next week and I’m just the person to do it. Did you like this kind of article? Let me know in the comments below because I really never know whether I should do experimental formats unless you tell me. Thanks for reading – Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Make Bad Cards Good More

Readers!

One problem I have with Wizards making cards for Commander on purpose instead of accidentally is that bad cards will be phased out by 2023. Rhystic Study used to be trash. Big, dumb, 7-mana creatures used to be pipe dreams and now they’re the first play that isn’t a mana rock or ramp spell that people play. The format is adding more and more “must-play” cards and the days of EDH being a bulk rare format are over.

This is why it’s heartening to see decks that make bad cards relevant. It’s heartening as a player and exciting as a financier because cards going from unplayed to must-include, even in fringe decks, can make you some money. Bottomless Pit’s price shows how inefficient the market is right now and while it likely won’t stick, it’s also taking its sweet time moving because of the inability of sellers to get copies onto the platform. Once a card is $11 on TCG Player, it’s not going to stay cheap everywhere else.

Tinybones was obvious but the second most popular commander from this week’s set drop could make even more obscure cards go up. Let’s look at the second coming of Zedruu.

Inniaz, the Gale Force (Commander / EDH MTG Deck)

Inniaz looks like a lot of fun and, more importantly, could bump up some old, worthless cards. Let’s look at a few, shall we? Like, I can dispense with some of the preamble because you’ve read enough of my articles by now to know my methods and if you haven’t, you can figure out how to read the last few? Plus I forgot. Let’s just do the article.

I’m not sure why this is so cheap but I like this for getting your stuff back and triggering some ETB effect while you’re at it. There’s no reason not to play Cloudblazer and Mulldrifter in a deck like this and both are great to donate then yoink back, then repeat. One Cloudblazer can come in, trigger, participate in combat next turn, trigger Inniaz, go to the opponent, get blinked, trigger again, etc. If you’re getting your fliers back and getting ETB triggers to boot, you can mitigate Inniaz’s parity, and not have to keep running out fliers to replace the ones you lost. This has other opportunities to go up and I’ve wondered why this hasn’t hit $10 yet. It will, I just don’t know when. If you’re not convinced, ask yourself where they could reprint this.

Many printings means lots of copies, but this has also been shrugging those reprints off. I think the fact that the non-foil price is approaching the foil price means something is coming soon. These seem low-risk to me and another reprint just means you have an opportunity to buy in even cheaper until your average cost is so low that you don’t feel bad you paid its current $1 price tag.

This card is perfect for this deck and if it maintains popularity like it should, getting in on the absolute floor for foil copies seems prudent. I don’t know what the foil could go to, but I don’t think it can get any cheaper than like $1.50 on TCG Player. It’s not entirely unplayed now…

…just almost entirely. At dirt cheap, the foils have some upside, provided Inniaz catches on.

One interesting caveat I might as well mention now is that Inniaz is a pain to play on webcam and that’s where a lot of EDH is played these days. Everyone having to have proxies for cards they’re borrowing means you’re making work for everyone with your deck choice and they might not appreciate it after awhile. Some people might decide they don’t want the hassle of playing with this deck and it could hurt its adoption. It wasn’t something they considered when they printed the card but it matters now.

This card is played quite a bit, and it’s absurd in this deck where you either blink it to refresh it and get it back or just let someone else have a 1/1 with no blue mana to activate it.

With 3 printings, there are copies out there, but with copies gettable around $4 or $5, how little people play Modern anymore won’t matter since demand will only increase for this card. It likely doesn’t get reprinted again since the price is way under control and it’s pretty absurd in Inniaz decks.

This is sold out everywhere but TCG Player (and MKM, I guess) because it deals people 20 damage and that’s hilarious because you gain 20 life and then ruin someone’s day. Can’t beat that!

There are a ton of cards like Rust Elemental, Steel Golem, Illusions of Grandeur and Thought Lash that hurt the opponent in obvious ways, but Statecraft is old Zedruu tech that hurts them in a bit more of a subtle way. Their creatures are harder to kill but they can’t hurt anyone with theirs and you can really shut a player down with something like this. Pass this as many times as you have to until the right person is having trouble doing anything. Check out the full Zedruu page for more ideas.

Speaking of Thought Lash…

Looks like people already got the memo. This makes me like Illusions even more.

There are other cards in here that are already expensive, but I think some of the inexpensive cards have the ability to go from unplayed to un-keep-in-stock-able on the basis of a popular new commander. Will it stay popular? Who knows? Kalamax has unseated Xyris as Teysa unseated Vannifar and Core 2020 commanders are being built more than Commander 2020 commanders. Everything is messed up right now, but when I get more data, I’ll have more answers and we have more time than ever before. Thanks for reading, everyone. Stay healthy, stay safe, and wear a mask you bunch of savages. Until next time!