Category Archives: Unlocked ProTrader

Unlocked Pro Trader: Theros Beyond Surprising



This is the part of the spoiler season is where I check EDHREC data and do a double take. I could have taken a stab at guessing how the week one deck distributions would shake out but I would have been way off. For the set, my guess would have been.

  1. Uro
  2. Athreos
  3. Kroxa
  4. Thassa
  5. Klothys

I got exactly one of those right and the others were WAY off. If you’re guessing that I had the #1 deck in my Top 5 but just not in the #1 spot, YOU’RE way off. Here’s how it shook out.

I liked Siona, but Siona at number 1 is pretty breathtaking. Uro below Kroxa, Thassa below Dalakos and Athreos below Purphoros are all pretty big surprises, which is why my accuracy rate started going up when I based my picks on what people were doing and not what I assumed they would do.

What people ARE doing is building two Siona decks for every one Uro deck, so let’s dive into Siona, shall we?

Number one with a bullet is this auto-include. This is sold out on every site but TCG Player but it still hasn’t quite crested the $3 mark there. With copies in Commander, Explorers of Ixalan and Gideon’s spellbook, it’s going to be pretty tough for this card to get over $5 but I think with a potential feeding frenzy we could get there. I think this is a little volatile, too recent and too abundant to care about and while it may feel good to snag a forgotten $1 copy or two, I think your best case scenario is a buylist double up after fees and while that’s good, that’s unlikely to be something you do with more than a dozen or so copies at most. If you can buylist 100 of these and make a buck or two a copy, you’re going to feel OK but I think the potential to be left holding the bag is too high to recommend this. Cards like this are a target, though, especially older ones.


The time period where one store runs out and restocks and another store still has copies at the old price is fascinating because you can see jumps in real time if you check often enough. This card doesn’t know if it’s $2 or $10 but I suspect even if it’s played less than we think, it’s old enough to end up wedged between the pre- and post-spike price and that’s a nice payday for the quick and the witty. I like this a lot more than S.B.F. and I think this may be the best spec of the article if you can find these. Stores that aren’t super organized will still have these in their bulk rares, so check there first.

Old Theros was a while back and a second spike on a card that has less stock than people think is primed for movement. I’m a real champion of this as a spec and there aren’t cheap copies to ferret out like there were last time so this is going to be purely controlled by the supply on TCG Player hitting a tipping point or not.

This is one of those specs that got away. I loved it, saw the price was flat forever, never said anything to anyone about it to prove I liked it, bought 0 copies on purpose and when it spiked, it seemed so obvious in hindsight. I have a tendency to second-guess myself even on specs that are super obvious and sometimes it’s just a matter of TCG Player restocking as fast as it sold out, something moderate, organic demand has a tendency to do. If there were a way to sort by cards that move briskly but don’t fluctuate in price much, I bet this would be among those. You had a chance to get in for half a buck and I bet no one recommended it and that feels pretty bad. I want to say this is done going up, but we’ve established I don’t know anything about this card.


I don’t love this as a spec. I do, however, want to point out that this was never affordable, 0 boats were missed, no one could have made more than a buck before fees here and that’s crazy. EDH cards that are this powerful don’t fly under the radar anymore. Is that partly my fault? Yeah, but we also have to address the reality we live in and the reality is that new cards aren’t usually great EDH specs. I like Siona making Rether $8 but I don’t like Siona, savez?

Crashing Drawbridge

This isn’t a spec but it’s hilarious because the deck makes infinite tokens at sorcery speed and this is the only way to win that turn in Green and White without using them to make infinite mana or gain a ton of life. When I brewed the deck for CoolStuff I was durdling by recasting Rancor and saccing the creature to Phyrexian Altar until I could kill them with Aetherflux Reservoir. This is neat.

Perhaps we should have had the “second spike” discussion last week but I was writing about something else. There’s still money to be made and all of the copies haven’t been accounted for yet.

That does it for me. This deck is being built twice as much as decks I thought would be built more and while that won’t necessarily hold (there could be an early spike due to excitement around the Shielded By Faith combo, a combo I’ll point out needs Crashing Drawbridge) it’s good to know what’s really getting built.

Until next time!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: Before We Know Anything


Spoiler season is reminding me a lot of this time last year, although the cards that are going nuts aren’t all EDH this time around. Last year we got a lot of data to use for scenarios like now where we have cards that are going to spike on the basis of potential interaction to compare to the two different kinds of spikes last year. I will call one kind of spike “Vannifar” and the other “Teysa” and we can look at what’s what. First, though, a few brief looks at what’s going on.

This card was spoiled, and it’s pretty good with this.

No one could figure out what happened with Hermit Druid last week-

Until we had the reason for it spoiled today.

Escape is an interesting mechanic and devotion is also back. Could a card that puts cards in the graveyard and gives you a few pips be in play? Some say yes.

We could list a whole bunch of cards that combo with Thassa’s Oracle like Tainted Pact and Demonic Consultation, but since Laboratory Maniac was legal last week, I don’t think those prices stick. Today, we’re going to talk about Vannifar, Teysa, and stickiness.

History Repeating

Last year, everyone in the finance world was going nuts for Vannifar specs. Intruder Alarm, Thornbite Staff, you name it. After all, it was a pod chain that could tear through the deck and get you all the way up to Craterhoof (my favorite is Avenger of Zendikar into Craterhoof) and get there quickly. It’s easier to deal 20 damage like that than it is 60 damage, though, and you could tell who played a lot of 60 card Magic and who played a lot of 100 card Magic. I waded into the Vannifar stuff but noted it was more cEDH players hyped for Vannifar and wasn’t sure it would be the most popular commander of the set. It wasn’t.

Nor is it close. Vannifar is currently, a year on, ranked 4th after Lavinia, a commander that BARELY does what it actually is supposed to do in EDH. It makes mana rocks worse, though, and if you want to ‘Geddon people on a casual format, cool? Still, Vannifar is underperforming a bit, so why don’t we revisit the specs from that deck a year on and compare them to the ones from Teysa?

This is what Vannifar did to Intruder Alarm then.

Even with cards that pair well with Alarm printed since, it’s down to about halfway between its pre-spike and post-spike price, which is unfortunately what happens to cards that have lowish stock and decent play in other decks. Cards that are unused by other decks have problems, too, because they got from one dollar to unsutainable numbers like $10, but this was around $10 and that’s what it is on TCG Player, now, so while you had time in the short term to make money, I prefer cards that keep their value. Something with a lot more stock may behave differently, so let’s look at something like that.

Thorny WAS looking like the poster child for “Vannifar” specs – cards that crash after the deck is less popular than we thought, but it spiked again later for an unrelated reason so it threw us off. You might assume it maintained its value if we didn’t have a graph of historical prices to note the shape of – this went down and back up.


Atla Palani, Nest Tender

Wamp wommmmmp. You know what sounds I’m making when I say that, right? Atla came along and threw off our data, but I’m sure Staff was going to end up halfway between pre- and post-spike, if not lower.

Our data can get thrown off the other way, too.

Yeah! Check out THAT decline! More like VanniFART amirite?

Commander 2019: Great Oak Guardian

Ah. I see.

Keep digging, though, and you’ll find plenty of examples. Vannifar just couldn’t maintain the level of insanity that surrounded the initial feeding frenzy because it’s built 75% less than Teysa. Last year I wrote an article called “Karlov the Magnificent” and another called “Data > Not Data” that explored Teysa specs. Did they fare better in terms of sustainability a year on? Go read the article and pick out the cards I called in it so you can verify I’m not cherry-picking.







The latter article, Data > Not Data was one where I looked at cards that had a good ratio of inclusion rate and synergy rate which meant not only was it in a lot of Teysa decks, it was MOSTLY in Teysa decks. Those are the cards that would be pushed up by Terysa, and the cheaper cards could be more sustainable that way since Teysa is built 4 times as much as Vannifar.

Here is foil Pitless Plunderer a year on.


We can draw a couple of conclusions.

  • Cards that are in a lot of decks like Dictate of Erebos and Intruder Alarm tend to settle about halfway between the pre- and post-spike price.
  • Foils of Teysa cards do better than foils of Vannifar cards.
  • Even Teysa can’t sustain bulk rares with multiple printings.
  • Sometimes you get lucky and another card comes along and re-spikes the card. That’s more likely to happen with a card with lots of axes of utility like Thornbite Staff (untapping, damage, tribal affinity) than cards that are more specific like Requiem Angel (most EDH non-token spirits are bad)
  • You have more time to buy Teysa specs and more time to sell them

I think a lot of the spikes we’re seeing right now are very Vannifar. Ballista and Heliod is more for Pioneer. Oracle of Thassa isn’t great in EDH and the cards good with it are already known and already expensive, but I’m sure people will buy Paradigm Shift and the guy who messaged me to say “Paradigm Shift is one the Reserved List, should we buy it out because it’s on the Reserved List and hope it goes up someday” and I said “No” to is going to message me calling me an idiot for not being an oracle myself. Buy Tainted Pact? Don’t really, but maybe. If Tainted Pact goes up, I’m going to claim I called it. But don’t buy it. But if it goes up, remember I said to. But I’m saying not to. Unless you do, and if you do and it goes up, tweet that I called it.

That does it for me this week. Next week we’ll try to decide if Shielded by Faith is Teysa or Vannifar. I bet you can already guess what I think.

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Unlocked Pro Trader: A Tweet Is Worth 1,000 Words

I’m supposed to write 2,000 words, though, so I’m only half done. What could this mean for us financially?

The Card

Persistent Petitioners is a card that has its rules text printed on it and since I posted a pic of the card, you can read all of the rules text. If you’re using a screen reader for some reason, that’s cool, thanks for patronizing our website. Persistent Petitioners taps for 1 to mill a player for 1, you can tap 4 untapped advisers to mill someone for 12 and, most importantly, there is no cap on the number of petitioners you can play in a deck. That rule has extended to EDH so you can play more than one copy, and lots of players do. The plan is to get a lot of these in play and mill everyone out, which can happen quickly. You only need 7 or 8 activations per player, fewer if they’re drawing greedily, and it’s easy to untap your side (though it was easier with Paradox Engine – R.I.P. in Peace, Doxy Boi).

While it makes sense that a card that needs to be purchased 30 cards at a time is selling well, I think it’s significant that no card sold better than this. 60 card casual players are helping this out a lot, it’s not just EDH, but I think it’s worth revisiting this card since I wrote about it when it was first spoiled. I’ll walk you through how I use EDHREC to look at what matters, while I’m at it since I basically show everyone how to do it one time and then never come back to it later and you could get lost if you haven’t read everything I’ve written the last 5 years. Let’s get going.

The $1.50 to $2 block seems a little cheap for this card. There aren’t collector boosters in this set which means everyone needed to come by their foils honestly. Since people foiling the deck would need to buy about 20 or 30 copies at a time, all of TCG Player’s inventory would be gone in about 2 decks’ worth if more people decided to pursue the deck, and at merely double the cost, it’s almost not worth it not to buy foil.

Petitioner is very difficult to reprint, the rest of the decks it’s in are usually pretty cheap and we have foils of similar cards to look at.

Rats has multiple foils printings versus just the one for Petitioners. Petitioners themselves might not be the worst buy right off the bat, especially in foil, which isn’t something I typically advocate. Let’s look at EDHREC for some more clues.

To get started, it’s as easy as typing the name of the card into the search bar.

That takes you to the page with some stats about the card. Since it’s not legendary, there’s no option to toggle between the card viewed as a commander or viewed as part of the 99, so just scroll down.

Below that is a list of all of the commanders that run the card. It’s ranked by percentage of elgibile decks that run it rather than raw number of inclusions, which I think is more instructive. 0.005% of Atraxa decks could run a card and have 10 instances of a card that’s in 100% of 9 decks. Sorting by percentage tells you the likelihood a deck runs a card, not which commander has more decks in the database. Both numbers matter, though, so note that while a higher percentage of Arcum Dagson decks run the card, it occurs more often in Grand Arbiter decks. Let’s look at both of those and Kami of the Crescent Moon for ideas.

Kami used to be much more expensive than it is and thanks to a Conspiracy printing, it’s more affordable. The advantages to Kami for your Petitioners deck is you draw more fodder and you subtly mill them by depleting their library in a way they don’t mind at first. Giving them stuff to beat you with isn’t terribly competitive, but this deck isn’t that.

Looking at Kami of the Crescent Moon first (as a commander, not as a card), we see that it got some new cards that pertain to milling. Folio is one of the best mill cards ever created and if that made someone look into how to mill in EDH, that would bring them to the same pages we’re on and working backwards, we can figure out what else they might buy.

One last trick – Let’s take another look at the top part of the page.

There are so many Petitioners builds of this deck, it’s listed under themes. Clicking that link takes you to a different page with cards specific to Petitioners builds. That’s going to be where we’ll find our specs.

Finally, let’s use our trick from a few weeks ago where we click the “layout button” on the right side,

change the lists to text and import the lists into a program to compare all 3 to see if there are common themes.

Arcane Denial3List A, List B, List C
Brainstorm3List A, List B, List C
Counterspell3List A, List B, List C
Dramatic Reversal3List A, List B, List C
Elixir of Immortality3List A, List B, List C
Fabricate3List A, List B, List C
Fellwar Stone3List A, List B, List C
Halimar Depths3List A, List B, List C
Intruder Alarm3List A, List B, List C
Lightning Greaves3List A, List B, List C
Mind Stone3List A, List B, List C
Mystical Tutor3List A, List B, List C
Negate3List A, List B, List C
Paradox Engine3List A, List B, List C
Persistent Petitioners3List A, List B, List C
Ponder3List A, List B, List C
Sol Ring3List A, List B, List C
Swan Song3List A, List B, List C
Thrumming Stone3List A, List B, List C

Paradox Engine is banned and some of these are staples, but some of these cards bear looking into.

Vannifar hype from a year ago is dying down but I am 100% a buyer on these when they bottom out and it appears they have. The overall trend is down but the price is fluctuating pretty rapidly. I like the other art better but as a spec, you can’t go wrong with this card.

Stone’s decline is another trend to watch. Petitioners made it spike last year and it’s unlikely the same card does it again but this spikes a lot as a result of a new card with the unlimited inclusion ability and it never goes back down to where it was. This is also a reprint candidate in a way Petitioners is not, not to mention Intruder Alarm.

Looking at cards in 2 of the 3 lists gives me more hits.

This is not a bulk rare and Standard clearly has nothing to do with it. Looping Petitioners or just playing every one you draw is an excellent source of “chip” mill.

This tanked after Petitioner hype died down but I think it could go back up as the result of something else. I doubt Petitioner makes this go up again, though, but it’s worth keeping track of unique, powerful, tribal effects.

Petitioner didn’t even cause the biggest spike in this card’s history so there’s no reason to think other cards couldn’t do it again. As this tanks, I’m ready to pounce.

All in all I think this analysis took me 15 minutes. Once you get better and don’t have to follow a guide to do it, you’ll be able to check quickly when you see an interesting tweet. I saw some cards that are likely to spike again as the result of a card with an ability like Petitioners’ being printed and having a gameplan ready for that rather than trying to figure out a whole decklist on the fly when you should be buying cards is what separates the quick from the dead. Be quick because you did the figuring out work ahead of time. That’s it for me. Until next year!

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Unlocked Pro Trader: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Theros


I don’t have a ton of price data to look at from the original Theros and it’s possible that such data would be fairly worthless to look at. I’m not going to say mtg Finance was in its infancy, because it wasn’t, but mtg Finance hadn’t figured out who to listen to and people ran out and bought a ton of copies of Mana Bloom because a YouTuber said it was a slam dunk. Those were weird times. I still hadn’t figured out that I only wanted to trade EDH cards with EDH players and I was still binder grinding the GP and SCG Open circuit. We’ve learned a lot since then.

Since mtg Finance was so weird back then, looking at what spiked on the basis of old Theros isn’t that instructive in my view. Unless you want to make money on Didgeridoo again, I don’t know of any lessons from then we can apply to now.

So where does that leave us? Shortest article in history? As much as I’d love to pull the ripcord and say “until next time” I think I’ll give you some value because that’s what I do. Besides, Theros wasn’t the only time Enchantments did stuff.

Image result for estrid mtg

Enter Estrid.

Printed in Commander 2018, Estrid was part of a Bant “Enchantments matter” deck that made a lot of cards pop and some never returned to normal. While new Theros is going to give us Black and Red cards and combinations thereof, we can still look at what happened in 2018 and extrapolate a bit. Is anything that returned to normal due a second spike? Are any of the Legendary creatures going to be any good? Are there current decks about to get a boost? I don’t know, but we do know what Estrid did, so let’s look at what Estrid did.

Enchanted Evening got a huge boost from sub -$5 to the stratosphere as a result of Estrid. A combination of the hype dying down and the printing in Mystery Boosters has attenuated the price a bit. I don’t know that it’s a good buy at its current price since it could still drop some as more Mystery Boosters are opened. It’s metrics aren’t bad, though.

This is mostly in Tuvasa, Hanna and Estrid decks. A card that combos with this, however, didn’t get reprinted and may be due a second spike.

Cleansing Meditation with Enchanted Evening is a global wipe that people have known about for a long time but never really decided to play until Estrid. Meditation was gettable in bulk boxes for a long time and now that every copy is concentrated in the hands of dealers, and the buy price is very close to retail, this is poised to spike again imo. It will only take one commander that lets you play this combo and with Enchanted Evening being more affordable than it has been since 2017, I could see a run on Cleansing Meditation. I’m not buying these now, per se, but I am thinking about how quickly this could hit $5 again under the right conditions.

I don’t have much of an opinion about this card. I don’t like it personally. I will not the 25% price discrepency between TCG Player and Card Kingdom. Why is a market site with competition charging more for a reserved list card than a site where there is no competition? Doesn’t Card Kingdom always charge more? If I had to guess, I would say Card Kingdom is also more nimble when a card is tanking. TCG Player sellers race to the bottom but the market price is the last sold price and if the card isn’t selling well at its current price because that price is too much, it’s harder to move the market price whereas one person at CK can say “Let’s firesale these suckers” which is what I suspect happened here. The crypto money that was injected into Reserved List cards dried up and people realized the good times wouldn’t last forever. I don’t know if the buy-in price is great right now but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the fire sales reverse course at least.

Replenish, on the other hand, fell off a cliff but is already showing signs of life on the basis of Theros coming back. Rector is a slow, hard-to-use tutor but Replenishj dumps 30 Constellation triggers on the stack for 4 mana and is a force to be reckoned with. This may not hit $70 again, but I don’t think it’s going to plummet like it has been, and Card Kingdom doesn’t think so, either.

Get these while they’re still half price on TCG Player. If a card is $10 everywhere but TCG Player, it’s a $10 card that just doesn’t know it yet. TCG Player’s prices are usually the last to know because people leave the 1 copy with $3.99 shipping dregs for last and it looks like the card isn’t sold out when it actually is for all intents and purposes. This is a buy for under $7 right now.

Here’s another pretty significant price discrepancy. I suspect the TCG Player number is on its way up.

This peaked in 2019, well after Estrid’s printing, and I think it could flirt with $20 on CK again, soon. This is not even remotely fair or fun to play against as a Magic card and that’s worth noting.

Everything in the Estrid deck is here and while I think Red and Black getting left out is not ideal, Red and Black was more concerned with Minotaurs than Constellations last time around. We could also see renewed interest in Bruna decks as well as Uril, The Miststalker and maybe even Tuvasa on the basis of good new auras.

Thanks for reading, everyone. I’ll be keeping my finger on the pulse of Theros happenings and letting everyone know what matters to me. Until next time!

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