Category Archives: Unlocked ProTrader

Unlocked Pro Trader: The Secret Handshake

Readers!

If you’re looking for a way to get a jump on the competition, might I recommend learning how to use your resources to their full potential? If you’re able to have access to information others don’t, you can make better informed decisions earlier, meaning you have an advantage of both time and a larger pool of available cards to try and get the best price from. By now, most people at least superficially know how to use EDHREC to look at the numbers and interpret them to the best of their ability. I see a lot more people using EDHREC data to reinforce their pre-conceived notions, which is not a thing I can easily teach them how not to do if they won’t read this column or listen to me filibuster for an hour on a podcast. If using EDHREC “wrong” is easier than using it “correctly” then hypothetically we all have an advantage if we figure out how to use it correctly. To that end, there is data on EDHREC right now that I bet more than a few of you are waiting on patiently. It’s there, it’s easy to access if you know you’re supposed to and I’ll show you exactly what it says and what I think it means. It’s never too late to figure out how to use a thing better, so let’s stop my meandering and focus in on the value, shall we?

NOW On EDHREC

Currently if you click on the “sets” dropdown, the latest set is Adventures in Forgotten Realms, but not the EDH precons. However, if you click on “All Sets” at the top (something that took me a while to figure out), the page it takes you to is maybe a little bit different…

Nope! Same thing here. Too bad, I was going to look and see what people are putting in the EDH precons to see if there were any specs there, but if there’s no data, there’s no data. OK, that’s it for me this week, everyone! Join me next week for another exciting article full of specs and edutainment.

You’re Still Here?

OK, I kind of promised I’d show you some harder-to-find data and if you insist, I’ll follow through. You see, while the pages for the sets are completed, EDHREC is scraping data for every deck we can find and sometimes that data doesn’t have a page built for it. So where does it go? Well, as it turns out, we build the pages for each commander before we build the overall page for the precon set because that’s easier to do as soon as the card is spoiled and we don’t know how the page will be organized. So the data has been scraped and pages built for each commander. So how do we get there?

The search bar at the top right part of the page.

Yes, it’s obvious, really, but how many people opened up EDHREC looking for the precon decks, didn’t find them, and closed the tab? Lots. If you can perservere where they gave up, you can get access to the information they wanted sometimes days or even weeks ahead of them. You will have to know the names of the commanders and check manually, but there are worse inconveniences to endure for access to complete data. Type in Galea or let me just link the page for you.

We did it! We are magically transported to the page. So is there anything juicy in this deck? Let’s explore together.

Hard to believe this ever flirted with $5. You see it now and think “Yeah, $10 is about right” and being about right now means it might not be the best time to buy in. It’s never hitting $32 again, and you’d need it to hit at least $20 to be glad you bought in now. I think $20 is actually doable if it dodges reprints. Let’s not forget to check the same place I’m getting the commanders’ names from to see if Hammer is in the deck before we make any proclamations about future reprints, though, shall we?

It’s not in there. I don’t think this is the least risky bet of all time, but I think hitting $20 is reasonable. Also, there is only one foil printing of hammer, so let’s look at that.

I… would not have predicted this shape. OK. So the buylist is about to converge with retail on the only foil version of a card that is going to be a shoo-in with upgraded copies of the precon about to release. I’m going to call this a pick-up officially. Again, I don’t know anything about foils so make up your own mind, but, come on. Look at that graph. This trend can’t continue.

I am going to be honest, I’m surprised Shikari recovered. It was buried in a value-dense cat precon and seemed like another bulk rare that got dealt a deathblow. Now it’s half of its pre-reprint price and basically to make money buying now, it would have to flirt with $9 again. We may have missed the boat on this one and we’ll have to use this as a data point when we examine precon reprintings and which cards can recover in a future installment.

The one juicy opportunity I see here is Counterbalance, a card currently plummenting and currently in one of every five Galea decks in the database. I think the supply is low enough that EDH can pick up the slack.

This is sort of an ugly wedge of the page to show off, but I did it for Galea and thought I might as well keep it up. Here’s Vrondiss’ page.

I am going to come 100% clean here – when the original Ixalan dino hype around this card died down and the card plummeted sub-$2, I sort of stopped paying attention. This is baseline at the pre-plummet price and it’s on its way up. This is due a second spike and without the cheap copies everyone hoovered up last time it popped, the supply is in the hands of dealers and it’s going to flirt with $10. Do we have time to make money?

Yes? Sure? If Citadel, a card in one deck that was 6 months and 12 expansion sets ago can maintain value, Pyrohemia, a second spiker, is in great shape.

Dragon’s Hoard is in the deck and is currently solidly $5 on Card Kingdom. If Hoard goes to bulk, do we see a return buying bulk copies of a card that quintupled in a 2 year period? I don’t hate it when it tanks, and M19 will have the only foil copies, something not getting reprinted.

The foil isn’t much more than the non-foil, maybe both deserve a look.

Here is Sefris’ page on EDHREC, although I’m sure you could find it yourself by now, right?

There is basically nothing I could find here. It’s all pretty standard reanimator stuff that’s evergreen good and then new cards, a lot of which are in the precon, to help you dungeon crawl. I think the dungeon thing is cool and a subgame that gets you value only you have access to is fine. I’ll likely build Sefris and keep the deck together, but I don’t see opportunity here.

Can you find Proper on your own? I’m sure by now you can – can you tell I’m weaning you off of my help? You might have attributed it to laziness or forgetfulness on my part, but, no, I wrote a whole paragraph which took longer than linking would have. I just want to teach you to fish.

Old? Low supply? Popped already so the dealers have most of the copies? Included in a majority of the registered copies of a new deck that hasn’t come out yet? Yeah, this hits all of the beats I like to see. I’m going to call this a buy, especially since it’s like $2 lower than the price it already established it was capable of hitting. The supply here is dwindling and I like it very much. I’m much more bearish on the $30 foils, but you knew that.

It seems like TCG Player is lagging behind and currently has robbers for half of what CK has them for. Take advantage.

Or kick it old school and save even more, provided you find enough underpriced cards in those sellers’ inventories to justify what is likely $10 for shipping.

Of everything we came across today, I like Uba Mask the most, but we’re not done delving into these decks. There is still the matter of the other decks possible from the precon, built around the new Legendary creatures in the decks. There isn’t a ton of data on those or time for me to write about it this week, but since no one will know how to access the lists except you, it can wait. That does it for me, until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Venture Into THe Dungeon

Readers!

This week, confronted with a set that has a lot of commanders but none that do anything new, I’m a bit stuck. In the past for this series, we have looked at how new commanders will make older cards go up in price as a new archetype makes previously less played cards played more. I thought I would have my work cut out for me, frankly, since there are like 900 new commanders in this set and they’ll all require new, unique builds with tons of opportunities to speculate. Is that really the case?

Ur-Dragon, Sen Triplets, Griselbrand, Thrasios, Tolsimir Wolfblood, Edric… None of this is new. Modern Horizons two gave us a bunch of tribal commanders so I guess buy Coat of Arms?

I think we’re going to have to really nitpick to find some specs here. I will do it because I want to, but I don’t think we can do a whole article about one commander anymore. Wizards doesn’t have original ideas for new commanders but they also want to make 10 times as many as they used to before, so of course they’re going to just recycle ideas, or make them hyper set-specific.

Why did 2 people build this deck? Are there more out there that EDHREC hasn’t scraped yet? One of these decks is probably Brian Canada, but who is the other lunatic?

The point is, we could look at what goes into a Hama Pashar deck, but even if there were hundreds of them, a lot of the cards involved will be in the D and D set and nowhere else, so anything older isn’t really going to pop as a result of people building it.

Instead of doing a deep dive on Tiamat (look at the Ur-Dragon page, it’s the same deck) or even Xanathar (everyone is bafflingly building a mill deck, I guess to optimize what one card you get?), I think I’m going to do a real shallow strafing run through everything to get the big hits out of the way first. We can get granular on Osawld Fiddlebender later, but I’d hate to make you wait 2 weeks for me to even mention something obvious that already popped while we were struggling to find anything to talk about for commanders with more decks. Let’s do a quick hits article and call it a day – I’m sure I’ll find enough that you care about.

It’s Birthing Pod for artifacts. While that means some obvious stuff will get played in this deck, some stuff that isn’t obvious goes in, too, and I think there is money to be made.

Doing this for years has taught me to notice when a card costs more on TCG Player than on Card Kingdom out of the corner of my eye and focus on the card before I even realize why I’m doing it. Not every instance checks out based on how the prices can sometimes be reported and not every instance shows you an opportunity to make money, but the cheaper version on CK is the foil from The List and that card is like $9 on TCG Player, so someone is wrong. CK should never be cheaper than TCG Player and when they are, something is going to get corrected.

I wish I had noticed the trend sooner. This is currently the third most expensive card in Nemesis after Moggcatcher and Kor Haven. This is worth less than Kor Haven, a card with multiple printings (not that this doesn’t have an FTV printing) that basically used to see EDH play. This shouldn’t be worth less than Kor Haven. It would have been nice to pay $2 on these, but I think these are fine at 8.

Wish I had gotten some foils of these before they hit $25. I think Liquimetal Coating was a card that was underplayed for reasons that included just one copy stranded somewhere in your deck wasn’t enough to bother building around. With the addition of Liquimetal Torque, you have twice as many copies, and you have a commander like Oswald that rewards you for playing them like no commander before. That’s a recipe for this hitting a few bucks.

Minsc, Beloved Ranger

It seems like there is a consensus on what the best creature to use Minsc’s ability on will be.

Two out of every three Minscketeers agrees- this is a Hulk deck. Hulk is a card not a ton of people like very much but it’s not illegal and people are going to jump at another chance for it to be relevant. Being able to sac this for 0 mana is solid.

Erstwhile $40 card dips to $21 and is beginning to show signs of recovery? I’m listening…

Erstwhile $9 foil with only 1 foil version over its 3 printings is relevant again? I’m listening. This didn’t drop to 0 on CK, they sold out of NM foil copies. CK doesn’t report the price of lower-than-NM conditions when NM sells out, so you need to check the site to make sure there are MP and worse copies available (there are) but this is selling out at $4 and that makes me think it could be $9 again with some help. Printing non-foil versions makes the foil better, not worse.

Gretchen Titchwillow

This is basically Thrasios, so “put a Training Grounds in the deck” isn’t new advice, but Training Grounds has been put on “The List” and maybe we should look at its graph.

Can you show me on the graph where this was added to The List and copies started becoming available? Gretchen won’t be the reason Training Grounds soon hits $50, but it did make us look up the price and now we’re convinced it will.

These commanders don’t represent a ton of new ground being broken in EDH. It’s possible that’s not really a thing anymore, though. Re-introducing an old mechanic in an EDH deck will likely move the needle on one or two specific cards from a specific block, but have the good old days of the printing of Teysa Karlov making people realize Massacre Wurm is broken passed us by? I don’t know, but I do know that I’ll be paying attention so you don’t have to. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: f-icien-c

Readers!

When I first started out writing mtg finance articles, I was checking weekend results on Monday or Tuesday and making predictions based on those results during the week so people could pick those cards up the following weekend before FNM. Gradually, specs started selling out before Monday, then before Sunday, then within an hour of showing up on camera. In a lot of ways, I was lucky I pivoted to non-tournament formats to do my financing because Covid could have put a real wrinkle in my plans. I pivoted not because I saw Covid and WotC’s abandonment of tournament play as an inevitability (I still don’t believe it) but rather because I had to. Mtg Finance, once a very inefficient system had become a very efficient submarket and telling people how to be more efficient at it for money made it get more efficient faster. I say GOOD.

Efficiency is a good thing because inefficiency is just wasted potential. If the market is going to get faster at making cheap copies disappear, we should get more efficient at identifying what’s going to go up before anyone else. Luckily, with EDHREC, I’ve been able to identify the cards that take the longest to start to sell but which sell the most sustainably and give you the longest possible time to get out of them before they tail off – EDH cards.

We don’t have months for the EDH cards to go up like we used to and we’ve had to get a bit more efficient. Luckily, EDHREC, a site which used to wait until the whole set was previewed to build the pages for new sets has decided to scrape the sets every night starting when deck sites start getting decks registered, which means we have days, maybe weeks we didn’t have before. As of Tuesday, basically the second day of previews starting in earnest, we have a lot going on.

It’s not a ton, but it’s more than we used to have 2 days into preview week. 66 Tiamat decks is a lot, but I’m even more impressed that we have 14 Drizzt decks already. Will any of this matter? Maybe, maybe not. I’m going to take a look at these lists (even Nadaar) earlier than I used to and we can see if anything here will matter or not. I feel like Tiamat is as basic Dragon deck that could have any 5 color Dragon at the helm, which isn’t worthless, exactly, but isn’t revolutionary. So let’s start out by confirming that.

Tiamat

Just Dargons here, Dargons as far as the eye can see. That tracks. I didn’t really expect much innovation here – Tiamat doesn’t really have a “new” ability as far as 5 color dragon lords are concerned, so we’re basically an Ur-Dragon deck with a new Commander. That sucks. That said, it’s possible some of the Dragon tribal stuff could bump, but not like it did when a tribal EDH precon set was announced. I’ll keep looking, but Drizzt may be a better use of our time. Let’s enter the next part of the dungeon or whatever the hell that is.

What’s happening right now isn’t Tiamat’s fault. It’s not even 66 builders’ fault. It’s just that Tiamat, for all of its power and prestige, isn’t templated to do anything new. I mean, if we’re going to complain about that, we could complain about every Legendary creature in Modern Horizons 2 beside Chatterfang which barely roped in Saprolings in its Squirrely web (I’m mixing metaphors, I don’t think Squirrels weave webs, calm down). This isn’t a complaining about how exciting Legendary creatures are article, and neither is my article on Coolstuff because I want another preview card someday, so let’s poke around a bit more and call it a day.

Look, I’m calling it. This is basically the list of cards for Ur-Dragon. You think that stuff could go back up? Buy it all, I guess. I’m not telling you it won’t, I’m telling you I’m not excited. I think Drizzt might be more exciting.

Drizzt

OK! This I can deal with.

Barring another reprint, which I don’t think will be soon, Selvala will flirt with $30 again. Jumpstart and Conspiracy 2: Conspiratorial Boogaloo are both fairly low-supply sets and I think Selvala is a pretty good card. How good?

QUITE good. Is Drizzt going to be what pushes this up? No, but it won’t hurt, and digging into commanders makes me find unrelated gems all the time. It’s why all of us should monkey around on EDHREC every day for like 15 minutes.

Cards like Force of Savagery are exactly what we’re hoping to find when we go plumbing the depths of these new decks. It’s very good with Drizzt specifically, not great anywhere else and a card no one cares about. It will take time for the copies to get ferreted out of bulk bins and binders and with no easy way for stores to restock, the copies in the market now are the copies that set the price. This has the potential to get sold out fast and by the time the new copies come in to calm the price down, hopefully you sold into the spike. If there is a spike, in order to sell into it, you need to buy now. I think this is primed for it. This basically puts 5 +1/+1 counters on Drizzt for 3 mana and since it’s a creature, it’s fairly easy to bring back. It’s possible Anthems can also make this like a 12/4 which is cool in EDH if you have equipment to throw on it. In general, I wouldn’t be a ton more excited about a 3 mana 12/4 than I would, say, Woolly Thoctar, a card I’d never play in EDH, but Force has some possible additional utility. This seems like a slam dunk. I don’t mess with foils, but foil people should know this is $10 entirely on the basis of scarcity and that price won’t go down once the hubbub around this card’s utility in a deck people may or may not build dies down.

They say not to grab a falling knife, but this is a falling knife I’d keep my eyes on and grab as soon as it… bounces? And I’m not saying I wouldn’t keep my eye on basically any falling knife… look, I’m done with this bit already but this card is good and when the price stops going down, I’m into grabbing some.

Bonders’ Enclave is a good card and I wish I’d bought way more copies way sooner, but I blew all of that money on full art triomes.

No regrets; I’ll take a double up, but Enclave is up 5x over the same period. I’m starting to think I should be investing in cheaper real estate in the future.

Bruenor

Bruenor is to RW Equipment decks what Tiamat is to dragons.

1 deck isn’t enough data for Nadaar, and I’m not really excited about a creature that hinges on a set-specific ability that likely won’t get any support in the future, though I think the dungeon subgame is pretty sweet. We had a few other Legendary creatures spoiled today and I’ll hit you with some picks next week. For now, really look closely at the stuff in Drizzt because I think it has the most potential. I’ll be back next week with more picks, but in the mean time, don’t grab any falling knives. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: A Peek at the Peak

Readers!

You no more need me to tell you that we should be buying cards at peak supply than you need be told to buy low and sell high. I won’t insult your intelligence by wasting ink explaining what peak supply is, when it is, or why it matters. As much as I am tempted to use the limited space above the fold I have to fill, I think I’ll use that space more productively. You all get it, prices are best when there is the most competition to be the cheapest seller. I have some opinions about what the best targets are when that happens and if you don’t think about Magic exactly like I do, I might have some ideas you hadn’t considered. I’m using data to back my conclusions as always, and I think Modern Horizons 2 has some parallels from Modern Horizons 1 we can reference. In short, let’s go into peak supply week with a plan and make some money, shall we?

Right off the bat, I’m struck by a few things I did not expect. I made it a point to say early and often in this series that I don’t plan to argue with data, and while I’m not going to argue with data, maybe I will make that one high pitched noise that sounds like the beginning of a word drawn out that sort of indicates “yeahh…..not so sure about that one…” at a few of these. Here’s why I’m going to make that noise at all.

  1. It doesn’t actually matter that much if I’m wrong. If you think you’ll play the card, buy it regardless of what I think about it as a spec and if you were going to spec on it and don’t because I talked you out of it, you spent that money elsewhere so you made money with that money anyway.
  2. I think it’s worthwhile to express my personal opinion on the record about certain cards so if I am wrong about cards like it a lot, either I’ll figure out bias may be impacting my decisions.
  3. This is my column.

So, looking at the initial (albeit sorted by percentage of inclusions, which matters but not necessarily in a bad way) data, I am making the “dunno about that” noise at a card very high on the list.

I think one of the reasons he may be a bit over-represented as a function of percentage inclusions is that not a lot of the decks being built since this set became legal are artifact-based, but all of the white ones are. That said, I don’t really care if this is over-represented or not, I guess. This has actually ticked up a buck or two since Friday while most things are tanking and I am not sure if that’s a good sign or a bad one. I don’t know if it’s a good buy at its current price and I don’t know if the amount it’s played in EDH is going to fall of long-term and I don’t know if Modern can pick up the slack. There are too many unknowns for me. Gun to my head, I’m staying away but there is no gun to any of our heads, so maybe we should just call an audible here and move on to more obvious money.

This is a $4 foil and I predict this will be an $8 or so non-foil in the future and that’s all I really have to say about that. With Collector booster boxes detroying the price of a lot of the rares, the fact that you get more rares than uncommons in your average collector booster might make these foils retain some value. There are no etched foils, no prerelease stamp foils, no sketch card version, just this and the foil. I like those odds. This isn’t a bad Tireless Tracker, it’s a good Lotus Cobra and I think people are catching on. I DO like this at its current price and predict it will go down more, at which point I feel OK pulling the trigger on 4 times as many copies as I need for my decks, which is a lot of copies to begin with.

This is getting a lot less attention than I had anticipated. Having a lot of decks where my Eternal Witness getting milled stymied its usefulness as an out, I am excited by this card but the format isn’t there yet. I think at its current price, the odds that it tanks more are far less than the odds it gets picked up either when people come around or when something gets printed that uses this. $2 for a foil sketch version or set foil seems OK but I bet it drops more in the near term and I’m watching to see if it does.

This card is the real deal. Urborg is good with Cabal Coffers. Yavimaya is good with Knight of the Reliquary, Quirion Ranger, Llanowar Druid, Patron of the Orochi, etc. If this gets played at all in Modern, its price is headed for the moon. Let’s compare to Urborg, again, a worse card.

Does this make you like Yavimaya under $20? It does me. Extended Art looks better, etched looks worse. In fact, I am avoiding all etched foils until it makes no sense not to ignore them for my decks. People really hate them and I don’t blame them, and prices are tanking accordingly. On Thursday, an etched foil Misty was 130 and a retro foil was 150. Today the etched foil is 65. Gross. Buy Yavimaya, and focus on the Extended Art imo.

I am torn, here. Damn is the real deal but it also goes in way fewer decks than people might think. The decks that will play this already have access to a billion wraths and they’re annoying to play and to play against. While Damn is very good, it’s also a bit of a solution with no problem. Does that limit is adoption more than it is already limited? I don’t think so, but I also think the demand is a bit overstated. That said, I wouldn’t mind a control player just killing a problem creature rather than killing every creature when they draw a wrath and need to kill something to stay alive, so maybe I should be encouraging more decks to run this.

It won’t be today, but at some point, people will realize that this gets played in more than just Squirrel decks and it’s quite good. It’s a $1 foil and the sketch foil (which sucks) is even cheaper, but for good reason. I might get a little aggressive on these when they get a little cheaper.

You get about 5 bridges per collector booster box which means you get 0.5 Rustvale or Silverbluff Bridges per box. That’s a highish supply, but is it high enough to keep the foils under a buck? I am not so sure. The RW and UR ones are the only targets, imo, but I like them around $0.50 in the long term.

I think this is a bad Draugr Necromancer but I have been mostly keeping that opinion to myself. I am not going to argue with data today, so let me say that this is in a lot of decks, a lot of those decks are Chatterfang which is the most popular commander and people didn’t read the text on Draugr Necromancer while they did read the text on this card and would rather sac their leyline of the void to not have to pay the mana cost of a card than keep their leyline and pay the mana cost on those cards. Are they wrong? Am I? I don’t know, but I do know this is played a ton. So how many rares from Modern Horizons 1 would have been a good week 1 buy at $15? Just Prismatic Vista and Fiery Islet, I think.

I am not saying don’t get Voidwalker at $15 or even at $10, I’m saying there isn’t much data to support doing one thing or the other and I’m parking money elsewhere.

What card do we compare this to? Is this better or worse than Faeburrow Elder? It seems really situational, doesn’t it? Faeburrow can’t go in non-white decks and maxes out at 5 mana while this can’t get bigger, and needs you to run a lot of enchantments.

I thought Faeburrow was a slam dunk at $1 and while it’s doubled since then, it wasn’t quite a slam dunk, either. I think Weaver is much more narrow but also has a higher ceiling. I also watched Faaeburrow go from $5 to $1 then take a year to get back to $2, so either way I think we wait out Sanctum Weaver for as long as we can.

I think EDH is going to impact the prices in this set a lot and I also think with a few exceptions, Modern and EDH are focusing on very different cards with little overlap. EDH players don’t seem to care about Grief or Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar as much as Modern players do, although Ragavan and Urza’s Saga are great in both. Pick 10 cards to pay attention to, watch their prices and when they stop being in freefall and bounce a bit, leverage your format knowledge and make some money. It took Hexdrinker and Pyromancer over a year to get to where we thought they should be, so be patient. Until next time!