Category Archives: Unlocked ProTrader

Unlocked Pro Trader: Movie Day

Readers!

Remember in school when your teacher had what you realized years later was a hangover and they wheeled the TV on a cart into the classroom so you could watch a movie while they put their head down, or am I dating myself? This time of the year feels like a blowoff time of year. I’m not hung over, dear reader, and I’m not feeling lazy despite the weather outside being frightful and de dum de dum delightful or however the song goes. No, I maintain that what I am going to do today is provide you with an article that is DENSE with picks and light on some of the.. you know, structure of an article. Remember when I wrote a 20,000 word article? This will be kind of like that one.

In order to set up an article where I mostly post pictures, I’ll need to explain what I am doing before I do it. Simply, I’m going to find cards that cost more on TCG Player than they do on Card Kingdom. That sounds simple, but why am I doing it? Well, and this is going to sound a little patronizing because 99% of you know this but I write for everyone, Card Kingdom charges more than TCG Player. They should. TCG Player is a marketplace where sellers compete with each other to have the lowest price possible and that is rarely going to settle higher than a well-known site with great customer service* (don’t scroll to the bottom, I don’t plan to put a footnote) is charging. Card Kingdom can and does charge more than TCG Player, because of course they do. When they don’t? Well, when they don’t, something is wrong.

Literally all I am going to do for this article is look on EDHREC until I see a card where the Card Kingdom number is smaller than the TCG Player number. When I find such a case, I’ll go to both sites to make sure the card is in stock (a card being out of stock on one site and moving on the other causes a lot of these discrepancies) and if both sites have the card in stock, I’ll talk about if I think it means we should be the card on either site or both. That’s it. It’s going to be real easy but it’s a lot of work for me. Just watch Stand and Deliver because this is either Math class or Spanish class and I’m going to rest my eyes for a bit.

Sorry! One last caveat – cards under like $2 or $3 are going to be confounded by shipping costs. TCG Player sometimes has the shipping cost built into the price, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s confusing and I would just as soon avoid it. Anyway, let’s do the thing already.

Wow, first set I looked at has one. This is indeed cheaper on Card Kingdom, though not by much, and shipping can explain a bit of it. That said, the cheapest NM copy on TCG Player is like $4.

What’s more, supply is low, at least for individual printings. That said, I don’t think this is that compelling or driven by any kind of demand. I think from now on, I’ll get more quality hits if we recalibrate to $5 or more and cards with fewer than a gazillion printings. Mycoloth is a great EDH card and it likely recovers from this reprinting, but there will be another. There is always another reprinting for this card.

With new parameters in mind, the search continues.

EDH didn’t do this, but also, how do you reprint these cards outside of an event deck? These prices are legit and I suspect both are on their way to $10 as paper Modern picks back up. Modern Horizons 2 gave us some more Cascade stuff and the DFC lands haven’t been legal in paper modern yet. If I could classify anything as a “Slam Dunk” I’d start here. Not EDH picks, but I discovered them using an EDH method so I’ll take credit.

There are multiple versions so I had to check all of them out, but it’s legit. Both Coolstuff and Card Kingdom are selling all versions of this card cheaper than the cheapest NM copy of the same version on TCG Player.

Another thing to check for is a discrepancy so large that while it’s still cheaper on TCG Player, it may be arbable on CK’s buylist. They’re paying $8.50 in credit here, which is not an arbitrage opportunity, but it’s close. Why is CK buying this for close to retail? Well, because they always sell it for $14. It makes the $9 copies look pretty good.

One thing to check is how many listings are on TCG Player. In this case, there are 4 printings so there are far too many copies, but each individual copy has fewer than 80 listings. There won’t be a run on these, but why is TCG Player’s supply so low if the EDH site can’t move these for $6? I think TCG Player is suffering from people not seeing enough demand to bother racing to the bottom on these, but that will change if they do another mono-colored EDH set.

Commander 2016 is $10 on CK, not $9, but the cheapest of any printing on TCG Player is $13. Is that because it’s moving well on TCG Player?

Nope!

Not sure what’s going on here, but I’m staying away based on the TCG graph.

The cheap version on CK is the “The List” version, so what is TCG Player selling that version for? There’s no way to know, because TCG Player doesn’t have a separate entry for The List versions. All I know is the cheapest NM copy is $9.50 for the Invasion version. The price is flat here on TCG Player so it’s unlikely the discrepancy is TCG Player charging more over time – it’s likely that CK hates cards from The List and so do buyers.

I know it’s the opposite of what we’re doing here, but I love this card under $15 right now.

One more thing you can train your eye to do is to notice when Coolstuff Inc is the cheapest. If they’re suspiciously cheap, that means they sold out but their API is still sending out the pre-sellout price. That means the cheap copies are getting bought out. This card is on its way to $10. Coolstuff Inc can be a canary in the coalmine sometimes, so watch for empty inventory on that site.

That does it for me this week! Join me next week where I’ll be trying desperately to find a new topic so I don’t have to write the lazy “Which Samurai could go up because we saw a Kamigawa Cyberpunk image of a Samurai on a motorcycle?” article I really don’t want to write. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Controlling For Supply

Readers!

Today I would like to tell the tale of two cards. These two cards are different prices, most two cards are different prices. The thing is, the supply on the cards is identical. We know it is because both cards are in a preconstructed deck and both were printed exactly once. Can we use these two cards to predict future cards that could go up? That’s what we’re here to find out!

This is about precon cards specifically and while precons are in huge supply, even cards printed this year are doing quite well.

EDHREC data is best when you’re comparing two cards to each other. I bristle when people try to establish arbitrary thresholds like “more or fewer than 10,000 decks” etc. I don’t think it is that instructive to set those levels, instead, I think comparing how much cards are used (provided we can control for them being used in other formats, which would skew things a lot) is much more instructive. If two cards have the same number of copies and one costs more but is used less, something will have to give, usually the price. There are lots of reasons why prices would not be exactly the same initially, but after the initial price makes way for the demand-based-price, you would expect cards that are played more to be worth more. There literally isn’t a simpler financial proposition than that – more demand and same supply equals higher price.

What’s that? Which two cards inspired this article? I’m so glad to pretend you asked. Here are two cards with the same supply but their prices, and their use in EDH are very different.

It looks like the cards are played the exact same amount, at least in Lathril . Why do I mention Lathril, by the way?

This is kind of surprising to me. Is it because of a bunch of new cards that made people update their list?

I mean, I’ll let you decide if Deathcap Glade and Unnatural Growth are enough of an impetus for people to update their Lathril lists this much. The precon has a bit of a deathtouch subtheme, so maybe Saryth makes sense. OK, Saryth makes a LOT of sense because it can untap a Gaea’s Cradle or a Priest of Titania. But Dig Up isn’t making people log onto archidekt. So what gives?

I think people just might like building Elves.

If that’s the case, and it probably is, it stands to reason that cards that are in the Lathril precon will get built alongside Lathril. It stands to reason that a card played more in Lathril will be worth more money. So why the price discrepancy?

Elderfang Venom is played more than Pact in Lathril but is and always has been worth less. Pact basically went from “overlooked” to “bought out” and Coolstuff’s price when it went out of stock confirms that Pact was worth 3 times as much before it was bought out than Elderfang Venom was, despite us getting a few Deathtouch matters commanders this year.

The next thing to check is how much the cards are played across the format. Also, did you notice my EDHREC screenshots are in Dark Mode, now? Nice, right? Just one of the many improvements EDRHEC is rolling out.

OK, so Pact is played in fewer than twice as many decks but it was 3 times as much before it sold out and will likely be worth 40 times as much.

If I had to guess, I’d say there are a few things going on here. First of all, the buyout really obscures things a bit. As soon as it was targeted and bought, the price ratio became worthless. We really have a case of “popped” versus “hasn’t popped”(yet?) and we can try to surmise why.

One issue for Elderfang Venom is that it’s two colors. What could be more Deathtouch then Golgari? Well, there’s a problem. Remember all of the Deathtouch commanders I mentioned? The ones that came out this year, at the same time or after this precon?

Fynn, the Fangbearer

Here’s one.

Saryth, the Viper's Fang

Here’s the other. Now, plenty of good “Deathtouch” tribal decks are possible – look at the themes page on EDHREC.

But the total number of decks here, 2,127 decks, pales in comparison to the other number – 12,619 – the number of Elf tribal decks. Yes, not all of them can use Black, the same way not all Deathtouch decks can use Black.

But we are talking about a 6-fold difference in potential. Pact being bought out isn’t based on how much it’s played, it’s based on how much it could be played. Also, have you noticed? Pact of the Serpent isn’t an Elf card.

Not only are not all of the decks it’s played in Elf decks, there is new demand.

Looking at 2 cards and seeing they’re both in the same precon, played almost an identical amount in that deck and are both playable outside of that deck is only doing half of the work you need to do. Someone sniffed out Pact of the Serpent showing up in more Tribal decks than just Elves and the market responded.

I mentioned seeing if we can learn anything – are there are any cards I think are underpriced based on the same kind of analysis? Let’s see.

I think how likely people are to overlook this card because it has foretell is going to soon be overshadowed by the realization that this card is very difficult to reprint because it has foretell. While this isn’t as playable in as many decks as Pact, this is a solid gainer that has a great effect, especially for 1W and which is sneakily getting included more than anyone might think. If you think a card that can go in any Black tribal deck has broad appeal, imagine a card that can go in any White deck that has creatures it wants to not die.

Not the 25% Pact got, but we don’t need C.I. to hit $10 to make money buying in at a buck.

There is no other way to say it – this card is underpriced.

If CK has this at $8.50, then they’re selling this for $8.50. Why is TCG Player half that? IS it half that?

It IS.

What’s more, TCGPlayer finally has a graph feature so we can check the trend.

So this is a slam dunk, right? Thought so.

Tl;dr – buy Monologue Tax, something I should have to pay for farting out 2,000 words just to come to this conclusion. Well, good bye! Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: I’m addicted to You

Don’t you know that you’re Toxril?

That’s right, readers, Britney Spears has been busted loose from her oppressive conservatorship, proving to the 1.3 million Americans in such arrangements that escape is possible if you have worldwide fame, millions of dollars and tons of public support, you can be free of your conservatorship after a 13 year legal battle. You know what else has busted loose? All of these specs! What, you needed a better segue than that? The good stuff is below the fold.

Still above the fold, though, is the slug of the hour. Toxril is the second-most-built new Crimson Vow commander and I think that’s pretty significant. I’d love to do #1 but considering that’s Runo and we did that last week, let’s move on, shall we?

Toxrill, the Corrosive

This card is redefining “Group Slug” by taking down all of their creatures. However, Toxril offers 0 synergy with -1/-1 counters strategies from the past, making it the perfect mix of familiar gameplay and new cards. If we can’t use Blowfly Infestation or Nest of Scarabs as effectively, which cards take their place on the top of the high synergy list? The answer may surprise you. Also, it may not. I have no idea what surprises people these days.

There is some good stuff here. It’s a nice mix of cards that have been used before in decks that care about proliferation and some novel tech. Let’s look at the novel stuff because it likely has the most room to grow.

Having already flirted with a $4 price tag, Hunted Phantasm is nicely posed to do some work as a result of Toxril. It’s a shoo-in inclusion in the deck, copies are concentrated in the hands of dealers a bit since it spiked last year (though the market is nowhere near as efficient at that as it used to be) and the same market forces that kept copies out of the hands of dealers are keeping them off of TCG Player meaning it could pop overnight. There are 145 listings on TCG Player for around $2, which sucks, but we could see some real gains if that wall is surmounted. There are fewer listings on other sites, but no one notices if other sites, even Card Kingdom, sell out of TCG Player still has a grip of them, even if it’s just damaged and foreign language copies. I like this at $1.50 if it can get to $4 again, but it doesn’t seem like people are as aware of this as they are “obvious” cards.

If there might be too many copies on TCG Player, there are certainly too many copies of Clackbridge Troll. I like the extended art more, but there is just so much volume and no demand from anywhere else. Not all of these specs are equal – look at Tombstone Stairwell and how much it went up because it’s a 20th century Reserved List card. A Throne non-mythic just can’t be expected to behave the same way.

If you like lower supply, foils of Polymorphist’s Jest are selling out everywhere. It’s a goofy card with no demand anywhere else and the price has done some very goofy things in the past, but it seems to be moving, based on Toxril or not.

Toxril was merely the first time anyone paid attention to Phantasm, but Horror has been out here doing work quietly for years. We are seeing a sharp price uptick – lower supply, higher ceiling and more demand elsewhere could push Horror up and make it an even better spec than Phantasm. With only 53 listings, this seems juicier. So why did I get to it later that Phantasm? Well, this isn’t a High Synergy card because it’s played elsewhere. High Synergy cards take effort and demand to get going, but pop hard because they go from no demand to no supply and that really upends everyone’s price expectations. Cards played elsewhere are less dependent on a huge increase predicated on a new deck but are less likely to be a “bust” because they have support in other areas. I like both of these as specs, but the risk profile is very different for each.

Where does a card like this end up? Well, let’s try and extrapolate. Here is what happened to a card from the same set that has 3 times as many copies out there.

This was based on expected demand from Yurlok. Did Yurlok get played?

Kinda? Here is its rank in its set.

If Toxril continues as it is, it could be in about 1.5 times as many decks relative to Yurlok in Crimson Vow. Will we see more total decks from Vow than from Commander Legends? Doubtful, but we are comparing a rare to an Uncommon that maintained its value despite not seeing play outside of this one deck, basically. Can Infernal Genesis break a dollar? It’s not as good as Citadel, not as obvious, not as played. All that said, it’s old and I just told people about it. I think a price correction is likely, but I assume everyone builds with the same information as I do.

Toxril doesn’t really synergize great with cards like Blowfly Infestation, but cards like Contagion Engine are still solid, and will always be solid.

With some help from The List and from everyone in the world having a Atraxa list and moving on, the price of Contagion Engine is now currently between its historic low and its historic high. The additional copies aren’t ideal, but they haven’t slowed down other promising cards. Demand is demand and Contagion Engine is almost surely a buy under $10, even for The List copies. If Toxril doesn’t do it, something else will, and the The List reprinting reduces its reprint risk, though it doesn’t eliminate it.

There are a lot of other great Toxril cards I may have missed – don’t feel intimidated by me not mentioning a card. Hit me up in the comments or, if you’re a Pro Trader, in Discord. Let’s talk through your thought process. That does it for me, readers. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Couldn’t think of a Runo Pun

I really tried. I thought about the Elliot Page movie “Juno,” or Runo the red-nosed Zombie Cleric, or Runo nothing Jon Snow – I probably spent two hours and 45 minutes trying to come up with a good pun for the title of this article so you’d know that I am writing about Runo and also that I am very funny and clever. Disarmed by my wordsmithery, you’d immediately drop any pretense of skepticism and follow my finance advice to the letter. I’m sad to report that I wish I’d spent that time teaching my daughter to read instead and that I’m still no closer to pulling off a decent pun title. I hope that’s not a problem because I’ll be honest, I’m feeling some pretty bad writer’s block, but just about puns. You see, this week I aim to let my specs do the talking for me. It’s an installment of my Pulitzer-prize-eligible series, my babies, and it’s all about Vampire Clerics and the betentacled sea monsters that they somehow make clones of.

First up, why Runo?

Umbris is last week’s news, this week we’re all about Runo. And Grolnok? @#$%ing Grolnok? There are like 6 total frogs in Magic, and it’s just another boring self mill- you know what? I’m not going to let myself get angry at data today. I don’t get paid to be angry at data or I’d be a climatologist. I’m someone who has to digest and regurgitate the data for my hungry spec babies and if I don’t like how some of the data tastes, it’s not my job to pass that info on. I just look at it and say “Oh wow, I guess Umbris isn’t as popular as a stupid tribal Frog deck that doesn’t even make the Frogs harder to kill in combat, which is great because they’re all like 5 mana 2/2s. Let’s all buy Xenograft since, you know, no Frogs.” The data has me mad enough to dump on a Simic deck. Jason Alt is disrespecting a Simic deck.

Toxrill at #2 seems legit to me, it’s a -1/-1 counters deck that doesn’t interact with any of the previous cards that gave creatures -1/-1 counters, so that’s neat. I hope you own Swiftfoot boots because Dimir decks do not have a good track record when it comes to paying 11 mana to get their commander out of the command zone. Dimir also doesn’t have a good track record of supporting Krakens and Sea Monsters and Leviathae (I assume that is the plural of Leviathan). No color combination supported it, until a Vampire came along and did it for us. I bet the high synergy (played in a large percentage of Runo decks and a small percentage of decks in general, meaning they’re overrepresented here) cards are going to be a trip.

I know I normally like to look at High Synergy cards first, but in this case, it’s going to be a lot of garbage cards under a buck. I think foils might be in play, and maybe some alternate art versions, but in general, we’re going to look for cards that can give us some more help.

A lot of the high synergy cards that were going to pop because they’re obvious have. Sure, Wrexial is good in the deck, but it’s not something you think of when you think “Sea Serpent tribal” the way other cards are.

Wow, you just straight cannot even blame Runo for this. If anything, this is actually a good buy at $5 since it has flirted with $9 without any help from Runo. I have to assume Koma did this? Imagine having a deck where you can tap all of their blockers and paying 6 mana for a card that makes some of your creatures unblockable. Maybe I’m the one who sucks at building Koma? All I know is that people complained when I play the deck so I took it apart. That’s right, I’m THAT guy, I’ll build any Simic deck, and even I don’t get Grolnok. Calm down, Jason, you said you weren’t going to do this. Just bring it back around to a spec and stop losing your cool, you can do this OK everyone I think this is actually not a bad buy under $5 but I bet there are better picks. File this under “maybe” and I’ll show you something remarkable.

You can be forgiven for seeing a $6 serpent that looks like it should be a bulk rare sitting there and thinking “Oh man, all of the good Serpent cards spiked already” and abandoning this page entirely, but I think that despite Quest for Ula’s Temple (BSB potw) popping, people just don’t know what goes in a Sea Serpent deck and don’t all know how to go to EDHREC and check. Also, there wasn’t a ton of data last week. We knew less than, so obvious stuff like Quest and SOYD for short popped but the meat and potatoes of the decks were tougher to sus out. Know how I know there is more money to be made than there is money made already?

You see it? Just in case you don’t, let me help.

This isn’t that unusual, though. You see this a lot when a card sells out on Card Kingdom. They went out of stock at the old price and it never updated, meanwhile TCG Player has been getting cards back in stock all day as individual sellers, responding to the spike, list their copies for more. If you click the link and go to Card Kingdom, you’ll see they’re out of stock.

OK, then. I’m stumped. It seems like there wasn’t actually a run on this card yet, despite it being in a third of all of the instances of the most popular deck from this set. Surely this is the only example.

OK, this is really shooting a lot of my holes in the “we missed the boat” hypothesis. We missed the boat on 2 cards, both of which went up when Maro wrote that teaser article and we went through it. Didn’t I even call Quest for Ula’s Temple IN THIS ARTICLE SERIES like 3 weeks ago? I want to say I did. If it was obvious to a dip#$% like me who didn’t notice that the wording on Necroduality was NOTHING AT ALL like the wording on Parallel Lives, it was obvious to savvier people who scooped up those obvious Leviaspecs. Eww, that doesn’t sound good to me, give me another crack at it. 3 colorless and 2 Blue chips. Eww, no. Krakenvestments. This is hard! The point is, there are more cards to make money on, so let’s do that.

These are at an all-time low, Gyruda is actually kind of good in Commander even if you don’t run him as a commander or companion, and this is collectible (within reason, come on). Gyruda is good in this deck and in general. Does the existence of a $0.50 copy or a $3 extended art foil dampen things?

Sure does! Extended art foils may be a better play. Gyruda is very good in the deck, but there are a lot of copies and there are a lot of cheap ones before the good ones go up. What is older than Ikoria? How many more cards from the Teferi precon that’s already insanely expensive can hit $10 this month?

3 printings, already went up in January and one of those printings is “The List?” *audible fart noise*

Who’s next?

Neither at an all-time high nor low. Maybe we can look at another graph for comparison to see if we see a similar shape.

Cryptbreaker, a card with many more copies out there, suggests the ceiling for Kederekt Leviathan could be as high as $10 a copy on Card Kingdom. Is that good?

Paying $4 a copy for a card you can flip into $6.50 in credit isn’t sexy, but it does seem safe, and I’ll take safe sometimes.

I have buylisted Heartless Summoning for $3 more than I paid on more than one occasion. It seems only right that it should happen again. Heartyboi would be a little tricky to reprint, synergizes well with the raft of expensive creature tribal decks we’ve been seeing lately, is popping up more and more, is between its historic low and historic high and is one weird Modern card away from being $10 again. This isn’t as sexy at $2 as it was at $0.50, but it doesn’t suck at $2 if you ask me.

You know I don’t like foils, but I don’t hate them, either, especially since a lot of this deck outside of “tribal deck” staples is $0.39 cards, making it an attractive deck to try and foil out.

If this stops at its historic high, it will hit $6. I am not sure it will stop at its historic high. That said, there are a ton of copies of the Commander Legends foil out there – I singled out M11 because the first printing is usually considered the “best” foil, but that stuff barely applies here. That said, stock is very low. Not trying to trigger that Fight or Flight response some human brains have to FOMO, I’m simply, as they say, sayin.

This is a lot of specs, I did a good job this week and I had fun doing it. Did you have fun reading it? Who asked you? Rude. Anyway, your homework for the week is coming up with 3 specs of your own and posting them in the comments section. I bet there is a lot that I glossed over. Always remember to investigate every instance of Card Kingdom being cheaper than TCG Player and don’t take any wooden nickels. Until next time!