Category Archives: Unlocked ProTrader

Unlocked Pro Trader: Upgrade Your Gray Matter

Readers,

I’m a huge shill for EDHREC, a website you should and probably are using for MtG Finance research. I think I’ve spent the better part of a decade making the case for the site as a tool for financiers. It is not in my capacity as a shill that I come to you today with a technique you need to learn, however. No, I come to you today to help you get the most out of this tool by showing you something I do every time precons are released. We did technically get some new precons and while they’re Kirkland brand compared to the typical EDH precons we’re used to, they’re… kinda not that bad. They’re jammed with quality reprints that blew out some of my specs (who called Admonition Angel and Angry Omnath in a $20 deck? Not this guy…), Not only that, the commanders really aren’t that bad at all. This was a good way to make some commanders that work well with the set without having to worry if they were too good or too weird for Standard.

If you look at the page for Anowon, for example, you see the average list, which can be confusing. What on there was reprinted in the precon? How many of those cards are overrepresented due to the precon effect? It’s not super easy to figure that out, sometimes. Luckily, EDHREC doesn’t just scrape data, we analyze it a bit, and we compare the list of the precon to the average list after we have a few weeks of data and the cards that are missing from either list tells us a lot. If there are cards in the precon that are missing from a lot of the registered list, we can tell that people are cutting that card. If there are cards that show up in a lot of the finished decks that aren’t in the precon, we can tell people are adding the card. Like, this sounds obvious, but aren’t you glad someone is automating that process? When there is some data to look at, we generate a “Precon upgrade” page which says what people are adding and what people are cutting.

This page is full of useful information and while we might not have enough to do a full article treatment on, we can look at both decks to see if anything sticks out. Knowing that this tool is available is good for anyone who uses EDHREC data for speculating. Let’s take a look in depth.

It’s VERY basic. The categories are “Cards to Add,” “Lands to Add,” “Cards to Cut,” and “Lands to Cut”. It’s a lot to take in at a glance, but they did the favor of sorting it by the percentage of decks that either made the cut or addition. That means the top-left card, Reconnaissance Mission, was added the most. The first cards you see when you glance at the list are the most important and they get less so as you go on. That helps you figure out what matters quickly. If we’d done this sooner, we may have caught a few of these ships before they sailed.

The cards that were cut don’t matter a TON but they’re good to know. They’re not that relevant financially because “don’t buy this” isn’t as good advice as “buy this” and if you want advice, just buy the “buy this” stuff. If you have the stuff and want to get out because people aren’t playing it, well, it’s kind of too late because the card just got reprinted. I guess if you thought that it seeing play might bring the price back up, it’s good to be disabused of that notion (be kicked in the ribs as you cling to hope, the signature mood of 2020).

Let’s look at what’s getting added.

Not gonna lie, I missed this one and it stings. I touted this as a spec many, many moons ago and when it never went anywhere, I lost faith in my ability to assess Magic cards. What I should have done was reassess my ability to be patient and believe in myself. You’d think I’d learn that. If you listened to me when I said to buy these and didn’t sell them when you got bored of them doing nothing, congrats on the twelve-up. These are gone under $6 – don’t let Channel Fireball pretending to have them for $0.60 fool you – these are goneso.

Anowon and Zareth San both coming down at the same time gave a lot of people a lot of chances to play this and adding the Monarch to games of EDH is fun and a good thing. I liked a lot of the Monarch cards and it took them so long I figured I was just a Timmy and didn’t know anything anymore. Nope, just years ahead of the curve. Remember, there are no failed specs, merely longer-term specs. Ask Travis Allen about that one when he had to stop messaging me every 6 months to make fun of me for recommending people buy Clerics in like 2016.

We get to see what Thornbite Staff’s price would have done if it was a real card and not an illusory, obvious spec based on a Vannifar deck that never materialized. I suspect this hits $5.

Welp. Focused too much on the most-built EDH decks to catch this one before it was too late. I even wrote an article where I combined all of the Green decks into one deck. Should have combined all of the evasion creature Blue Black Rogues-matters decks into one. Congrats on the quadruple up if you caught this in time. I should really write an article every day for two weeks when a set comes out and then take 3 months off.

Ever wanted to watch a reprint get shaken off in real time? This returns to its former glory days of $5 and I was getting these in bulk from people who drafted Iconic Masters. Don’t sleep on Timmy cards, folks. Timmy has money and isn’t afraid to buy 4 copies of EDH staples for 63 card, unsleeved decks to play at a kitchen table. Timmy is my hero.

Got a feeling there will be some goodies in here, too. Green is an EDH staple color, so we may need to dig a bit deeper, but there are specs here, and maybe they didn’t all pop already like they did in Anowon.

This is a high price for a “secret reprint” card that was in the Dovin, Architect of Law Planeswalker deck. Yeah, bet you didn’t know about THAT! Try playing prereleases at a cool LGS who gives you Planeswalker decks as prize packs when you go 3-0. There are packs in those decks, you can sell the Planeswalker, you can sell the code so people can redeem the Planeswalker on Arena and you can get a free copy of this card and watch it creep up to $4 and stay there. A non-mythic rare with a reprint the same month it came out and it’s creeping up? This card is the truth.

Mystery Boosters did major harm to the perception of this card’s price but not to its demand. This will rebound and it will do so very precipitously and I will write in an article “This took so long I lost faith in my ability to judge when a reprint would be shaken off and I didn’t buy any of these” except I will probably buy some of these because this card is good as long as Green decks put extra lands into play, which is forever.

These are too cheap.

This card is insane and people are overlooking that fact. Anything that was considered for a ban in Standard can be $10 after a year or two of brisk EDH play, so sayeth 75% guy.

What do we think? Was it super useful to you to see cards people are jamming into the precons? A lot of them have started to go up already, making me think we’re onto something here. Join me next week where I’ll shill harder for a site I very publicly work for, which isn’t technically shilling since a shill is someone who pretends not to be affiliated and I’m not doing that but people used it wrong for so long that it just means whatever people want, like how the word literally can mean what figuratively means, also, because ultimately none of this matters, the sun is cooking our planet alive anyway good night. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: You Down With DFC?

Readers!

After playing some games of Magic: the Gathering with the cards from Return to Return to Zendikar, I have to say, the DFCs are much better than I had anticipated. I liked a few of them – namely cards that were just fine as cards and where the ability to flip them over and play them as the card on the back was gravy. Valakut Awakening needn’t be a DFC to get play, for example.

Valakut Awakening

A personal Wheel that gets played at Instant speed, doesn’t require you to Discard cards, doesn’t require you to wheel your entire hand and which doesn’t net you -1 card is frankly pretty absurd. Do you NEED the ability on the back? Certainly not, not. However, it’s there should you need it, mitigating mana screw, ensuring you ramp up, and saving you from discard effects if you’re playing a card like Meloku that lets you pick a land up and put it back in your hand to be played as a Wheel later. It was obvious to a lot of people that this was good, and it’s currently the #5 played DFC per EDHREC, the first that doesn’t have a land on both sides.

It’s becoming clear the more I play that the DFCs are much better than just “good spell plus gravy” and players are playing the DFC lands a lot more than we’d anticipated. I want to look at each one and talk about whether or not it could get more play and, given how there is basically a 0% chance they’re ever reprinted outside of a very specific supplemental set, which ones could potentially be worth more later than they are right now. Let’s make a boring chart, first.

I sorted by Percentage of decks the way EDHREC does, but either way, the cards that are overperforming relative to their rarity will be obvious so how you sort doesn’t matter a ton. You notice what I notice right off the bat?

Recovery is performing better than a lot of rares and all of the Mythics. The 1 mana more than Regrowth is trivial in EDH and being able to play a land on the back is just gravy. This is exactly the card Recollect with upside.

Recollect sees a non-zero amount of play. Granted, quite a bit of that has to do with players just having a bulk uncommon lying around and Regrowth costing more until recently. There’s no real reason other than “I grabbed what I had on my desk” for not playing Bala Ged Recovery if you think Recollect is fine (it is. It’s fine). I don’t know if non-foils are a great investment, but I do think foils have some upside.

Under $3, I think foils of this are just fine. I don’t like foils, personally, but these are hard to reprint and I like that. Recovery is a good card and I think people are going to realize that more and more.

Basically anything we can say about Bala Ged Recovery, we can say about this except that there really isn’t an analogous card to this getting play. A novel spell with upside is very tempting. Black doesn’t get a ton of flicker effects and this takes some work but it saves a creature in a pinch. I am adding this to my Gonti deck, for one.

This is even cheaper but its future is a little less certain. However, despite a lack of an analogous card to compare it to, this is seeing quite a bit of play, it’s performing better than half of the mythics and a third of the rares and whenever you get an uncommon doing that well, it doesn’t hurt to look at foils. Under $2 this seems like a strong pickup and I could see this hitting $5 if it continues to see play. I think Bala Ged Recovery is much better but I think I can still recommend this as well.

I mentioned this at the top, but this card is very, very good. It’s not a strict replacement for a wheel all the time – it’s not good in Nekusar, for example. However, lots of Red players swear by Wheel of Fortune as a way to reload their hand even if it benefits opponents and this doesn’t do that. There are plenty of other wheels already in Nekusar, so why not give The Locust God a new toy that Boros decks can use to turn dead land drops late in the game into gas? This doesn’t play the same as Wheel but it doesn’t have to, it does quite a bit of work and people are on board, it seems. If Card Kingdom is getting $5 for this, you can confidently pay $3 on TCG Player imo, and when Card Kingdom is getting $8 for this, they’ll be paying $5.25 in store credit, but I would try to get out for cash. I think this is a good card and it’s going to get more play when people test it, not less.

Trade Routes is a card I have liked in landfall decks for some time, but it was always so cheap it didn’t seem worth mentioning. It spiked precipitously with the printing of Omnath, Locus of the Roil and is beginning to sell out at its “old Omnath” price because it’s also good in new Omnath but also it’s great at picking up a DFC land and letting you replay it as a spell if you want, or flip the mana it produces. If you can get these under $4 still, do so because this is on its way to $10 despite the large number of printings.

Meolku is another excellent way to pick up lands and give them another chance to be something different and it gives you some dorks, to boot. It had a Masters set printing, which hurts the insane foil multiplier, but setting this back to $1 so it could climb back up was a blessing. I wish I had snagged more when it bottomed out, but I had other fish to fry back then and I would have been sitting on them a long time. There’s still money to be made here, I guess, but I mostly included this to remind you to play it.

That does it for me, everyone. Next week we’ll have some more data to parse and soon we’ll get Commander Legends spoilers trickling in. Can’t stop, won’t stop! Join me next time for more hard-hitting analysis. Leave a comment in the comments section if you’d like to see the article I wrote about the Captain format and had to scrap 5 hours later. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Emerging Trends

Readers!

I’m going to post the EDHREC Top Commanders from last week and then from this week and I want you to tell me if you notice anything leaping out at you.

Here is last week.

Here is this week. This week’s makes a lot more sense to me, I have to be honest. We got an influx of decks as people finally got ahold of the cards and began building, something that didn’t make sense to me at first but which data continues to repeatedly bear out.

Charix really slid because it’s a bad commander and meme decks don’t maintain their popularity for long. Kaza slid and was overtaken by Verazol, which makes sense to me (though Verazol sucks, too) and Phylath is poised to crack the Top 5. I have to imagine Tazri is overtaken by Phylath next week. The real elephant (elemental?) in the room is the jump Ashaya took week to week. Omnath went from 164 decks to 362, an increase of 120% and Ashaya increased from 31 to 100 decks, an increase of 255%. That’s quite a leap in popularity and just like we did when Akiri leapt, we’re going to look at what’s in play.

Suddenly creatures count as lands, which means anything that untaps lands can untap creatures, too. People seem to be really fixating on that aspect of it. However, the highest synergy score belongs to a card that’s bananas in this deck.

Card Kingdom is charging twice what TCG Player is for this card and that’s actually not new. Timber Protector goes gangbusters on that site and they have a hard time keeping it in stock. It’s not quite at an all-time high on Card Kingdom, but don’t expect that to stay the case. This is an entirely new axis of demand for this card and its current, 63 un-sleeved card casual demand isn’t going away. This is the card I feel most strongly about because it makes all of your creatures and Forests indestructible and has a nice, solid body attached. You don’t want someone to wipe your board with an Acid Rain, do you? Copies on TCG Player under $8 are drying up, you might want to move fast. Check out lesser known sites to mop up the cheap stuff if you don’t want to overpay.

I feel less strongly about Patron of the Orochi but a lot of what I said about Timber Protector applies here, as well. The main difference is that the price has been trending up lately rather than remaining flat which means some of our ability to realize gains on this card has evaporated. However, this is useful in other decks in EDH in ways that Timber Protector is not (Patron is in 1125 decks versus 852 for Timber Protector, a difference that seems small but it’s about 32%) which explains why it’s crept up lately. I still think if you can find $6 or $7 copies of this, you can get out above $12 fairly trivially. CK is giving $7.25 in store credit for Patron and $8.32 for Timber Protector NOW, imagine how high those numbers will get once reality catches up. CK has known these cards were monsters before now, and they’re currently high synergy inclusions in the second-most popular deck in the new set. Seems like a slam dunk to me.

As an aside, I hate saying “slam dunk” to denote something that’s obvious. If slam dunks are so easy, why is there a competition devoted to them? Why don’t other sports get sayings like that? “I love this at its current price, it’s an empty net goal, but the kind where Kucherov doesn’t skate beside you and chop you on your leg when you score it because he’s a sore loser and everyone forgot about that because he hoisted the cup last night and I hope he chokes on it.” Yep, OK. I see why we use “slam dunk” now.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the top cards are all Green deck staples, but there may be some surprises.

OK, so while this isn’t a surprise, per se, I think it’s one of the best ‘walkers right now and it’s underpriced.

Standard really propped this price up and it going down means we have an opportunity to grab cheap copies. War of the Spark is a set where a lot of the value is spread out over a lot of cards and when that happens, the box prices could really go nuts making the singles harder to get affordably, which can create a feedback loop. I think if CFB only wants $3.75 for a planeswalker that makes all of your forests tap for an extra green, we should take them up on their generous offer. Anything under $5 is correct here and this has already demonstrated it can get to $10.

The price of Ranger isn’t at an all-time high, but the buylist price is and that’s something worth noting. Anything under $5 on this seems correct, also. Ranger can pick itself up to circumvent the “only use this ability once per turn” restriction, which makes this a very good combo enabler with Ashaya out. It sees play in multiple formats in Elves decks, also, and there aren’t too many copies floating around despite its rarity given how long ago Visions was. It’s not just these copies that make sense, either.

Why not shell out $120 clams for the FNM foil? Oh, because you’re not a complete lunatic? OK, then, message received. I assume the spike in 2018 had something to do with Pauper – I don’t always catch every price increase or know why it happened but good for you if you had these at the old price. The price is declining steadily, but if you happen to find these mispriced somewhere or have them in your collection, these are worth more than you perhaps thought.

This isn’t Ashaya-specific, but these are probably at the floor. Double Masters was opened for about 45 minutes and now people are on to the next thing, and the next thing is a set with Landfall creatures. This will be reprinted again, possibly in Commander Legends, but I think they’ll wait a few years in between and trade off with Burgeoning like they have been.

Ashaya is a fun, unique deck and it lets green be green. People are going to continue to be very excited about the insane plays the deck can pull off and green staples, already great buys, will become even better. That does it for me this week. As always, I welcome dissent in the comments section. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Stapling… 6 Decks Together?

Readers!

Last week I wrote what I think was some pretty riveting stuff and this week I’m writing a sequel, but like a sequel that was better than the first one, like Aliens or Terminator 2 or Leonard Part 6. If you didn’t read last week’s article, or if you’d like to refresh your memory, give it another read right now and we can call that the preamble part of this article. If you’re about to crash headlong into a paywall you didn’t know was there, last week’s piece is unlocked already, just like every new article is unlocked on Thursday so everyone can get these sweet picks.

This week I’m going to use the same three commanders but since we have another week of data collection, I’m going to re-populate the lists because we’ve had another week of data collection. Now, the odds that a card that’s great in all 3 decks or even two of them wasn’t conceived of a week ago and is now in enough decks to make all three lists is so remote it’s not worth discussing, but I feel like it wouldn’t be scientific to collect as much data as we can. I talked mostly about Green cards last week so this week, I’m going to look at cards that aren’t necessarily mono-Green and therefore not necessarily in Ashaya.

While we’re talking about changes since last week, let’s look at the number of decks.

Since last week, Omnath went from 84 to 133, an increase of 58%, Ashaya went from 13 to 20 decks, an increase of 54% and Phylath went from 8 to 14 decks, an increase of 75%. None of these numbers are crazy, but Ashaya slipped from #2 to #5 and Phylath slipped from #6 to #9 with the addition of Akiri, a very popular card. I wouldn’t read a TON into Akiri coming out of nowhere since basically the same number of people made an Akiri deck as an Orath deck, they just had one fewer week to do it.

Right now, Omnath still reigns supreme, which may or may not hold. What matters to me is the cards in more decks than just Omnath, though, so let’s take a look.

Having redone the three lists, I decided to look just at cards in both Omnath and Phylath. Yes, there are more Ashaya decks than Phylath decks and Green is common to all 3, but I want to avoid overlooking any Red or Gruul cards. Are there any?

Arid Mesa
Blasphemous Act
Bloodstained Mire
Broken Bond
Burgeoning
Chaos Warp
Cinder Glade
Command Tower
Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
Escape to the Wilds
Explore
Farseek
Fury of Akoum
Gruul Turf
Heart of Keld
Khalni Heart Expedition
Locus of Rage
Mina and Denn
Moraug
Nahiri’s Lithoforming
Radha
Rhythm of the Wild
Roiling Regrowth
Sakura-Tribe Scout
Scalding Tarn
Scapeshift
Scute Swarm
Seer’s Sundial
Swiftfoot Boots
Temur Sabertooth
Terramorphic Expanse
Tunneling Geopede
Valakut Exploration
Wildborn

Blasphemous Act, Chaos Warp, Mourag (on the list as both Mourag and Fury of Akoum because the list tool does not know what to do with proper names separated by a comma), Omnath Locus of Rage, Mina and Denn, Radha, Heart of Keld and Valakut Exploration.

This is slated for reprint (along with Admonition Angel, which is ALSO in Secret Lair, RIP) in the “Land’s Wrath” EDH precon for the set, and that may or may not drastically impact the price. If it does, good, buy a bunch because it will go up. If it doesn’t, good, but a bunch because it will go up. Look at the hard increase when Lord Windgrace was printed in Commander 2018. This is a powerful card that will never stay cheap again, and with lots more “lands matter” cards possible in the future, this will always be a player. It’s already starting to tank in price, so watch for it to rebound (don’t try to grab a falling knife, as stockbrokers love to say) and buy in. This has some reprint risk, but what doesn’t these days? I’m not ready to say “buy RL cards” and call it a column just yet.

The buy-in is currently a bit high on a non-mythic (this too so long I gave up waiting. Woops! These were gettable at bulk) and the reprint risk is pretty high. Even though they love to make everything a special edition foil later, I think you have a year or two to cash in on foils of this.

Foil

The foils followed a similar trajectory and I think have more upside considering they’re selling out under $8 everywhere that still has them. Card Kingdom is the highest price and they’re just about sold out if that tells you anything. I don’t love foils in EDH as a recommendation because there are so few copies, there’s so little demand and you can basically only help 3 or 4 people, which isn’t a recommendation, it’s an insider tip. Still, if you’re an insider, here’s a tip.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s look at Omnath and Ashaya’s cards.

Ancient Tomb
Arbor Elf
Birds of Paradise
Carpet of Flowers
Chrome Mox
Destiny Spinner
Dryad Arbor
Eldritch Evolution
Elvish Mystic
Elvish Reclaimer
Field of the Dead
Force of Vigor
Fyndhorn Elves
Gaea’s Cradle
Genesis Wave
Ghost Quarter
Green Sun’s Zenith
Llanowar Elves
Locus of Mana
Mana Crypt
Mana Vault
Mox Diamond
Multani
Protector of Argoth
Reliquary Tower
Snow-Covered Forest
Strip Mine
Survival of the Fittest
Sylvan Awakening
Titania
Triumph of the Hordes
Utopia Sprawl
Veil of Summer
Vital Force
Wayward Swordtooth
Wild Growth
Yavimaya’s Avatar
Zendikar Resurgent

One card that popped out immediately was Carpet of Flowers. This is a very cEDH card and EDHREC tends to not get cEDH cards much, especially $20 uncommons. I think the increased availability from the Mystery Booster printings is making the card a little more playable. That said, Mox Diamond, Mana Crypt, Ancient Tomb, Survival of the Fittest – these are cEDH cards. They’re in both lists because cEDH players are building a lot of Omnath. I’m not sure why a player with a spare Gaea’s Cradle would be building Ashaya. One thing to note – when you have a small number of decks, such as 20 or so, 2 people building something is 10% of the total and that gets picked up. To the 3 people putting a $2,000 manabase in a deck with a commander that does absolutely nothing on its own, more power to you, I guess.

There are no surprises here, but I do want to highlight one card I like.

Titania is getting really hard to reprint. It’s more expensive than anything they’d put in a Commander precon, it’s too niche to go in something like Modern Horizons, so basically if this isn’t in Commander Legends, it’s likely going to be a minute before it can be reprinted and those sub-$20 copies on TCG Player look mighty inviting.

Since correlating Omnath and Ashaya got the spikey stuff in Ashaya, can doing the same thing with Phylath highlight durdly stuff from both decks?

Acidic Slime
Beanstalk Giant
Beast Whisperer
Beastmaster Ascension
Blighted Woodland
Boundless Realms
Chord of Calling
Cradle of the Sun
Garruk
Garruk’s Uprising
Growing Rites of Itlimoc // Itlimoc
Guardian Project
Harmonize
Liege of the Tangle
Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
Nissa’s Pilgrimage
Primal Hunter
Reclamation Sage
Return to Nature
Rishkar’s Expertise
Shamanic Revelation

Yep!

This went 4 years without a reprint and when it did get one, it was in Mystery Boosters, which hasn’t curtailed prices like we expected. I think it’s worth noting how this shrugs off reprints, although if it’s reprinted again, it may not go 4 years after that. I think this is a potential Commander Legends card and if it’s in there, I’m a buyer.

foil

If you want to know why I don’t like EDH foils, behold this graph. This is a $12 foil version of a $7 non-foil card with 1 foil printing and 5 non-foil printings. Casual cards just don’t matter that much in foil, unless they do. If a card is brand new and you think it’s a good EDH card and the foil is $5 and the non-foil is $2, do you want to try and guess if it’s going to pop or do you want to just avoid having to guess? Me, I like avoiding having to guess.

Finally, look at how many decks Nissa’s Pilgrimmage is in. 10k is quite a few. This is the #1 most-played Green Sorcery outside of the top 100 cards in EDHREC’s database. It has 3 printings, Origins where the foil is under a buck, an EDH precon where there was no foil, and an FNM promo that’s under a buck. When someone tells you raw EDHREC inclusions stats and goes all Dragon Ball Z about the number of decks it’s in, remember Nissa’s Pilgrimmage. It’s hard for a card to be in 10,000 decks and be the most-played Green Sorcery in the whole database and that card can’t get above $1. Food for thought.

That does it for me this week. I’ll be diving deeper into specific decks next time – I particularly like how Zareth San could make some Rogues cards that escaped a reprint in the Anowon precon (is all of this gibberish to you because you don’t play EDH? I’m really self-conscious about assuming you’re all on the same page) relevant again. Makes me want to buy all of the Quicksilver Fountains. Until next time!