Category Archives: Unlocked ProTrader

Unlocked Pro Trader: A Few Surprises


I work for EDHREC as you probably know and you would think that things on EDHREC wouldn’t surprise me considering I am on the site daily plus I access it in my capacity as finance writer. You would think so, rightfully, and yet there are things that escaped my attention that seem like they’re of consequence. Let’s take a look at some of them and see if there is anything we should have noticed before. I’m goin to be looking at the Top 100 commanders built the last two weeks to see if anything snuck in. Ideally, you’d expect the Top 100 of the last two weeks to be mostly the top 10 of the last 10 sets which were all released roughly in the last two weeks, but you’ll see what it actually looks like, and… well, there are a few surprises.

You miss a lot if you just look at the top 10. Sure, Dragons being hot is no surprise to anyone, and Proper and Yuriko, boring decks that are 95% assembled in the box they came in chart highly, but once you start checking deeper, you’ll see a lot you missed. Here are some of the hits among the misses.

26th place is a long way to scroll down the page and despite seeming very weak and very narrow both, Sefris is nonetheless getting built quite a bit. The ability to trigger this 4 times a turn cycle fairly trivially and recycle creatures has caught the eye of Value Mavens everywhere.

Acererak seems like it’s in a great place. It’s got some functional utility with cards like Aluren, and future decks that do something similar to Aluren could make a 2 card combo with Acererak that draws your whole deck or pings them to death. Couple that with its obvious utility with completing the dungeon and its price currently seeing signs of life and you have yourselves a card to throw in a box for 2 years.

You’d have to really be asleep at the wheel not to notice Liesa was THIRTIETH OVERALL but I done did that. Let’s redeem myself if I can.

This card, which has flirted with $15 twice now, is the kind of casual favorite that will always be worth something because of 60 card casual players. They are the solid majority of players, and while they tend not to use our markets a ton, TCG and CK have good enough SEO that if they’re buying those cards online, they’re buying from one of those sites. This is currently gettable for $10 less than the price it peaked at, it’s on its way up and I don’t need a third thing.

It’s a little surprising for an uncommon to be ranked this highly, but this card does see some play, and it also held a very tasty secret that a lot of people missed – there was a card in there that was arbable as recently as March. Everything changed when Jinnie Fay Nation attacked.

I wish I’d noticed this when it hit its floor but the price seemed flat for so long, I stopped checking. I revisted both Aura Mutation and Artifact Mutation in the wake of Jinnie Fay but I forget about the more recent InPestation. If you can get these for the old price, do. This isn’t as much as spec opportunity as a “woopsie daisy” – I don’t always notice everything. This likely tops out at $10 but $15 isn’t unreasonable. I think expecting to spec at $8 and get out at $15 maybe is, though.

Ranked #218 overall, this is a recent (I mean, obviously) inclusion in the Rick Dees Biweekly 2.5 times Top 40. However, Value hunters found a lot to like here, and they unearthed an older card that seems more fun than ever.

The regular-border version of this is $1.50 or so making the meteoric rise of the EA version kind of surprising. Cards with large gaps between the EA version and regular version are hard for me to identify using my current routine and I’ll really need to address that or I’ll miss more than just this. Regular version can’t be terribly far behind, but in terms of sheer availability, I’m not sure what the ceiling is. EA versions are the new foils, and the foils are the new rules or token insert. What a world to rear children up in.

I don’t have a spec based on this pretty old but very, very, very linear and boring commander which I gave up on building because the process of it being on rails literally bored me, but this is as good a time as any to point out that Kindred Discovery got a reprint.

Reprinted cards have a tendency to settle between their spike price and their reprint price. I won’t bore you with the average of $55 and $5, but that number is more than $5 and it’s more than $10 and it’s more than $20, so maybe you want these at $5.

That does it for me, readers. I have to get better about identifying cards that have a very juicy EA version but a really boring regular version and foil, and I have to start tracking commanders we all know are good but which will be like 7th in a set and 50th for the month and like 63rd overall. Not being in the Top 5 can make me miss it with my current routine, and I need to tighten up. That said, missing stuff doesn’t feel nearly as bad as false positives, something my current method has been good about. All I know is that I’ve been at this more than a decade, I’m still learning and I couldn’t have done it without your support. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: Buy the Bottom, Baby


Good news as a set is coming out that I don’t have to do a bunch of analysis for because it’s all reprints. We don’t know what cards in new sets will look like in a year, but we can better predict cards in Double Double Toil and Trouble Masters’ trajectory by looking at past trends and talking about all of the factors I think contribute to a card either recovering or not. To me, a recovery is getting to the pre-reprint price before it’s reprinted again. You can hold on longer than that, but I don’t think I want to, so cards that fell a lot because they’re expensive are better opportunities, which means they need to be expensive to start with.

You’ll remember from the last decade that I don’t love expensive cards. I like lower risk stuff like my analysis of EDH cards provides. However, if we know a card is bound to recover, it’s low enough risk that I don’t mind betting big money no whammies on a proven staple. Reprints are a risk, the card becoming obsolete is a risk, bear attacks are a risk. To quote Al Pacino in Heat, “you could get killed walking your doggy” which makes sense if you saw the movie but less if you didn’t, but that’s your fault for not watching the movie Heat this whole time. What are you waiting for? It’s a good movie, it’s only like 3 hours long and the whole walking the dog quote will make slightly more sense. Or take my word for it that it means risk is inherent in all things. Why make safe, low-value specs when you could get killed walking your doggy? If you don’t have a dog, a non-zero number of people have had frozen blue blocks of ice from an airplane toilet fall off of a plane, reach terminal velocity and slam into them with like a million joules of force and turn them into a human pancake covered in thawing pee. It’s not likely, but the chance isn’t 0, so let’s stop worrying about risk and start worrying about profit, shall we?

The profit will come from buying cards when they bottom out and then holding them as the price goes back up. I have done this type or article a few times and I usually over-explain my picks, so rather than do that, I’ll pick 10 cards – 5 to pick up and 5 I think you should probably avoid. Let’s do it up!

Here is What I’d Buy

Inclusions: 96,532

Reprint Risk: Inevitable

Recent Low/High: $40/$140

Number of Printings: 10

Vault is a slam dunk. It might not get above $100 again, but if you can buy a Mana Vault for under $50 like I think you will soon be able to, you’d be a fool not to. This hasn’t been printed since 2018, which is a 4 year gap I don’t expect a repeat of, but it only took 2 years for the price to triple, which is how long we probably have.

Inclusions: 65,916

Reprint Risk: Inevitable

Recent Low/High: $45/$110

Number of Printings: 6

This is another slam dunk. It took a while for it to bottom out last time, so watch to make sure it goes down. I might not wait forever, if people start to really play Modern again soon, this is going to be $100 before you know it.

Inclusions: 36,543

Reprint Risk: Medium

Recent Low/High: $15/$50

Number of Printings: 3

This is not a $50 card again, probably, but even with Jumpstart and DDTATM back-to-back punching this price, I don’t think it can possibly stay under $20. I think its inclusion data is also skewed by the fact that it was $50 at the peak of EDH’s popularity – a $10 Oracle goes in a ton more decks and doesn’t stay $10 long.

Inclusions: 43,421

Reprint Risk: Medium

Recent Low/High: $10/$55

Number of Printings: 6, kinda (Judge promo and Invention)

This has historically gone from $10 to $55 in a short period of t ime and despite its 43k inclusions in the past 2 years, I think it can go up even more given the relatively small period of time people had to get these cheap. Will Double Masters sell more than Core Set 2019? Probably, but it’s not rarity down-shifted in this set and I think the demand can triple you up easy.

Inclusions: 39,689

Reprint Risk: Medium to Low inside 3 years

Recent Low/High: $10/$30

Number of Printings: 5, kinda (expedition and FTV)

I think the graph of this card speaks volumes.

Here is What to Not Buy, Probably

Inclusions: 22,266

Reprint Risk: High

Recent Low/High: $2/$50

Number of Printings: 3

This was a bulk rare that Joh Lee Kwai made expensive by playing cards on other people’s turns on The Command Zone. That’s cool, but it hasn’t been printed since that happened, but now it’s a rare in a Master’s Set and it’s currently like $15. I think the poor inclusion data, its rating as a meme card and higher supply than ever before bode poorly for this card.

Inclusions: 108,155

Reprint Risk: The only reason I don’t like it as a pick-up

Recent Low/High: $20/$65

Number of Printings: 3

I think they want this to be under $20 and I think they’ll keep reprinting it. Its 108k inclusions make me really nervous. I think you can make some money on this but I will be so nervous about a reprint I’ll sell too early and regret it. This is a card that will regain some value but it’s so volatile to me I don’t want to touch it. I feel a similar way about…

Inclusions: 46,513

Reprint Risk: Brace yourself

Recent Low/High: $20/$100

Number of Printings: 3

I think they’re just going to print this into dust. People were so mad when it hit $100 again, and they saw how insufficient a masters set printing was at curbing prices. I’m prepared to be wrong on this, and if you want these to play with, certainly don’t balk at $30 or so, but I think these aren’t done going down and I think we’re going to see another printing of this in the next 12 months or I’ll be shocked. This could be a really big miss, but I think misses are only bad if you don’t spend that money on a different hit of mine, which seems like a thing you could do instead of this, which seems riskier to me.

This is a bad card that was expensive because P3K was only sold at Toys R Us and the stoner who stole all of the P3K from my local Toys R Us wouldn’t sell to me back in high school because I made fun of his white boy dreadlocks. I have owned Imperial Seals and always been glad to be rid of them as fast as I got them. Actual supply is doom here, this card’s price is in freefall. I’m not even including inclusions.

Same deal here. I think if this reprint had hit in the midst of Obeka fever, we could be having a conversation, but

That does it for me this week. There were a few cards I wasn’t sure about so I ignored them. Got a specific question about a specific card? Let me know in the comments or the Pro Trader Discord, otherwise assume you’re on your own because I didn’t have enough of an idea to stick my neck out. That does it for me, readers. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: The Rest of the Best


I want to do a bit of a continuation of the energy of last week’s article without making it a strict continuation. The truth is, Baldur’s Gate is a set that everyone is dogging on twitter because everyone whose opinion you respect doesn’t respect EDH. That’s OK with me, I honestly like people underestimating a great set. AFR was full of weird cards and it sold well just because people who like D&D bought them, and maybe they’ll keep it up? Either way, Baldur’s Gate is doing a lot financially, and maybe ignoring the “face” commanders that are mostly cards from the precon and drilling down deeper will find more hidden gems. It worked last week, it can work now.

Let’s look at the distribution from last week.

We looked at a few, and we’ll look at the rest, now. Out of curiosity, has anything changed overall?

Here is the full top 16 from last week.

Here is the top 16 today.

It is safe to say the dust has settled quite a bit. Let’s look at the last few stragglers in the Top 16 before we call it a set, shall we?

Would it surprise you to learn that Neera’s High Synergy cards are not precon cards? It’s an actual interesting list!

Stealing their cards is the best way to play Magic the Gathering and there’s one card that hasn’t gotten a reprint for some reason.

This is in multiple decks based on Baldur’s Gate usage and it currently costs $10 on TCG Player and $15 on CK. I think reprint risk is non-trivial, but I also think this is powerful enough to hit $25 if it carries on its current trajectory for another year and I’m into it. I wish I’d had the foresight to scoop a ton when these were under $5 but I assumed it was a fringe kind of card only I liked. Helm of Possession wasn’t a $30 card so how could this even hit $10? Turns out people are more aware of cards that aren’t old enough to drink – who knew?

The precon gave us a very sexy reprint which cut the value of Jeska’s Will, a really ridiculous spell, from $28 to $14 overnight. It’s rebounding a bit on CK so if you think it’s done dropping or you can live with buying in at $12 on TCG Player knowing it probably makes out at $21 this time around, there is a lot of money to be made here. You know what didn’t get a reprint?

The version that’s $21 on TCG Player and $32 on CK.

$35 on EA foils looks pretty good in hindsight!

I have talked about some of these cards before, but sometimes it bears repeating.

Adeline is a good card with a very, very ugly EA version. Lacking a credible alternative, the regular version has to do all of the work.

The regular version maxed out a full dollar higher. Bad EA versions bode well for the regular versions, but eliminate some of that “even if this gets reprinted (something almost sure to happen to Adeline) the EA version can hold some value” safety you feel, so spec at your own risk. Still, this is a future $15 card that you can get on TCG for $4.86 and this isn’t the first or last time I’ll discuss this as a spec.

Someone has kept this at $5 on their buylist as it fell from $17 to $7 and I want to know who.

It isn’t who I thought it was – they are only paying $6.60 on the foil and not buying the non-foil at all. Curious.

Circle of Dreams Druid’s EA version is plummeting to the value of the non-EA and will almost certainly get a reprint as it’s an Elf and it’s a $5 Gaea’s Cradle for new players, so maybe those EA and EA foil copies are better – just make sure not to grab a falling knife.

This deck seems very narrow. It builds itself, basically, but no one is building it enough for these cards to matter, or using them anywhere else. I don’t love this as a source for specs.

I believe this graph, however, speaks for itself. This seems like a very good card that sometimes impacts other formats. I this $6 is a bargain for a card that was 3 times that at one point.

With so many decks, it’s hard to get to them all, but it’s also a lot of opportunities for old, weird cards to get a second look, or for one card that’s not really a staple but which interacts favorably with a lot of decks built around the same few core concepts. I think if we want to dig deep, we’ll continue to find gems, and we’ll find cards like Adeline whose names keep coming up. Both of those are good things. That does it for me this week, readers. Until next time!

Unlocked Pro Trader: The Still-Shifting Landscape


Last week I wrote about how the landscape has shifted a bit and as people actually got Baldur’s Gate cards in their hands, and I feel like I should admit that the landscape continues to shift and every article is merely a snapshot into a fluid situation, further compacted by the fact that Dominaria United previews will start any day, now. Fortunately, we still have some time to figure out some cards that have some velocity because they’re in decks that aren’t tearing up the charts but are still getting built quite a bit. Let’s look at the lesser known decks in Baldur’s Gate (I don’t remember the name of the set, go with it).

The obvious ones are still doing really well, but what about the ones that are not obvious are are not doing as well? Not exactly the dregs, but certainly not the decks ending up in the top-built decks from the last week. Compare Raggadragga’s 716 decks to some of the others.

The 347 Kadira decks aren’t exactly pulling the same weight, are they? That said, they are still pulling weight and we have ignored them for a few weeks. Let’s not do that anymore, shall we?

All precon cards. We talked about this last week – A ton of the high synergy cards are directly from the precon and I don’t know what to do about that. We could filter them out but then you’re getting some fairly low synergy scores and you might as well just look at top cards, which are likely Orzhov staples.

There aren’t enough Party-based decks in the world not to make Coveted Prize a perennial stinker, and going down below the “Top Cards” cutoff seems… fraught I guess is the word. Still, we should soldier on and see if we can find anything here.

This could take a minute, but every time I swing with this and activate it, someone asks “wait, does it really tutor when it swings?” Yes, this card is slept-on because Kaldheim is slept-on. This card, however, has solid fundamentals imo.

I don’t love looking at the raw number of inclusions as a substitute for analysis, but if this card is in this many decks and no one told the price, it’s a matter of time until this butts up against reality and becomes the price it’s supposed to be. Yeah, they’re printing everything into Bolivian right now but that doesn’t mean even the supply we got can keep up with this demand. A new card making this obsolete seems more likely than a reprint. Unfortunately, it seems more likely than a lot of things.

You can basically copy everything I said about Varragoth and apply it here. In fact,

This could take a minute, but every time I swing with [another creature] and activate it, someone asks “wait, does it really tutor when it swings?” and I say “no, you’re thinking of Varragoth.” Yes, this card is slept-on because Kaldheim is slept-on. This card, however, has solid fundamentals imo.

I don’t love looking at the raw number of inclusions as a substitute for analysis, but if this card is in this many decks and no one told the price, it’s a matter of time until this butts up against reality and becomes the price it’s supposed to be. Yeah, they’re printing everything into Bolivian right now but that doesn’t mean even the supply we got can keep up with this demand. A new card making this obsolete seems more likely than a reprint. Unfortunately, it seems more likely than a lot of things

Despite the enormous handicap of coming from Wisconsin and working in de lumberyard dere, this guy manages to craft some chaos wherever he goes. I can dig it. How much chaos?

Cards that aren’t included in the precon! What the WHAT?

I think this is likely to be a much more expensive foil soon. The set has been out a year and boxes are pretty expensive on this already. I’m confident we will see a lot of growth on this barring a reprint in foil.

We are currently at this point in the graph, if that makes this any clearer. I like foil Nightblade a LOT.

This is quite possibly the ugliest premium version I’ve ever seen.

And the foils are about to be dirt cheap.

That said,

Barring a reprint, this goes to $10. That said, a reprint seems kind of likely and there is no foil or premium version that can insulate this card from the shock of said reprint. This has the juice to hit $10, I just don’t know how much time we have. If you’re squeamish, put your dollahs elswur.

Well hot damn.

$10 on CK was the floor on these and CK is already asking $15. It’s not unreasonable to assume this can hit $20. A lot of Jumpstart was opened because the first print run was small, the prices were nuts and excitement was high. Then boxes came out and people bought then at $80 feverishly because they were so laden with value. Then the market realized a ton of singles were in it and supply was basically infinite and prices bottomed out. We’re for sure in an upswing, though, and this is on its way to, and I’m speculating, $20ish. Plan accordingly.

That does it for me this week. Next week we’ll dive even deeper unless another set has come out by then. Until next time!