Things We Learned in 2022

Readers!

2022 was a big year for me, both professionally and personally and looking back over everything that happened and that we put up with, it’s amazing we survived this year intact. It was full sensory overload for us 24/7 and it feels like everything I used to like is coming at me too fast, from superhero movies to Magic releases to family and personal milestones. We’re going to wrap up the year by reflecting on how we got better at picking out cards that were going to pop based on clues from EDHREC.

The first thing I acknowledged was something that I had hinted at privately but felt like I didn’t want to exacerbate by drawing too much attention to it was what is dubbed the “Command Zone Effect.” I wrote about the impact of that show on the price of a card like Fervent Charge and how it’s worth subscribing to their Patreon to see the episodes early. Cards that do something crazy, even in a contrived scenario, are bound to pop in the short term and being ahead of the curve.

It is always noteworthy whenever I show tips or tricks about using EDHREC, it might be worth refreshing your memory about it from time to time. I sometimes forget things I’ve learned about the site, and I am looking at ways to make more of our data presentable. 2023 will be a great year for analytics, even the ad hoc, self-taught analytics that you could do yourselves.

This is the first time this year I mentioned Setessan Champion, but I mentioned it a lot after. That card is still way too cheap and if you take nothing else away from this year, get that card. Sell it whenever. If it gets reprinted, buy a bunch of copies. It’s very, very good and it has a extended-art version that is less impacted by a reprint. It’s crazy good, even now.

Baldur’s Gate was one of the biggest sets for EDH of the year and it’s going to be the gift that keeps on giving for a while. I highlighted the cards that mattered then in this article, but I really think it would behoove you to take a look at the set’s page yourself. We got a TON of cards, a TON of cycles, a new kind of companion, Gates support and a ton of Legendary creatures. The set is so dense and we’ve only scratched the surface.

I am not sure how to categorize “Buy The Bottom” but I think it’s the best thing I wrote this year, or at least the article I’m proudest of. Give it a read if it’s been awhile.

With Wizards inundating us with new Legendary creatures all the time, Legendary-only decks seem more and more possible. I wrote about the cards that will get played no matter what the rest of that deck looks like.

This was the first year I really made a habit of going back and checking high-impact sets a few months later to se where the prices ended up when the dust settled, and doing the same for decks was a revelation. This was the first but not last time I made a point to write about my process.

Sometimes I think a card is underplayed and that’s all I have to say about it.

It pays to go back through the EDHREC Top 100 cards, because any cards that got added to that list in the last year are very pertinent. Some of them haven’t quite moved in price despite being very high on the list, so if you want 5 examples of cards to watch, here you go.

In this 2-part miniseries dubbed Brother Vs Brother and Brother Vs Brother 2: the ReBrothering we widened our scope a bit to look at the cards that in general will go up as a result of lots of new artifact decks being built. It doesn’t matter what the individual decks do if you know what the next 6 months of releases will do, so stock up now.

2022 was a year full of slight improvements to my methods and I’m glad I took the time to document them. Signs of growth in my skills at picking specs are encouraging and despite doing this over a decade, I’m pot committed to this life and ready to charge into 2023 with all 3 guns blazing. Until next year!

Picking from Baldur’s Gate at the end of the year

My new rule is six months. I don’t consider buying cards for long-term growth until six months after release, and wouldn’t you know it, we’re at six months post-Commander Legends: Battle of Baldur’s Gate. I’ve learned through hard and expensive experience that I don’t want to buy cards until the floor, and it takes several months to find that floor now.

Let’s go over some cards from the set, and discuss how the price fell and fell and fell, and then decide which merit being a pick up from a vastly underpowered and poorly-selling set.

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.

To learn how ProTrader can benefit YOU, click here to watch our short video.

expensive cards ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

We need to start out with the obvious: This set was underpowered for Commander, and undersold. That doesn’t mean everything is cheap, though. Here’s the entire list of cards worth more than $10 right now in nonfoil:

Fourteen cards on this list, while Streets of New Capenna has nine cards, and even Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty has seven. Granted, Baldur’s Gate cards have the assorted variations of the same four Dragons as different entries here, but these are still valid hits on pack openings. 

What we are looking for is that mix of cards that are good in Commander, based on their EDHREC inclusion, aren’t too expensive, and perhaps have some Eternal applications. I don’t worry about Standard these days, and you shouldn’t spec based on that format either.

Remember that EDHREC data is useful but it is also flawed: There’s a bias towards preconstructed deck inclusions, and it only represents the people invested enough to list every single card of theirs. I haven’t listed any of my decks, for instance.

With all of this in mind, let’s look at cards, keeping in mind that for most of these, the Monster Manual Showcase versions are definitely cheaper. If you like those versions, you can stock up, but the prices speak to the average player having a disdain for that, even if it’s cheaper.

Decanter of Endless Water (a quarter to $2.50) – This is strange to me, and I’ve been having difficulty figuring out what is up with this card. The regular version sells 7-8 copies a day around $2, while the foil moves slower. This is clearly for everyone who loves drawing endless cards, but this wasn’t in the precon decks. It’s just popular. If it stays popular, this is probably a buylist play: buy 100 copies for around 30 cents, and when they hit $1.50, sell them all to a buylist for $1 each. Even better if you live near a store, save on shipping!

Jaheira, Friend of the Forest (30 cents to $2) – Giving all tokens this ability to tap for green mana is pretty outstanding, because it’s not just creature tokens, it’s everything. Jace, Mirror Mage tokens. Treasures, Food, Clues! All of them are now Mox Emeralds. There’s already a lot of combos here, and everything that makes tokens gets better with this. I love that sort of open-ended synergy, and I think that this is worth buying in on.

Astral Dragon ($4, no foils) – This set not only gave us the outstanding cycle of Ancient Dragons, but also a few accessory Dragons that I really like long-term. Being from the Commander deck, there’s no foils here or for Brainstealer, but this is another combo-centric card. I’ve already used this on a wide variety of board states, and been pleased at every turn. I fully expect this to be some weird combo in the future, as what it does is quite unique.

Brainstealer Dragon ($3, no foils) – Getting cards for free is exactly what you want from a seven-drop. Sure it’s already a big flyer, but at end of turn, you’re going to exile three cards and be able to play them whenever you want, using any color of mana, and dealing damage to its owner when you do. Winner all around, a cheap card and one I want to have in stock going forward.

Wrathful Red Dragon ($1.50 to $3) – Dragons don’t generally need ‘don’t mess with me’ cards but it’s always nice to have a card that says ‘Even if you block, you’re going to take a pile of damage.’ I also like how this breaks the mirror match for Dragon decks, or turns your Scourge of Kher Ridges into ‘target player takes a boatload of damage.’ For this card, we can get Extended Art foils for crazy cheap, and considering how popular Dragon decks are, this is one of the best to be playing.

Monster Manual ($1.50 to $3) – Quicksilver Amulet has been printed to dust, and will never recover. This is clearly an upgrade, and carries the downside of needing green mana. Still, green decks tend to be chock-full of giant creatures that want to be cheated into play, and this is a great way to do that. Again, we can get the premium foil version for cheap, and that’s where I want to be.

Gond Gate ($1) and Baldur’s Gate (50 cents to $2) – Gate decks will have their day in the sun again. Purchasing these is a gift to yourself when we get our next trip to Ravnica, where both shocklands and Gates will be present yet again. These two Gates are heavily synergistic, and the Gond Gate nullifying Gates’ disadvantage is a big big deal. These sell at a brisk pace now, so stock up while you can.

Nautiloid Ship ($4 to $8) – I know Jason’s mentioned this card once or twice, so let me just add my voice, that this is a phenomenal card and incredibly unfair. A 5/5 flyer with crew 3 is not difficult to get in a hit with, and you don’t even have to hit the player whose graveyard you exiled. Just a fantastic card and one that should be getting a lot more play.

Artificer Class ($5, no foils) – Granted, there’s a long long list of ‘blue cards that are auto-includes in artifact themed decks’ but this deserves to be on the list. It’s not as broken as Foundry Inspector at Level 1, but it gets so much better as you level up. Two mana to draw your next artifact is good, six mana to copy artifacts is outright broken.

Vexing Puzzlebox ($3 to $6) – We’ve gotten a lot of fun with d20 cards, and this one allows for an easy payoff. People aren’t quite as asleep on this mythic, since the FEA is $6, but it’s pretty easy to have this tap to search up an artifact every other turn or so, especially if one of your early finds is for Unwinding Clock or the like. Every dice-rolling card makes this better, so I want to have a few ready for our next set that features the ability.

Pro Trader: The Most Played EDH Cards of 2022

Today I am going to show you the most played EDH cards of 2022. There are some who insist on calling the format “Commander” and I get basically nothing out of being a curmudgeon and insisting on continuing to call it “EDH” except not having to change, which at my age is all the selling point something needs. It was a bad year for people who fear change as collector boosters made foil rares feel worthless, product getting dumped on Amazon made sealed product feel worthless and having to cover 70 new Legendary creatures every 3 weeks made me feel worthless. I know it’s not your problem, but I want to be up-front about my mental health and make it clear that I am not joking that the release schedule had a deleterious effect on mine. Am I a weird outlier because I work 4 jobs in the Magic community and they all want me to write about every set (and every Discord community wants me to hang there, something I can’t physically do)? Or am I canary in a coal mine, signaling that even highly enfranchised and entrenched people like a guy with 2 kids who have Planeswalker names are feeling burnt out? 

What will 2023 bring? They’re hyping the next set as their Avengers: Endgame moment where all of the planar portals jump out and we’re supposed to believe Huatli and Lukka are going to turn the tide. If the set is good, lots of people could start playing Magic. If the set is bad, it will sell a lot, people will complain and 3 weeks later they’ll shell out for the next product. There aren’t any sideways ships in the Suez right now, so I am hoping there will be fewer shipping issues which will cause a bunch of products to stack up at the end of the year like this time. If sets are more spread out, then the format will have “time to work” on the cards that it didn’t get this year. It feels like there are so many EDH decks now that no one card goes up because not enough people build the physical decks they register online because products come out too fast. 

I want to talk about every set that came out in 2022, what the most played card was and whether EDH having so many products could even impact the price of those cards. Let’s get started.

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

No surprises here – Boseiju is number 1 with a bullet but the entire cycle is in the top 20. It’s sad to see highly-played utility rares like Lion Sash and Mirror Box end up bulk rares. The Hidetsugu hunt put so many busted remnants of collector boosters that there is basically no chance. No rare played in fewer than 40k decks is worth more than $2 and that’s pretty scary, frankly. This is why I like finding Scourge Rares that are going to go up because they print a new Cephalid Commander, new sets scare me.

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.

To learn more about being a ProTrader, click here to see all the benefits.

ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

The Math Of Dominaria Remastered

I know that in the current environment, it’s tough to keep track of everything that’s coming out. We’re bombarded every other week or so with previews, leaks, and spoilers, for Secret Lairs, Jumpstarts, Remastered sets, you name it.

Even so, it is my honor to report that there’s a relatively straightforward reprint set coming out January 13, 2023. It’s got some hot reprints, the mythics of which I covered last week, but today I want to break down your odds of pulling the cards you want most. 

So let’s get into the math of the thing, and that’ll allow us to figure out if we want to buy Collector Boosters or singles.

This is the breakdown of what’s in a Collector Booster, and as a result, we can see that all the value is concentrated in the slot with the traditional foil retro frame cards or borderless versions. Lots of sets have variations, but this one is just retro and borderless and that’s it.

Let’s lay out which are which, in terms of rarity and frame.

Retro Frame Rare (60)Retro Frame Mythic (20)Borderless Rare (23)Borderless Mythic (17)
Divine Sacrament
Enlightened Tutor
Glory
Lieutenant Kirtar
Sevinne’s Reclamation
Windborn Muse
Wrath of God
Arcanis the Omnipotent
Denizen of the Deep
Mystic Remora
Mystical Tutor
Opposition
Stroke of Genius
Vexing Sphinx
Body Snatcher
Chainer, Dementia Master
Entomb
Mindslicer
Nantuko Shade
Oversold Cemetery
Royal Assassin
Gamble
Grim Lavamancer
Overmaster
Pashalik Mons
Shivan Dragon
Siege-Gang Commander
Sulfuric Vortex
Arboria
Birds of Paradise
Exploration
Forgotten Ancient
Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse
Saproling Symbiosis
Worldly Tutor
Absorb
Arcades Sabboth
Decimate
Phantom Nishoba
Pyre Zombie
Rith, the Awakener
Sol’kanar the Swamp King
Lyra Dawnbringer
Serra Avatar
Test of Endurance
Force of Will
Time Stretch
Urza, Lord High Artificer
No Mercy
Vampiric Tutor
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Last Chance
Sneak Attack
Worldgorger Dragon
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Nut Collector
Sylvan Library
Hunting Grounds
Gauntlet of Power
Legacy Weapon
Urza’s Incubator
Dark Depths
Enlightened Tutor
Windborn Muse
Wrath of God
Denizen of the Deep
Mystic Remora
Mystical Tutor
Chainer, Dementia Master
Entomb
Oversold Cemetery
Gamble
Grim Lavamancer
Siege-Gang Commander
Arboria
Birds of Paradise
Worldly Tutor
Absorb
Decimate
Helm of Awakening
Jester’s Cap
Lotus Blossom
Triskelion
Gemstone Mine
Maze of Ith
Lyra Dawnbringer
Test of Endurance
Force of Will
Time Stretch
Urza, Lord High Artificer
No Mercy
Vampiric Tutor
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Last Chance
Worldgorger Dragon
Nut Collector
Sylvan Library
Hunting Grounds
Gauntlet of Power
Legacy Weapon
Urza’s Incubator
Dark Depths

Every rare and mythic has a retro version, and 1/3 of the rares also have a borderless. For the mythics, all of them have both a borderless and a retro, except for Serra Avatar, Sneak Attack, and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa.

Given that Wizards is making it easier and easier to build an all-retro-frame Commander deck or Cube, I’m not shocked that there’s a lot more retro than borderless here.

Usually, Wizards collates things so that all copies of a card’s variants total the same amount. That does not appear to be the case this time. When looking over mass cracking data from vendor partners, the variant ratio on non-foil Retro to Borderless, for cards that have both does not look to be equal. Rather, the split seems to be closer to 2 Borderless for every 1 Retro version of a card like Sylvan Library that has both. This effectively means that mythics with both retro and borderless are twice as populous and that the variants don’t split the drop rate as we typically see in CBs.

For example, in the # of CBs one vendor opened, they pulled:

12 Retro Sylvan Library
23 Borderless Sylvan Library
12 Retro Sneak Attack

This suggests that there are actually 3x as many of the mythics and rares that have 2 variants vs. the ones that only have a retro version.

I suspect this is a goof, rather than a change in policy, but as we work with incomplete information, we will update accordingly.

As always, we’re operating on the basic premise that the ratios for cards are the same as a Draft Booster: 10 commons, 3 uncommons, 1 rare or a 50% chance of being a mythic. That’s a 10:3:1:0.5 ratio, but to make things easy, I double it to 20:6:2:1. Translated, for every mythic, there’s 20 copies of a common, there’s 6 uncommons, and two rares.

We’ve got 60 retro rares, 23 borderless rares, 20 retro mythics and 17 borderless mythics, all of which are guaranteed to be foil in this slot. One thing to remember is that the total number of copies is the same for each card at each rarity, even if there’s less version. For example, If this set puts 300 of each mythic out there, that means there’s 150 of the Borderless Foil Lyra Dawnbringer, 150 of the Retro Foil Lyra Dawnbringer, and 300 Retro Foil Sneak Attack.

So when we’re calculating drop rates in this slot, we need to be cognizant of the different versions available.  We also know from vendor experience that the cards with one variant frame are appearing around half as often as the cards with both.

I have changed the table to reflect this.

Chance for getting that card (any version)Chance for getting a specific frameEstimated number of Collector Booster boxes needed for specific frame
Rare with one frame1/701/705.8
Rare with two frames1/701/14011.7
Mythic with one frame1/2801/28023.4
Mythic with two frames1/1401/28023.3

So with this trick of giving almost all the mythics a second frame, they halved the drop rate for each frame. It’s also a great way to keep the price high for the special versions of a card, even if the price for the regular frame drops precipitously. 

A drop rate of one every 280 packs for the rarest mythics is not far off from most of the other sets we’ve had recently, and this set is notably lacking in a subset or a super-mega-rare. There’s no serialized versions, no Lost Legends, no alt-art Japanese Mystical Archive. Let’s have a comparison with other recent sets:

Card/SetCollector Boosters to open one (approx.)Card/SetCollector Boosters to open one (approx.)
Phyrexian Foil Vorinclex (KHM)256Foil Etched Food Chain (2X2)280
Japanese- Language Alternate Art Time Warp Foil (STX:MA)309Red Soft Glow Hidetsugu (NEO)1,828
Foil Extended Art The Meathook Massacre (MID)151Phyrexian Foil Sheoldred, the Apocalypse (DMU)346
Foil Fang Frame Sorin, the Mirthless by Ayami Kojima (VOW)171Phyrexian Foil Ajani, Sleeper Agent (DMU)692
Extended Art Foil Jeweled Lotus (CMR)400Foil Alternate-Art Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim (BRO)299
Phyrexian Foil Urabrask, Heretic Praetor (SNC)492Retro Foil Sulfuric Vortex (DMR)70
Borderless Foil Ancient Brass Dragon (CLB)352Retro Foil Sneak Attack (DMR)140
Phyrexian foil (or foil-etched) Jin-Gitaxias (NEO)544Borderless Foil or Retro Foil Force of Will (DMR)280

Things being not-quite-as-rare to pull from packs doesn’t mean they will be common, though. Remember that this is a reprint set, in between two major releases. I am not expecting this to be a hugely opened set right away, but the initial burst of product, plus the trickle of remaining boxes to open, should keep prices down for a while. As I said last week, I’m not expecting to buy any spec copies for several months, but feel free to grab all the personal copies you want right away.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

MAGIC: THE GATHERING FINANCE ARTICLES AND COMMUNITY