Brainstorm Brewery #315 An Expanded Episode-lit


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Unlocked Pro Trader: Better Bargain to Buy Before the Bottom


I was going to make a huge deal out of the fact that I got a comment on my last article pointing out that they found it informative and helpful and I usually get fewer than three comments on an article (not just here, but on Coolstuff, also) and then I read Adrian Sullivan’s primer from when he won a GP and it had two comments and then I thought “three comments is a lot.” The thing about being a large percentage of the comments I get by virtue of bothering to comment is that I overreact to what can honestly be both construed as “an overwhelming percentage of my feedback” and also “literally two comments” and do what those people say. After all, they wrote in. Accordingly, I’m going to write something I hope is pretty similar to last week’s article and if you don’t like it, blame the people who commented.

Last week I talked about cards that were bound to increase by virtue of having been ruled out of Ultimate Masters before the full set was printed. It was more valuable to Pro Traders on Tuesday than the general public on Thursday but isn’t much good to anyone, now. While I still think “act fast” articles have value because you’re working with information not everyone has if they didn’t sit and think about it and rather than sit and think about it, you paid me to do it for you, which I’m happy to do. However, longer-term forecasts are good, too, because if you know what you want long-term before you crack your first booster, buying, selling and trading will be a lot easier since you don’t have to plan, I planned for you. Let’s talk about the cards in the EDHREC top 100 that are in Ultimate Masters, their rank, their likelihood for another future reprinting and how much we expect their price to recover given those factors. We nailed cards like Rune-Scarred Demon and Austere Command in Iconic Masters, so let’s work the same magic on a set with lower supply. This will make you the least sexy money you’ll ever make, but sexy doesn’t pay the rent, desperate men pay sexy’s rent for sexy. Let’s pay our own rent, shall we?


I realize that EDHREC has a few limitations and I wish people realized I realized that. I’ve been using EDHREC data to crush it at predictions for like 5 years, there’s not much about the site that you’re going to tell me that is going to make me go “Oh man, I’ve been doing it wrong all these years” so let’s assume that until EDHREC starts making me lose people a bunch of money, the data has things we can learn from it. If I say something derived from data that you think is wrong, A) argue with me in the comments and B) you’re under no obligation to buy. The best specs in my opinion are the ones where I say something and it jives with something you already thought but weren’t quite sure of. That’s a spec based on consensus. The Top 100 cards are the most-used cards and they’re ranked 1-100 on the basis of percentage inclusion in eligible decks rather than raw inclusion. Of course Sol Ring is in more decks than Chromanticore, for lots of reasons. However, Blasphemous Act is in 30.705 decks and Solemn Simulacrum is in 281,775 decks but Blasphemous Act is ranked two spots higher. Why? Because more decks could be playing Solemn and aren’t than could be playing Blasphemous Act but aren’t. Capiche? It’s a simple concept but people think I don’t know it so I’m pointing it out. Raw number of decks is very important but it doesn’t tell the whole story, otherwise we’d buy nothing but artifacts. So what from the Top 100 made it into Ultimate Masters?


Demonic Tutor

Rank – 20/100

Demonic Tutor is in a lot of decks. It’s the #1 most-played Black card in terms of raw numbers at over 46,000 which is like… all the black decks. Well, it’s a third of them, but, still. No other card is played in more than a third and this is a card that was $45 on Card Kingdom recently and selling for that price. There weren’t too many judge promo or other versions of the card and with this new art, I expect this to be highly coveted. This is a pretty insane inclusion as a rare in a set with $6 mythics and we’re lucky Wizards wanted us to have such a good set. So how long do we expect to wait for the price to do its thing? Well, if you consider Vampiric Tutor a decent analogue, take a look.

This took between 8 and 12 months to decrease and then rose pretty steadily. There wasn’t a whole ton of money to be made, but if you were buying at buylist or trading cards that didn’t recover as well, you did fine. If we’re talking in at retail, out at retail, someone who played it perfectly bought in around $26 on TCG Player and got out at around $46 on TCG Player, which is nothing to sneeze at. AND it was predictable. When the card his $26 after a few months of sliding, people were happy to sell for $15 cash at the LGS or trade for $25 worth of Modern stuff (so… one Manamorphose?). If you want a Tutor to play with, wait until it bottoms out, note if it starts to rebound and buy double because you’ll pay more if you wait longer and when it doubles up, you can always sell the spare copy and you got the play copy for free. That’s how I roll, anyway. Sexy doesn’t pay my rent, but sexy goes in decks. I think Demonic Tutor follows a similar trajectory, but has a slightly different demand profile.

Also, this will have the most affordable foil copies of this card we’ve ever seen, potentially. All in all, it’s a good look.

Eternal Witness

Rank – 5/100

There isn’t much excuse for not playing this card in a green deck and 42% of all builders couldn’t find one. 56,000 decks is a lot of demand and this card, despite being uncommon and in a precon and printed a ton, manages to shrug off every reprinting. After 7 printings (counting Commander Anthologies 1 and 2) with Terese Nielsen’s art, we get a new take on it and foils of this will be the only foil copies of Eternal Witness with this art in case people like it better. It’s also a box topper promo so not all of the demand for the card will be satiated by older copies which won’t help this shrug off the reprint a ton, but clearly Eternal Witness doesn’t need the help. Printed at uncommon again, I expect this to tank pretty deeply, although this is likely one of the smallest printings of this card to date and there’s a lot of demand.

The cheapest the Fifth Dawn version ever got was the week Modern Masters 2017 came out, which was about a year and a half after the last time Eternal Witness got a reprint of any real size, in Commander 2015. It’s been a while but it didn’t take the price that long to climb back up to where it mostly equilibrated, although it peaked a bit, both times it wasn’t included in a set it probably should have been (Modern Masters 2 and Battlebond). This will be $8 again, and soon, and it will be dirt in the near term unless people overwhelmingly prefer the new art, which they might.

Kodama’s Reach

Rank 10/100


The third and final card from the Top 100 in Ultimate Masters also has brand new art and also shrugs off reprints.  Even at common, foils of this will be desirable and the new art could end up displacing copies in other decks (it will in mine) meaning existing demand could be a booster. At common, this is getting a lot of new copies, but it’s always at common and it seems to recover. It’s at least always a pick, you can ship foils to people who like the new art and in general, it’s worth knowing that this should never be left in draft chaff although it probably will. I seriously get free copies of cards like this all the time by digging through cards players just leave on tables. Grab the good stuff, put the rest in neat piles, start a donation box for new players and look like a good person.

I finished… uh…early. I expected 5 cards and was a little surprised to find only 3. That means to give Pro Traders their money’s worth, I’m doing a bonus section.

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ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

The Watchtower 11/26/18 for ProTraders – Plan Your Specs

By: Travis Allen

Don’t miss this week’s installment of the MTG Fast Finance podcast, an on-topic, no-nonsense tour through the week’s most important changes in the Magic economy.

While you may have been hoping for a shakeup with the banned and restricted list update, alas, it was not to be. Both Krark-Clan Ironworks and Dredge (and Tron) survived unscathed in Modern. Will the Pro Tour be a mountain of uninteractive decks? With several high powered decks all operating on completely different vectors, it may be tough for competitors to find a strategy that beats enough of the linear decks while also managing to play some semblance of its own game.

Reality Smasher (Foil)

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

With Ultimate Masters’ spoiler released in full, we can turn our attention to what’s missing. Among the notable omissions is Reality Smasher. Just in case you’ve forgotten, Eldrazi remains a potent threat in Modern, having taken second in an MTGO Modern Challenge just yesterday (behind Dredge).

With the rise of uninteractive decks, Eldrazi has undoubtedly taken a beating. Where once it was a top metagame choice, it has now slipped to a tier two or three strategy. It may take a banning elsewhere to give the deck space to grow, which after today is at least a few months away. That’s fine though, as it gives us a comfortable entry point.

Looking back on foil Reality Smasher’s price history, we saw it near $25. It floated around $20 as recently as this May. With the rise of KCI, Dredge, and similar strategies, that foil price has fallen to a lowly $8. Given the history of the card, both competitively and financially, it’s not unreasonable to assume it may make those same climbs again. If the Pro Tour sees a volume of Dredge that Wizards deems overbearing, we may see some key bans in January that could lead to a resurgence of Eldrazi.

Mystical Tutor (Foil)

Price Today: $17
Possible Price: $30

Another omission from Ultimate Masters, Mystical Tutor is an incredibly popular spell in EDH. How popular? It’s the 5th most played blue card, and the 43rd most played card overall. That’s popular. To be found within the top 50 means that practically speaking, there are hundreds of thousands of copies to be found in decks across the world.

Mystical Tutor has five various printings, and three come in at foil. That’s worth a closer look though. One is the From The Vault: Realms copy. Even by Wizards’ own admission this foiling process is not particularly popular. (That may be part of the reason we’ve since seen the discontinuation of the FTV series.) And speaking of FTV, its replacement, the signature spellbook, we can find a foil Mystical Tutor there as well. There are two issues with that one; one is that the art is all about Jace. There’s definitely burnout on Jace these days among the player base these days. The second is that the foiling process appears to be even worse than FTV’s. Watch a video of it; you can barely tell it’s foil.

Among the three foil printings of Tutor, two are empirically terrible, which leaves us with just the EMA foil. All of the sudden, we’re looking at a single good foil of one of the most popular foil cards in the game, with solid art to boot. I’m getting on board here.

There’s a couple copies below $18, and a chunk below $20. Not too many though, and the overall supply is relatively shallow. We haven’t seen much price movement over the last two years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean squat. Plenty of cards sit seemingly dormant for months or years at a time, only to suddenly see a otherwise unexplained surge in price. So long as Wizards doesn’t give us another Mystical Tutor, this could be one of those cards.

Bloodghast (Foil)

Price Today: $18
Possible Price: $30

Bloodghast won twice over today; not only is it not in the recently spoiled Ultimate Masters, it also wasn’t hampered by any bans today. He’s got a new lease on life as of 11am EST today, at least until January 21st (the next B&R update).

The math here is simple. Dredge is arguably the most popular deck in Modern right now. Every iteration seems to play four without question. It just dodged a major ban announcement as well as a reprint. Any reluctance on the part of buyers should be assuaged for two months. If a player were thinking about whether to pick up a set of ghasts, they’ve gotten all the messaging they need to take the plunge.

Zendikar foils are hanging around at $35, and IMA is half of that at $17 or $18. We shouldn’t expect IMA foils to fully catch Zendikar ones, as original foils always maintain a premium, but there’s plenty of room between $18 and $35. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Zendikar foils pull up towards $40 or more, and IMA foils trail at low $30s.

Travis Allen has  been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.


Crunching the Box Toppers, part 2

Welcome back, everyone. Last week I started going through predictions for all the Ultimate Box Toppers, and I stopped at 1500 words. Now for the rest of the cards!

Gaddock Teeg ($80): Did you know how frequently this big little guy shows up in Humans sideboards? And Bant Spirits? And Collected Company builds? I didn’t know he was this popular. Interestingly for his Boxterpiece price, he’s only in 400 EDH decks, and that’s the bigger surprise. All of the eBay auctions for him so far have ended up right at $80, but his non-promo price is much more due to the small supply than a great demand. This version has farther to fall, likely to $60.

Leovold, Emissary of Trest ($150): Much of his early listings were for obscene numbers and then offers were accepted, but some closed above $200, he’s settled down here into $150, and I don’t know where the demand will come from. Two things have knifed this Elf in the back: Getting the Commander ban in April of last year, or Deathrite Shaman being banned in Legacy this past July.

In fact, let’s take a look at his price graph:

Designed for Tiny Leaders. Press F to pay respects.

Ol’ Leo just isn’t popular, and I’m not sure who these folks are that are paying $150 for this version. Original Conspiracy 2 foils are super pricey due to a very small supply, but I don’t think there will be enough demand to keep his price over $75. The regular versions are going to take a beating, too, ending up at $10 or less.

Lord of Extinction ($50): This was one of my pet cards for the longest time in Commander, but it needs help. It’s potentially huge, yes, and awesome to sacrifice, but on its own it is quite meh. The good news is that it’s just popular enough to not be the cheapest of the Boxterpieces, and it’ll trickle down into the $40 range.

Maelstrom Pulse ($60): Let’s take a moment and reflect on how this was in Alara Reborn, and Modern Masters 2013, and then the GP promo, and an Invocation, and now this. That’s a lot of incidental supply over the years, and yet the value has stayed relatively steady. It’s going to end up around the Invocation price, but hopefully higher, because I despise the illegible Invocations.

Sigarda, Host of Herons ($70): Early auctions closed closer to $150, but there’s a copy of this still on TCG at $70…so it’s got farther to fall. It’s not huge in Commander, not used in Modern, and so I’d expect it to end up below $50.

Fulminator Mage ($80): Remarkably, people have kept their heads on eBay for this card, not letting it go much over $100. It was in Modern Masters 2015 as a mere rare, and the 2015 version put a lot more into circulation than the 2013 or 2017 editions. It’s a popular sideboard card in Modern, given that it’s a Stone Rain on legs, and I think $80 is going to hold.

Kitchen Finks ($70): Another very popular sideboard card, this one is also used in more than a few infinite-life combos, in Modern and Commander. This will be the third printing at uncommon, but this special version is used in enough places that I think $70 is a good and stable price.

Engineered Explosives ($140): One of the great tricks to this card is not just that it’s versatile, but it’s also precise at the same time. It goes into any deck, and many many decks take advantage of this. The regular versions have gotten up to $60-$70, but my attention is on the Invention version at $160. I’m willing to believe that there are going to be more Boxterpiece versions than Inventions printed, and I think that will lead to a slight decrease in this card’s price. I’d expect it to settle in between $100 and $120.

Mana Vault ($160): Again, we have an Invention for comparison’s sake, going for about $180. This is in 23,000 Commander decks online, a number I found stunning and then I realized that it’s fast, easy, combo-oriented mana. My bias as a player from early in the game shows here: I have trouble thinking of Fourth Edition cards as ever being valuable, but this one is more than $20. It’s the most valuable card in Fifth Edition! Here’s the graph:

It’s faster mana than Sol Ring, even if it’s not good more than once.

Where will this special promo end up price-wise? I’m not sure. It’ll be more common and less aesthetically pleasing than the Invention, so I’d expect it to be $125 or so.

Platinum Emperion ($75): This is not a terribly popular card, only found in 3k Commander decks online and one nifty Madcap Experiment combo in Modern. The price has slowly climbed over the years, but the early eBay sales of $75-$100 were the lucky ones. There’s a copy right now on TCG for $60, and the slide isn’t done. It’ll stabilize around $40-$50.

Ancient Tomb ($175): You can have the Expedition version, a likely rarer card, for $225, but there’s one Boxterpiece on TCG for $150. On EDHREC, a full 23,000 decks are running this, and your supply is surprisingly constrained: original Tempest. FTV: Realms, the Expedition, and now this. There’s some Legacy demand too, mainly from Eldrazi decks and Sneak and Show, decks trying to accelerate into broken spells. I like $150 for this, it sees enough play to hold a price that high.

Cavern of Souls ($200, though a wide range of sales, $180 and $260 being the two most recent): If you’d asked me which was more popular in Commander, this or Ancient Tomb, I would have said Cavern, as it’s amazing in every tribal deck ever…but it’s under 20k decks. Go figure. Two TCG sellers have this at $250, and clearly no one is biting there. It’s also in 10% of all Modern decks on top of that, and the combination of casual demand and Constructed playability (even Legacy and Vintage, to make sure Eldrazi aren’t getting countered) and you have a card that I think can hold at or near $200.

Celestial Colonnade ($150): The most recent sale was $120, but the rest were $150, and that forecasts what’s going to happen here. It’s in some Commander decks, it’s popular in Modern control decks that don’t want to waste deck space on attackers, but that leads to a problem with not very high demand. The regular nonfoils had made it to $60, but those hadn’t been printed since original Worldwake in 2010. It’s going to fall farther, and I expect it to settle around $75.

Creeping Tar Pit ($80): Every problem that Colonnade has, Tar Pit has worse. Low Commander demand, miniscule Modern demand, and a price that had been high because it hadn’t been reprinted since the small set of 2010. The ‘manlands’ are in for a rough time, and there’s just enough demand to keep this in third place. You’ll be able to buy the promo for $50.

Dark Depths ($200): This one confuses me, but that’s what small sample sizes do. The first couple went for $300, then down to $150, now back up to $200. Here’s the graph for the original from Coldsnap:

Let’s not forget: FTV is ugly as sin.

August 2016 was when FTV: Lore came out, and added copies to circulation. Depths is in about 10% of Legacy decks, and slightly more Commander decks than Colonnade or Tar Pit. The Legacy demand is going to be the main driver of prices, I imagine, and since decks won’t play just one (usually 3-4 copies) that will help with the price somewhat. TCG has one available at $175, but it’ll drop another $50 or so.

Karakas ($150): Once, the original Legends version was at $150, and the judge promo at $200. Now, no version is over $90, all thanks to Eternal Masters. This is going to get hammered as a nonfoil, dropping to $25ish, but the promo is a tricky question. Not a lot of Legacy players will be running out to get more copies, and it’s rightfully banned in Commander. It’s going to fall, but how far? Is this more or less common than the promo from 2012? How about the original in 1994? I think that novelty will keep it around $75-$100.

Lavaclaw Reaches ($40): The new version of ‘may you live in interesting times’ is ‘I hope all your Toppers are Lavaclaws!’ because this is the turd in the punchbowl. Someone’s got to be at the bottom, and you can get a playset on TCG for $120 right now. I hope $30 is the bottom, but I won’t be shocked it it’s $20. No one plays it!

Raging Ravine ($75): Modern Jund plays a couple of these, and that’s about it. It’s a useful land for that deck, after you’ve emptied them of resources your lands beat down quite effectively. That being said, it’s going to fall as well, to $40 or perhaps even $30.

Stirring Wildwood ($50): The eBay prices are misleading, as you can also get this playset on TCG for $120. It’s a race to the bottom between this and Lavaclaw. Godspeed, both of you.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth ($100): Planar Chaos, Magic 2015, FTV: Realms and now this. That’s a lot of printings, and none are over $60, even in foil. The most popular use, by far, is the combo with Cabal Coffers in Commander. The Tomb is in 45,000 decks online, and don’t forget its uses in Legacy, where it lets Eye of Ugin tap for mana. Still, with original pack foils at $60, I have a hard time seeing this keep this price. It’ll fall a little, maybe to $80.

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, 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 (next up: Oakland in January!) and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.