Tag Archives: Commander 2016

PROTRADER: PucaPicks for 11/3/16

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So Commander 2016 lands in a week, and maybe some of you are checking your big box stores early. It’s not unheard of for them to stock these a day or two ahead of schedule.

This week I want to look at the listed prices and see where I can either buy low or sell high, even though you can’t quite get your hands on these yet, I like to plan ahead.

I want to be clear that if you can buy the decks on the first day, and then move out the singles, I don’t think that’s a winning play…mostly. The postage rate is going to be pretty high, unless you’ve got a great source for stamps, or you know someone who wants most of a deck.

That being said, these decks have a ton of value, and a lot of potential. Some people, who get stamps through work or some such, are going to really turn their $30 msrp into an easy 6000 points, but I just don’t have the time for that. If you do, more power to you. I’m properly envious of those who have the stamps and the spare time.

On to the cards!

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Early Commander 2016 Results!

I have been really hoping for awesome things from Commander 2016, and frankly, it’s not disappointing. I love how Wizards has identified this niche and gives us all sorts of fun toys to play with.

What I’m really looking for is how much I’m willing to spend on singles. Until I have a decklist, I don’t know what I’m buying and I’m not willing to spend $30 on a deck and send out $35 worth of PucaPoints. Postage will eat up my margins.

I’m also nervous about knowing how many of each card is going to be printed. The markings of Mythic, Rare, Uncommon and Common don’t mean much when they are printed in equal numbers. I need to know if some of these are in multiple decks! I doubt it, but I’m not assuming anything.

To be clear, I doubt that much from this set is going to have a high price anytime soon. Commander 2015’s big winner is Mystic Confluence at $9. The 2014 version has multiple cards over $10, but the biggest is a reprint: Wurmcoil Engine. Even True-Name Nemesis, the headliner of Commander 2013, is only $14.

There are two things I want to be aware of: The prices that will fall, and the prices that will eventually rise.

Most of the cards in this set are going to fall in price, and fall hard. Others are going to trail off, after an initial burst. So what’s going to be the Blade of Selves?

blade freyalise

I liked picking up the Blade when it was a little over $10, but we have gotten to a point that after a year, people who wanted them immediately got them, and then those who sort of wanted it got theirs, and now we are at the lowest demand.

So the most expensive cards in this set are going to drop in price unless something gooses the price, which is usually Legacy demand. Containment Priest hit $50 for one weekend. True-Name Nemesis caused Wizards to adjust how many of which deck they printed.

Patience can pay off, though, if you’re willing to think in longer terms. Here’s Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury.

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She hasn’t gone up enormously yet, but she’s crept upward, a trend that I want to be aware of.

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The individual legends are going to be pretty solidly average in price. You’re going to see a lot of them that are between $3 and $7, and I don’t think that any of the ones spoiled are going to light up the Commander world. Perhaps I just can’t pick out the Meren of Clan Nel Toth, or the Nekusar, the Mindrazer out of this batch?

With this in mind, let’s look at some spoilers!

Deepglow Skate – So far, this is the card that I think is going to gain the most value right away, partially because it’s a single color (and not green for this effect!) and partially because it’s downright amazing. I am in love with this card and it’s going to go into a range of decks. If this is only in the non-red deck, then it’s going to immediately jump and decline over time. This will definitely be a long-term pickup for me.

Prismatic Geoscope – Look, we know Gilded Lotus is a good card. It’s worth considering as a first pick in a Cube, and this card is potentially better. It’s a big drawback that it enters tapped, but the potential to tap for four or five mana for only costing five, that’s a big, big jump for the mana-hungry five color decks. There’s a good chance that this is in more than one of the 2016 decks, and if it is, it’ll have a hard time keeping its price.

Vial Smasher the Fierce – While I don’t know how good this is going to be in Commander four-player games, I’m awfully intrigued by how good it might be in Legacy decks. Adding damage to the first spell a turn is tempting indeed, though I might be dreaming. Likely stays under $3.

Conqueror’s Flail – I love what this offers me, a way for a creature-heavy deck to resist really annoying cards like Cyclonic Rift or Batwing Brume. I suspect this will be a popular card but not world-shattering, and have a relatively low price. It’s solid, being +2/+2 or more for a mere two to play and two to equip, but the way it prevents interaction is the real selling point. Solid in the long-term.

Faerie Artisans – Oh this card. I want to be all over this card and sing its praises to the heavens, but the truth of the matter is that when it’s in play, your opponents will almost never play their awesome creatures with amazing enters-the-battlefield effects. It’s a rattlesnake of a card, warning them off and probably not doing much. If you are into slowing the game down this might be more your style, but this will never be expensive.

Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist – I like this as a sort of fixed Sygg, River Cutthroat, but this is another one that is really intriguing when there’s less players. It can’t draw you cards at the same rate Sygg can, but the way it pays people off for attacking each other is like a lightweight Edric, Spymaster of Trest. Still, he will probably stay super cheap.

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Whatchu’ Be Knowing ‘Bout a Wedge?

Speculation is sometimes indistinguishable from guessing. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen so we try to make educated guesses based on data and go from there and it usually pays dividends. Other times, we get a hot tip and have enough time to act before everyone else and we get paid out. Other times, we think we’re on to something and end up writing a bunch of articles about the two-color decks in Commander 2016 because we take what MaRo says a little too seriously sometimes. What are the alternatives? Buying re-actively? That doesn’t work in our favor. When someone else makes a card spike or we are behind the curve and some new event changes prices, all we do by buying at that point is enrich someone else and run the risk of holding copies we can’t move.

Since we’re never going to benefit by buying re-actively (seriously, stay away from spikes like this) we need to buy pro-actively. For reference, this is not a $5 card. This already spiked once when they first released Laboratory Maniac. It’s been 5 years since then. The card has gone back down and hasn’t done dick since, yet the internet is full of people saying “ZOMG IT COMBOZ WITH LABRATORY MANNIAC” and buying copies. Since this is a second spike, it’s going to be harder than the first time but ultimately, unless this is predicated on a leaked card from Commander 2016 that only certain people got a sneak peak at, this isn’t going to do anything. Yes, it is good in Zedruu. It was just as good in Zedruu last week when it was a dollar. Stop being a goddamn sheep.

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So since it’s easy to identify cards that are a bad buy because you’d be buying re-actively and not pro-actively, what are some cards we should look at while we still have time?

I am going to take a second crack at the whole “What does the color wheel tell us about what could be in Commander 2016?”

This Time Will Be Different

Look, I was super wrong about Commander 2016 being two-color decks and that’s hilarious. A few people said “Why are you doing this so early?” and I always responded “It’s never too early” and I guess I was right because it looks like those articles helped you get a jump on Commander 2017.  Now that we know that Commander 2016 is going to be four-color decks, what can the wiki articles tell us?

There isn’t one. Uh oh.

How do we figure out what these four-color wedges even do? It’s almost easier to talk about what they don’t do because they’re basically everything but missing one color. So maybe the WUBR wedge is good at everything except mana ramp, fat creatures and regrowth effects? That’s stupid and unhelpful.

Could we try and combine a bunch of the Shards of Alara or Khans of Tarkir wedges? Again, I don’t think so. Is the WUBR wedge really good at artifacts, powering creatures with instants, attacking with warriors, etc? There has to be a way we can glean something. Without any guidance from the color wheel or previous wedges and with the whole “eliminate one color and remove the things it does well” prospect being almost as unhelpful as saying “the new cards can do anything.” I’m not about that life, so I’m going to suggest something pretty unorthodox. I’m going to look at the one four-color wiki we do have.

This one right here.

“You’re Insane”

Maybe? But maybe, just maybe, we’ll hit on something that looks strong, actionable and makes logical sense. After all, the people designing this set probably felt as clueless and overwhelmed when they first started trying to construct this set, right? They had just as little to go on as we do, and while they had a lot of smart people at WotC to bounce their ideas off of, including the people who initially designed the game and made the color wheel what it is today, I think we can take a crack at it. Besides, the color wheel basically was what it was when they first printed Nephilim, right? Granted, both sets of three-color wedges came after Ravnica, but I think that didn’t change that much. I think looking at each Nephilim and its abilities should tell us something. 

Yore-Tiller

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We’re not off to a good start. Like, at all.

I kind of tend to doubt the new commander will be exactly like this. But what can we glean that can teach us what it might be like? Putting stuff into play feels white and black, giving it haste feels red, what does blue have to do with any of this? The only thing about this that feels blue is paying four mana for a 2/2 creature.

Still, a lot of people seem to think the Nephilim will be in the deck, so the deck will likely be set up to benefit from having it in there, otherwise what’s the point?

So I looked at like a dozen decks that use this card (house rules) as their commander and basically all they agree on is Ashen Rider and Snapcaster Mage, 50% of which I agree with. If you’re going to play blue, play Snapcaster at all times, clearly. Buying him back gives you additional value, but getting him back with Yore-Tiller feels underwhelming since he’s so small. I like other cards with that effect. Here are some cards that could get a second look specifically in a deck that does things like Yore-Tiller is doing and is set up to benefit from having Yore-Tiller in the deck.

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This has decent reprint risk and will never be above bulk if it’s reprinted, but if it isn’t, I think we have a winner. I like Diluvian Primordial, also, but milling people with this guy could be killer. No one wants to try and cast this beast of card because it would be pretty tough to try, but if we’re reanimating him, suddenly he looks manageable. He could be Diluvian Primordial number 2 in a deck that doesn’t like to summon stuff.

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This card is sure taking its time, huh? Goody, more time for me to trade for these. I’m not going hard because of the reprint risk, but I think this is a great card and I like it a lot in EDH and it would be killer in a reanimator deck.

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You want a big, fat yard? Since there aren’t as many reanimator decks that use blue compared to other color combinations, this is a relatively-overlooked card, used more often to mill you out so you can win with Laboratory Maniac. Still, if you have blue in your reanimator deck, like I expect the WUBR deck to be (at least as a subtheme) this is a good enabler. At mythic it has a little more upside than rares in Innistrad played the same amount and if this gets a nudge, we could see the price go up to remind us that it’s been 5 years since Innistrad was out. That’s a long time for a mythic that has seen play in combo decks.

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This little guy sure is creeping up, isn’t he? Don’t expect that to stop. I think this has relatively-low reprint risk coupled with a strong ability coupled with some potential upside from a Yore-Tiller type of deck. I think this is a pretty strong card, and at a $3-$5 buy-in, it’s going to be pretty hard to get soaked on this one. I think you just watch this creep up and sweat a reprint a bit, but not too much. This is a low priority reprint in terms of price and there aren’t too many things that they will do that will want this ability in the deck with it. I think you can wait to make sure this isn’t in the deck and then move in, but it pays to pay attention to this card.

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So apparently this effect is basically mono-black and the other colors in Yore-Tiller are along for the ride? I think this has decent reprint risk in a world where it’s not on the reserved list, which means that people might stumble across it when trying to tune their precon and be forced to buy this since it can’t be reprinted which could give it upside. The card is basically stagnant right now, and with white and blue letting you blink the the creature and therefore keep it, you could get quite a bit of value from something. Corpse Dance a Snapcaster, blink it, keep it. Cast a ton of spells, find a way to kill Snapcaster or target something else. I like this card and being on the RL means it’s only going to climb if it gets more play. It’s severely underplayed now, appearing in just 312 decks on EDHREC, but it’s not currently played in decks that are equipped to blink the creature and keep it, and this unique color combination is a game-changer for this particular card.

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Maybe not. But maybe. Saccing the creatures isn’t much of an impediment if you can keep getting them back, and getting multiple attacks with Yore-Tiller can give you enough dudes to keep swinging for a long time. This is an old bulk rare that is about to get a second look, provided it doesn’t also get a second printing.

Glint-Eye Nephilim

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I think it’s more obvious what kind of deck could be built with this combination. If you’re looking at “on-hit” triggers, it makes sense that we could be dealing with giving creatures unblockability, shadow, etc. UB and UG have both done this sort of thing and perhaps and enchantment could grant all of your creatures the same ability Glint-Eye has or something crazy like that. If that sounds too good, remember it would likely cost UBRG, so maybe it wouldn’t be too good after all.

Not only is it easier to see how they would construct a deck that vibed with what this card is up to, it’s pretty easy to see which cards would be good with that deck and aren’t super likely to be in the precon.

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Cards like this make me wish I’d given a crap about EDH earlier. This is going to keep going up until they reprint it. I used to get these in bulk, but those days are long gone. This is EDH gold and players know it.

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Even if this isn’t the exact card we want, we’re on to something, here.

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I don’t know if this card is quite the one we’re looking for, but here’s hoping this gets reprinted in something soon. This card is too expensive for what it is. Planechase stuff sure is pricey sometimes!

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This is a card that does a lot of work in a deck like this. Skipped over for a reprint in the Golgari Commander 2015 deck, I don’t know if it’s more likely to be in the Commander 2016 decks. This probably just goes up another few bucks when it’s not reprinted for at least another year. Although, Conspiracy is an OK place to jam this, so it might get a printing this year after all. Still, if the UBRG deck is anything like the Nephilim it’s colored like, this card will do work.

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This is a card that does a lot of work if we’re trying to load up on unblockable dudes and hit them. The FTV foil is terrible but the printing brought the Portal, Three Kingdoms version down to like 13 bucks.

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I can explain this card being under $5 by pointing out this was in a Planechase deck. I can’t explain the foil only being $6. That makes no sense to me. The multiplier shouldn’t be below 2x on a card this good in EDH. If you’re hitting them unblockably with big creatures, this is dumb. Its price is the only thing more dumb. Sure, you’ll want a ton of swords like Vengeance, Body and Mind and War and Peace, but, come on. Quietus Spike is so good in EDH. Here’s hoping the prevalence of lifegain coupled with the new trend toward sneaky combat makes this quietus spike in price.

I should have said up front this would be a two-parter. These almost always are when we need to cover 5 different wedges. Join me next week and use the comment section to express your gratitude for me not turning this into a five-parter, something I feel I would have been justified in doing. Until next time!

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Prescience – Discussing Commander 2016

I make  a lot of predictions in my articles as a matter of course and sometimes I really nail it. I don’t like to toot my own horn because I feel like that’s a sign of insecurity. When you point out all the calls you got right, you’re hoping you can distract everyone from the calls you got wrong. I’m not like that, you guys – you all read this column and you notice all the times I nail it.

Still, sometimes it’s worth reminding everyone of the really good calls you make so that they understand why you’re someone they should listen to. If you can demonstrate your usefulness and almost uncanny ability to predict the future, you can build an audience. It is in that spirit that I write this piece today.

In which I demonstrate my predictive powers

Until this week, there wasn’t much known about Commander 2016. We knew what had been in previous sets so we could pretty safely rule out them repeating color combinations before they had exhausted all of the existing combinations. The only two left were four-color decks and the remaining five, two-color (allied) decks. Monday came and buried in an avalanche of announcements was a blurb about Commander 2016.

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Did you miss it? Apparently WotC decided that using their website that people check regularly to make announcements at a steady pace is for losers so they are going to make their announcements quarterly to throw the finance markets into turmoil and have us get all of our excitement out of the way 4 times a year so we can spend the next three months noticing some random twelve-year-old kid opening Hearthstone packs on Twitch is getting 10 times as many viewers as the Magic Pro Tour.

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Apparently we get things we long clamor for. Commander 2016 is going to feature four-color decks. Do you know what this means?

I totally nailed Commander 2017. While everyone was trying to figure out what was going to be in Commander 2016, I already got started with a series of articles delving into the implications of the allied, two-color decks in Commander 2017. I realize it was incredibly prescient of me to start talking about something that’s 15 months in the future, but how are we supposed to make any money if we don’t look ahead? When you fail to plan, you plan to fail, and I am planning years into the future and sharing those insights with my readers. You heard it here first – Commander 2017 will be allied-color deck combinations. You can even read about what is likely to be in the Azorius deck right here on MTG Price. I’ll try to avoid re-posting those same articles in a year.

My brilliant deductions aside, let’s speculate a bit. I’ll open the floor to pretend questions.

“You biffed it pretty hard on predicting what would be in Commander 2016.”

That’s not a question. Next question.

“You biffed it pretty hard on predicting what would be in Commander 2016, didn’t you?”

I mean, I guess. Was it a 50/50 call that I got wrong? Yep. Did anyone lose money? No. Did I say anything that we can’t act on next year? Probably not. Is it still super early? Yes. What I wanted to do was help us think about how to get ready for Commander 2016 and while I didn’t get confirmation that the assumptions I’ve been operating under were correct, I came to a conclusion based on logic, and no one made a compelling case that I missed something major or was thinking illogically. No one challenged my assumption because it was both logical and kind of unimportant. Now we know more information and we can operate under a new assumption. Every time we get more information, we can get more specific in our actions. While I called the coin flip the most wrong you can call it, I’m just too excited to be getting four-colored decks to even give a crap about that.

“You CLEARLY did not have insider information. Did anyone?”

don’t think so, but there is some evidence that would suggest otherwise.  Travis Allen expressed his opinion as succinctly as is possible.

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I am not so sure people knew, or at least that they knew we were getting four-color decks. It’s always possible that the people who bought hard into the Nephilim were simply speculating. However the price rises are all pretty significant and we need to ask ourselves what they knew and what could happen, here. There are a few scenarios.

  • The Nephilim are in the decks
  • The Nephilim aren’t in the decks
  • The Nephilim are in the decks and whoever is buying knew that
  • The Nephilim are in the decks and whoever is buying didn’t know
  • The Nephilim aren’t in the decks and whoever is buying knew
  • The Nephilim aren’t in the decks and whoever is buying didn’t know

We can discount a few. If you know the Nephilim are in the decks, you’re not going to buy knowing they’re getting a reprint. Is this a case of insider info or just a spec that looks prescient in hindsight? Whoever they are, they’re going to be hard-pressed to find buyers right now. No one is going to buy these copies before they know for sure they’re not in the decks if they’re an EDH player, so they’re hoping to find a greater fool to dump the copies to. This looks like a really bad spec under those circumstances. Do other speculators even have any money left after they spent all of their capital making Steamflogger Boss spike to $15?

What I will say is that we can figure out how high the Nephilim can possibly go if they’re not reprinted.

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This is every card in Guildpact that is worth more than $4. There are still a lot of the lesser Nephilim available but Yore-Tiller, arguably the best one (arguably) is sold out under $3. How high do we see these going? Are you going to be happy you bought in around $3 if they don’t exceed Ghostway, Ghostway being a card that spiked because of Modern and not EDH like everyone thinks. I’d say $8 is a safe ceiling if they’re not reprinted.

If they are reprinted, the money is going to be in the foil copies, but EDH players don’t really foil stuff out like the myths about EDH players would like everyone to believe. Your Commander still won’t be foil, and the rest of a four-color deck is going to be ridiculous to foil out. Sure, you snapped up that sweet $4 Witch Maw Nephilim with your inside info/ballsy gamble. Good luck on the foil Chromatic Lantern and Coalition Relic. I think the odds of getting blown out on a reprint are much greater than your odds of doubling up. If you can’t get in at a low-risk buy like $1 (and you’re not doing that online, but locally is still an option) stay away. Original printings aren’t coveted over new printings in EDH the way they are in Legacy or Cube; the cheapest version is.

“What are we going to do for mana?”

The question on everyone’s mind is about Chromatic Lantern. It is ridiculous at turning mana issues into “I’m just going to tap the number of lands this spell requires” and that’s a great feeling. Lantern is a big unknown right now.

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This spiked to $10 when they announced you could pay mana of a color not in your deck in the corner cases where you’re playing your opponents’ spells. It was already a card that would have been $10 eventually and a small amount of people saying “We should look at this” gave it the nudge it needed. People are buying these at the new price even if vendors haven’t caught up in raising their buylist price quite as quickly. If they do, this could be potentially very bad for the price. A second spike would be higher and harder because there aren’t loose copies in binders to soak up the demand like there are during an initial spike and dealers holding most of the copies means there is less of a race to the bottom. If Lantern is confirmed not in any of the decks, we could see it flirt with $20, which seems absurd for a recent non-mythic, but, have you read Chromatic Lantern? It’s so good.

The bad news is that if Lantern is in one deck, it probably won’t be enough to do much to the price.

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This is after 6 printings, 5 of which were in supplemental product.  I see three scenarios for Lantern.

  • It’s not in a deck and it hits $20
  • It’s in one deck only or maybe two and stays around $10
  • It’s in all 5 decks and comes down a bit

Before we conclude that there is a 66% chance you make money or break even buying in at $10, we should weigh the probabilities. I don’t think it will be in only one deck, personally. The other decks will have identical mana issues. Does one deck get lantern, one get Coalition Relic and the rest get something like Commander’s Sphere? I feel like Lantern is going to be in most of the decks or none of them. There is always the possibility that they print a new card that’s even better than Lantern and is specific to Commander, but even that wouldn’t make Lantern obsolete. I see a lot of scenarios where you lose money waiting and not too many where you lose much buying now. I hate to say it, but my analysis is maybe don’t wait on Lantern. That said, know that if you don’t buy now, you’re going to get something to help out with your mana issues. It may be a new card, it may be lantern or relic, there will likely be a land to help, too. Help is coming.

“Are the commanders going to be 4 color or mono-color with off-color activations?”

That’s half of what I think is the eternal question. The other half is “are we really getting 15 brand new four-color legendary creatures?” In the past we have gotten two new commanders and one reprint of a legendary creature in those colors who could sub in for the other two to take the lead. Are we getting three commanders per deck? 2 commanders and a reprinted Nephilim that can’t be the commander unless you play with a cool playgroup? Will they errata the Nephilim? Because they said they never would.

Fifteen new Legendary creatures would be just so many. 10 is a lot, but 15 is 50% more and that’s a lot of work for them. The good thing is that if we just have 5 more mediocre ones that usual, the people who want to build that deck can and it won’t affect much. Build your Arjun the Shifting Flame deck, kiddo. But if there are more good commanders than normal, that could have implications if more decks are built than normal. I honestly think that won’t be too much of an issue – the market can withstand a little pressure from more decks being built, otherwise The Gitrog Monster (which seems like it could have been designed for Commander 2015 but not fit in) would have spiked the price of Sol Ring or something equally silly.  So when people ask if we’re getting a 4-color creature or a mono-colored creature with off-color activations making it four-color via the Thelon of Havenwood rule, I say I think we’re getting both. One of each, and I think maybe a second of one of the two or maybe only two new commanders. It’s hard to know, but we’re looking at broad strokes right now.

“What else are we going to do for mana?”

Really quickly, pop on EDHREC.com and look at what goes in the mana base for a 5-color Commander because I bet people use something similar to solve their mana issues for 4-color decks.

Check out Reaper King, for example.

I see Vivids, which makes sense since they’re free. I see tri-lands, which have their own challenges vis-a-vis a three color deck. If you’re 5 colors, you can run every tri-land. If your deck is every color but red, you run every tri-land that doesn’t have red in it. Well, only 3 don’t have red and the same obviously goes for every other color. You’re limited to three tri-lands but this should still put some pressure on those prices. If you’re a three color deck, you can only run one tri-land, so in a way, a four-color deck is three times as effective at pulling tri-lands off of store shelves. Reflecting Pool, City of Brass, Mana Confluence all have upside, but they all also have reprint risk, especially as cheap as cards like Exotic Orchard are. Shocks and fetches have some upside, but other formats need those and the blip from EDH demand shouldn’t move the needle on those.

  • Stay away from Nephilim
  • Maybe get your Chromatic Lanterns, and maybe your Coalition Relics, too. If you can’t live without them, that is, and if you’re ruling out the possibility we’ll get something better.
  • Mana bases need help. They’ll get help, but a lot of the lands we already have could help out.

I think I am going to look more in-depth at what I expect to see in the decks and now that they’ve revealed this much, I expect to see a bit more revealed in the weeks to come. They need to hurry if they’re going to be at all gradual in how they give us information. Still, I’m happy we’re getting four-color decks, if only because it allows me to show off how good I am at predicting the (distant) future. Until next week!

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