How about that? Magic prices have been going crazy over the past few weeks, and a lot of it is thanks to the Eternal Masters Announcement that I personally haven’t really talked about a whole lot. I’ve been more focused on casual hits and collection grinding recently to worry about that kind of stuff, although I did enjoy the jumps on a few Legacy staples. Thankfully, the market that I want to talk about today moves a lot slower than the more competitive land of 4-ofs. While the wake-up call of “Reserved List is here to stay” has driven some interesting Legacy prices spikes, I’m happy to say that Commander has so far remained relatively untouched. If you’re someone who’s been on the fence about certain Commander staples for a while, let me be one of the first to say that you don’t have a lot of time left.
First, let me address some of the reasons for speculating on cards when their sole demand comes from singleton formats like Commander, Cube, and Tiny Lea-hahahaha…. Sorry, I couldn’t write that with a straight face. Anyway, let’s say for example that you buy 9x SP copies of Volrath’s Stronghold for $21.29 each. You know that it’s a powerful staple in almost every black Commander deck, and you’ve jammed it in at least a few Cube drafts before. According to EDHrec, Stronghold sees play in 10% of all decks that can support it. While this isn’t close to the numbers of staple cards like Eternal Witness or Sol Ring, it’s still a strong showing and a versatile card.
You did so because you’ve been noticing the supply dwindle on TCGplayer from 48 sellers with no price filters, all the way down to 30 sellers as of 3/1/2016. You want to check vendor confidence in the card, so you check SCG’s storefront and their buylist. They’re currently out of stock on Volrath’s Stronghold at $30, and their buylist for NM copies is $17.50, which is 75% of the TCGmid price today. Starcity wants more Strongholds, so I’m going to follow suit.
One of the problems in speculating on a 1-of wonder is the inability to unload a significant amount of copies relatively quickly. Patience is a virtue when dealing with Commander cards and finding the right buyer for them, because we’re not shipping them out in playsets or selling into the hype from tournament results. We have to accept the slow trickle of sales as they come, and that type of strategy certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s probable that this is not the single best Magic: The Gathering card to buy right now if you’re looking to make a huge amount of money in a short period of time (In other words, it’s not the next City of Traitors where you can easily sell playsets to aspiring Legacy players). However I think it’s safe to say that cards like Volrath’s Stronghold and Earthcraft are some of the safest buys you can make at the moment (Except bulk rares!), especially if you intend to jam them into your Commander decks for the next year or so.
I sometimes obsess over cards that I speculate on, because I’m that confident in them. Many of the cards that I buy in collections and set aside for later have an “Eh, maybe one day” feel attached to them (Breaking // Entering, Seance, and Aggressive Mining are some of the forerunners in this category). However, the rest are the vocal majority that I’ve chosen to write about. I like to break down as many aspects of the card as possible, and keep my finger on the pulse day after day to check any minuscule change. Noticing the small 2-3% increases in price day after day is often the sign of an incoming spike in the near future.
While this spreadsheet model is far from perfect, I think it’s a decent representation of the factors that I’m trying to keep track of in my single-card case studies. Creating an “MTGfinance” routine in the morning can take less than ten minutes; simply scroll through Twitter, check your mtgstocks interests, and take quick glances at the applicable pieces of information in the spreadsheet above.
So Other than Stronghold….
Oh, right. Volrath’s Stronghold is obviously not the only card that we need to keep our eyes on here.
Is “Buy reserved list cards” going to be earth-shattering news to anyone with a cardboard cutout degree in Magic finance? No, of course not. You all have already made your money on Mox Diamond and City of Traitors, so these singletons are irrelevant to you.
Breaking news: Wizards just announced the first werewolf planeswalker, which we can probably assume will follow the trend of being a double-sided walker like Garruk Relentless. I would assume that she is able to flip back and forth between forms due to the following line “she can control the transformation, in both directions, with relative ease.“
As we talked about last week in the Werewolf article, the Shadows over Innistrad checklist that was spoiled shows no mention of any legendary werewolf or planeswalker, but it is labeled “CH1/297”. I think this all but confirms that we will receive a second checklist card with a separate set of double-faced cards to represent [Ed note: Wednesday’s Werewolf Planeswalker announcement supports this]
I do not think that Wizards will reuse the templating from the Origins planeswalkers, because “Legendary creature turning into planeswalker” now has the flavor attachment of igniting a spark and having time pass between the two faces of the card.
Back in December, I decided to have some fun with an article. With Standard largely solved at the time and Modern in a lull, I took the opportunity to look ahead to 2016, and made some bold predictions. Looking back at that article, things turned out pretty well, as Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger went from the $15 I called it at then to $30. While I hope I saved or made people money with that call, it’s actually the less interesting one to talk about today.
“The Summer 2016 Specialty Release will be Multiplayer-focused
Let’s take a brief walk through history.
2012: Planechase 2012
2013: Modern Masters
2015: Modern Masters 2015
The Modern Masters sets throw it off over the past few years, but if you look back at the history it’s pretty clear that Wizards highly values a multiplayer-centric release during the summer. The annual Commander decks have taken some pressure off of this trend and made room for Modern reprints, but I have to believe that 2016 takes us back to multiplayer land.
My prediction? Archenemy 2. The inclusion of Surge — and multiplayer-centric cards in general in Oath of the Gatewatch — is not a coincidence, and I don’t believe that Matt Tabak’s seemingly-random reference to the Archenemy in this article is either.
Archenemy 2016. Maybe.”
Okay, so I get half credit here. While we didn’t receive Archenemy 2, we did get our multiplayer set in Conspiracy 2, though it remains to be seen what the set’s full title actually is (IS BRAGO KING ETERNAL OR NOT?!? I NEED TO KNOW). Or maybe I only get a third credit because they also announced Eternal Masters as one* of our summer sets. I don’t know; it’s all confusing in 2016.
If that were all there was to this, I wouldn’t have approached the topic of supplemental sets. But I’ve been kicking around this article for awhile and Conspiracy 2 is simply the latest in the line of supplemental sets. And while they may not all be of equal interest to us, the fact is they are becoming more and more important financially. I’m going to focus on the Commander series today, and circle back next week to handle the Planechase, Archenemy and Conspiracies of the world. I’ve been posting about a lot of these cards in the ProTrader forums over the past few weeks, and there’s been some great discussion about the future of some of these there, though the following card took us all by surprise.
As you can see, this is a seemingly random buyout, but it’s far from the first when it comes to these sets. Take, for example some of the other cards in that set. We saw major price corrections on Damia, Sage of Stone, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave and XX a while back, and it seems Magmatic Force has joined them.
This one came as a particular surprise because I’ve kept a pretty good eye on Commander over the past few months, and it didn’t look like any more of the cards were primed for a spike. Even those with a little growth still had a ton of stock left, so this came as a bit of a surprise to me Tuesday morning. That said, it only reinforces my standing theory: these spikes are due to scarcity more than anything else. Yes, they’re good cards that see a decent amount of play, but the truth is there’s just not that many of these cards out there in 2016, a full five years after the first Commander set released.
Commander sets are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to supplemental products over the past five years, and today I want to do a deep dive into these to discover any potential opportunities.
Commander (June 2011)
Not exactly Wizards’ first foray into this market, but the original Commander set was one of the first times they experimented with putting major new cards into a supplemental product. The results were enlightening, if not ideal.
Scavenging Ooze may be super affordable now (on that note, it’s showing some momentum and is likely headed upward before too long – fair warning), but when Commander came out ScOoze was pushing well past $40 and sold out everywhere. Wizards didn’t anticipate that the set would be as popular as it was, and it sold out very quickly and led to shortages.
At least, some of them did. The deck with ScOoze was the first to go, and not long after was the Angel deck with Kaalia. Meanwhile, Political Puppets set on the shelves for months. As players flocked to pick up the “good EV” sets, the others were ignored. Which, in my opinion, is a big reason why Flusterstorm is now over $60 and the most expensive card in the set.
But it’s far from the only card from the set to undergo some movement recently. We’ve seen price corrections in the past year on stuff like Collective Voyage, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, Damia, Sage of Stone and more.
Which begs the question – is there anything left from this set to invest in?
Riku is the most striking of the bunch. Seriously, this thing is going to see a correction up to at least $15 in the next two or three months. There’s too much momentum in the graph and dwindling supply for it to stay sub-$10 long.
But RIku isn’t the only one worth looking at. The following cards all have some things in common: steady demand, slowly increasing price and shrinking supply. Sooner or later these things converge and hit a breaking point, and a major price correction of 20-30% or more occurs.
Martyr’s Bond (this one has moved a decent amount already, but keep an eye on this as it could go higher).
Wrexial, the Risen Deep
Zedruu the Greathearted
I’m not saying to go out and buy these cards and watch them spike in the next two weeks. But I am saying that almost all of these (some more than others) fit the Magmatic Force profile, and could easily spike in the same way over the next six months. If you’ve considered picking any of these up, now is the time.
Apparently Wizards didn’t learn from the Scavenging Ooze debacle, because they repeated it with True-Name Nemesis. Everyone’s favorite Merfolk (just kidding, mine is Silvergill Adept) came out of the gates at $50 as it completely reshaped Legacy, teaming up with buddy Stoneforge Mystic to wear all the equipment and wreck opponents.
Then again, maybe Wizards learned something, because this time they flooded the market with copies of Mind Seize, the deck containing both True-Name and Baleful Strix. This had the effect of lowering True-Name to $15, though it still messed up the dynamics of the full release on the market.
True-Name itself seems fairly constant at $15, but what about the rest of the set?
Primal Vigor. Spiked a while back in the most obvious-to-predict jump ever, and has recovered from where it settled to near an all-time high again of $8. While I have no doubt this can double in the next year or two, it’s also got to be on Wizards’ list of a reprintable targets. Still, nothing not to like in the short-to-medium term.
Thousand-year Elixir. There’s definitely something to like here. This was pushing $10 when it had only one printing, and it’s currently sitting at its highest price (just under $3) since its release. Stock is there for both printings, but there’s a lot of momentum here and that stock won’t last forever. Maybe looking at a year before the true “spike” on this, but worth picking up now if you want them.
Sanguine Bond. At $2, this is finally rebounding from a mess of reprints. For those who don’t remember, this was $10-15 five years ago, and after being pushed to near-bulk by reprints in the last few years it’s starting to rebound. This is one of those you can nearly guarantee will be $5-8 within 18 months.
This is moving as well. We can use the original Commander as a baseline for a lot of these cards, and like the original set this set seems apt to experience some spikes as well, and soon.
Bane of Progress. Hurt by a second printing, this is near-bulk right now despite being enormously powerful. Don’t lose these in your bulk box.
Another Commander set, another one with low-print run cards with rising prices and dwindling supply. Here’s the highlights.
Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury. Not the most powerful planeswalker objectively, Freyalise is nevertheless a solid option in most decks that can play her, and has been showing some growth this year. Not perilously low on supply or anything, but it also doesn’t feel like this will be cheaper than the $6 it is now ever again.
Ghoulcaller Gisa has actually already gone crazy, and I doubt there’s a ton of short-term upside left at $5. But this is an excellent example of what other cards in this set could do over the next year or two.
Emeria, the Sky Ruin. Solid growth on this over the last year, and it shows no signs of slowing. If this doesn’t get reprinted, there’s almost no doubt it will be $10 within the next two years, and if things break right it could get there even faster.
Caged Sun. I went very deep on these when they were first printed in New Phyrexia, and they represented strong and safe money. The reprint came to me as a chance to pick up even more copies on the cheap, and I love picking these up around $3.
Rite of Replication. I’ll hit this one here even though it was also in Commander 2015, but this represents a chance to grab this previously $10 card at a buck. It’s a long-term hold, but a sure bet at current prices.
Arcane Lighthouse. This may actually be one of the best targets on here. Available at a dollar today but with dwindling supply. Much like Myriad Landscape experienced a big price correction a few months back, this is likely the next in line.
True Conviction. This was a card that saw strong growth in the year before a reprint, and it’s showing some rebound momentum after that reprint. Another dollar rare, another great medium-to-long-term hold.
As the most recent Commander set, there are some good and bad things about this edition. One of the biggest pros is, of course, the price. With these so recently released and is even still available on shelves, the price on most of these cards is rock bottom.
The downside is that we don’t know which ones will do well over time. Sure, in many cases we can make accurate predictions, but it’s a lot harder for me to sit here and predict a card will rise than it is to study charts and let the data do the talking for me. Still, let’s see what we can find.
Command Beacon. As the most expensive card in the set and a hugely popular land, I imagine this will almost certainly see a reprint in 2016, and 2017 if not. At the current buy-in of $11, I’d rather just stay away from this.
Blade of Selves would fall into the same category, except it has a set-specific keyword. While they could put this into another product, it doesn’t seem easy for them to do so. I don’t necessarily want to buy these to hold, but if you need to pick one up for yourself you should probably do so.
Meren of Clan Nel Toth. I love this card, and have been on the lookout to pick one up for my Karador deck. At $9 and with another set-specific mechanic, I don’t see this falling either.
Coldsteel Heart. This was a $2.50 mana rock before the reprint, and is a random uncommon I see forgotten about these days. Great pickup at current prices.
Eldrazi Monument. Not only are our new Eldrazi overlords everywhere and this is on theme, but it was a $10 before the reprint. Cards like that are certain to start the climb back to those heights within a year, and $4 is the ground floor on these.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. The climb back up has already started on these, and there is no reason to think it will stop anytime soon. Don’t forget this was a $15 card before the reprint, and available today at $4 for a Mythic Angel with a huge effect on games. This is the stuff mtgfinance dreams are made of.
Lightning Greaves. It’s had a lot of printings, and for a long time those printings were $7-8. It’s been reprinted a lot so expectations can be tempered, but I’m mentioning this because it is at a floor.
Blatant Thievery. This one is a little more narrow but still incredibly powerful, so at $1.50 there’s a lot to like for a previously-$7 card.
There you go. That’s a lot of cards, but I warned you in advance it was going to be a deep dive. Truthfully, these Commander sets and other supplemental products have been great on the finance end, as they make cards that were moderately priced available cheaply for players, and “reset” the copies out there for people looking to hold onto theirs for the long haul.
Come back next week when I dive into the rest of the supplemental sets!
Last week, we talked about the changes to the rules of EDH and how those changes can affect prices. A major event like a significant banning and a significant change to how the color identity rules work coupled in the same announcement gives us an embarrassment of information and led to some pretty significant price changes, as we all predicted.
Foil Sen Triplets shot up $30 over a week ago from where it was hovering around $40 to the $70 people are trying to charge on TCGplayer now. Most of the smaller retail sites are out of copies and the excitement about how much fun this card is going to be to play seems to be responsible. This was something we predicted would happen last week and it happened very quickly.
Similarly, Seedborn Muse was roughly a $15 card last week and it’s sold out nearly everywhere online as people rush to plug the hole left in their deck by Prophet of Kruphix. Seedborn Muse is not even half as good as Prophet and its price won’t hold, but people are going to try anyway. Something like $27 to $30 seems to be the growing rate and if history is to be believed, the price should stabilize between the pre-spike price of $15 and the post-spike price of $30. $22.50 is still a lot to pay for a card that doesn’t even give your creatures flash. If Muse were that good in that spot, people would have been playing it already alongside Prophet. This was predictable as well.
Now that the dust seems to have settled and we’re thinking about which decks to build in the future and which cards we want to include in those decks, we should address something that is rarely discussed for some odd reason.
People love to talk about what they want their EDH deck to do. They make a pile of a ton of cards that can go in the deck that might accomplish the goal and set about the nearly impossible task of paring the deck down to just 99 cards plus a commander. This is a decent way to build a deck, except that it ignores something pretty fundamental that people who don’t play a ton of one-on-one EDH forget sometimes: other players exist. That is to say, they’re trying to do stuff and you should probably try and stop them from doing their thing so that when you do your thing, you win. Planning an epic Insurrectionis cool unless some guy makes infinite mana with Palinchron(another card we predicted would spike, remember?) and kill you before you even get the mana to do it.
You need to devote space in your deck to dealing with what they do, and while this isn’t a deckbuilding column (mostly because I told you how I build decks in the last paragraph even though I essentially just mocked people who build that way in the same paragraph), we should consider putting removal and cards that stuff their strategies into our decks. If everyone does that, we can make some money predicting the cards they’ll use.
Some of the stuff that is good removal is always going to be good removal and the prices of those cards are going to reflect that.
I was expecting the price of this card to be relatively stable to help me prove my point but this does the opposite. I had to shift the axes of this graph because this was like $35 at some point. Who knows why these things happen? The point is, Legacy monkeys with this from time to time, but this is basically always going to be a solid EDH spell that green decks should run. You stop them and they can’t stop you from stopping them. Seems solid.
It took a few Commander reprints to drag this foil kicking and screaming away from the $25 mark. Am I showing you declining cards because I don’t know how to structure an argument? No, I want to prove the point that obvious removal is sometimes going to stagnate. What we want to be thinking about is how the new strategies brought about by new cards work. We know how they work so we should be able to dismantle them.
Most of this series has discussed new events and how to buy ahead of the people building to make those work, but we should also think about how to buy ahead of the people who are going to get sick of losing to that strategy. We knew that Eldrazi Displacer was going to push cards like Palinchron up, right? How do we beat that?
Torpor Orb is a card no one really wants to play with in every EDH deck because it also neuters your own strategies sometimes. Shutting down crazy enter-the-battlefield triggers is a fairly important thing to do, though, and the card is growing accordingly. When people start doing stupid stuff they couldn’t before because they needed Deadeye Navigator and now have Eldrazi Displacer to try that nonsense in decks like Mangara of Corondor, we’re going to want to shut them down. This is great against Roonand Brago; a ton of decks rely on getting value from creatures that enter the battlefield and flashing them out. This even stops enchantments like the Aura Shards they would really like to use to blow up your Orb. How many people play with cards like Viridian Zealot? Not as many as play with Acidic Slime, I’m guessing.
I actually don’t even have to guess. EDHREC is pretty clear on how little Zealot is played: it appears 225 times in 16,945 green decks, or roughly 1.3 percent of them. Acidic Slime appears nearly three times as often. Enter-the-battlefield triggers are integral to EDH, and stuffing them is going to hurt people’s feelings. Good. They’re trying to kill you, remember?
If we expect a surge in enter-the-battlefield shenanigans with the printing of Eldrazi Displacer, we can expect an increase in the efficacy of Torpor Orb and an increase in its price. A price of $3 isn’t the best place in the world to buy in, but this is a card I have been accumulating for a while. When these were still around $1, they were on my short list of “throw-in” cards I would use to even up a trade that was $1 in their favor. This is also literally the only card on my PucaTrade want list. Orb is a nutso card and it’s from New Phyrexia which has $30 Spellskitesand $5 Unwinding Clocks. Is Orb more useful than Clock? I think so, but the Prophet banning has made people scramble to find terrible cards to replace it instead of jamming a card that will trip them up.
The banning of Prophet nearly explicitly said Consecrated Sphinx was safe, but it also implied Deadeye Navigator was also looked at and they decided to keep it legal. I like Torpor Orb a ton, frankly, and its current price leaves some room for real growth, even if it’s only like $2 (otherwise known as 66 percent of its current price, which is nothing to shake your gnarly old fist at, you geezer. Face it, no one wants to listen to Sinatra and dance the jitterbug anymore. Your day is over; die with some dignity) which would pull it even with Unwinding Clock, a card that is in three percent of all eligible EDH decks. That’s more than Orb is in now, but expect that to change.
Believe me, you want to stop graveyard BS. According to EDHREC, graveyard BS makes up over 41 percent of all EDH BS, up from 33 percent before Wizards printed Mazirekand Meren. This has additional upside from other formats (sometimes) and at its current price, it’s not too expensive to sink a little money into. I’m not as convinced we should buy $12 foil copies for EDH, but the non-foils are growing and this is a solid “enough of your BS” card. Expect graveyard BS to be on the rise with Mazirek being the most-built commander according, again, to EDHREC.
Also popular this week appears to be a bunch of commanders we can shut down with Torpor Orb. Handy.
With Meren decks gaining so much popularity, it’s important to have ways to shut them down. Rest in Peace does just that, preventing them from even getting experience counters—not that they could bring anything back. This also has the advantage of pairing well with Helm of Obedience, which is at a three-year low since Legacy isn’t as popular as it used to be.
A way to shut them down and sometimes have an “oops, did I win?” combo with just one more card seems fine, and I recommend Rest in Peace even if all you do is wipe the graveyards when you cast it before it’s dealt with. A 1W spell that clears every yard is kind of like the Wu-Tang Clan, in that it ain’t nothing to @#$% wit’.
Not everyone likes to play white, so here is another option for you. This is growing steadily and I don’t see a reason for it to stop, so why not park a few bucks in a proven winner that could see some more upside soon?
This gets my vote for “most underrated card in Commander 2015. I realize it’s technically printed as an uncommon, but that is suggested power level. There aren’t three of these in every Plunder the Graves deck—there is one. That means there are as many copies of Thief of Blood as there are Meren of Clan Nel Toth, and Meren is currently sitting at a shade under $10. Is this a $10 card? No, not really. But it sure does ruin #%$ when you cast it.
You notice how Ezuri and Animar are both pretty popular? Well this pulls those cards’ pants down. Superfriends? Super dead. Vorel of the Hull Clade? More like Vorel of the All… Dade… all of my hydras are dade. They’re dead. Dade means dead. He kills their hydras, guys.
I lamented the terrible design of this card a few different times, because it hoses some decks and leaves other entirely unscathed, but that doesn’t really matter financially. All that matters is that this is a super good hoser card and people are not all that interested in holding onto their copies. In a year or two, this could be real money if it starts to see real play—and the popularity of decks like Ezuri and Animarshould make this a card that people look to to solve their problems. If you have never resolved this against a full board, do it. It gets everything. I was pulling counters off of Vividlands and cackling like a lunatic, nevermind the Assemble the Legion I got down to nothing. You know what is a fun thing to do with a vampire that has just gorged itself on the counters the Ezuri player was putting on his Woodfall Primus so he could sacrifice it every turn? Sacrifice it to Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and end the stupid game.
These cards are all going to be more effective against the new field than they were before Commander 2015 and Oath of the Gatewatch came out. New decks like General Tazri (hosed by Torpor Orb in a huge way), Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim (Leyline of Punishment or Everlasting Torment?) and new cards like Eldrazi Displacer and Thought-Knot Seer are shaking up EDH, and if you can stop them, you should, right? Who wants to lose to that crap?
New events give cards that help decks upside, but it’s also important to take a look at cards that hurt those strategies as well, especially the ones which are the most popular new decks being built. Check EDHREC every week to see what’s hot and think about what hoses those decks. Or, I guess, just keep reading my column, because I’m going to do that for you in all likelihood.
Next week I may do some more examples of hosers that I think have upside in the new EDH landscape, or maybe I’ll talk about something else. We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it. As always, thanks for reading and let’s get a $#%storm started in the comments section. Sound good?
“Wow, Jason, that’s profound. Way to identify the only two types of people on the planet with respect to EDH” –You
Look, I was making a point before I was so rudely interrupted. Yes, I realize most of the people on the planet don’t play EDH and some of you do. But I meant that with respect to just my readers. Some of you play EDH, some of you don’t.
For those of you who don’t but are still interested in the financial opportunities, thanks for reading. I realize it’s literally torture to read a finance article that concerns cards from a format you don’t play, and you’re sticking with it because of my animal magnetism (and because I occasionally make jokes at Corbin Hosler’s and Douglas Johnson’s expense. Trust me, Doug deserves it).
Whether or not you actually play EDH, you can get a sense of which cards are poised to do something and which cards are in higher demand than others. High demand cards can be moved for closer to retail and fringier cards are better to buylist, so sorting your cards on this basis can help you figure out which cards to ship on PucaTrade or TCGplayer and which to just ship to buylists. And although trading tends to suck, I still make a ton of money trading for Standard cards that EDH players don’t care about and for EDH cards that Standard players don’t care about.
You know how we keep saying “value is subjective?” That’s not just a way we rationalize ripping someone off in a trade (not something I advocate, and karma has a way of catching up with people who do this)—it is also a reminder that when you are trading a pile of cards someone considers very useful for a pile they consider useless, they are more likely to be generous and skew the trade in your favor a bit yet end up way happier with the trade than you are. Trading straight across isn’t a losing proposition when your $3 Standard rare will be a dime in a year and the $3 EDH staple will be $5 in a year. Hell, even if the $3 EDH card is $3 in a year, you made $2.90 on the trade.
Have you ever built an EDH deck? Some of you have, some of you haven’t. I don’t mean just physically sleeving up a deck, but making a decklist that ends up as a working 100-card pile? I want to advocate going through some of the motions of building a deck as a mental exercise to familiarize yourself with some EDH staples and EDH deckbuilding resources. It forces you to stay on top of prices, see cards you may have “glossed over” in a new light and make you remember to watch their price changes, and in general, interface more with EDH people who give you all the information you need to make good finance calls without even knowing it. You don’t need to be EDH Jesus to make good financial calls. I’m going to go through my deckbuilding process and tell you every step I take and every discovery I make. Let’s build a deck and see what we figure out.
Make Like Bob Vila and Build a Deck
I have talked about some of these cards and resources in the past, but I don’t care because I’m actually going to build the list we come up with at the end of this process, because I bought the Daxos the Returned precon and found a Serra’s Sanctum in a collection I bought.
(There was also a Tolarian Academy in that collection. Guess which card is worth more money. Surprised? This is what EDH does to card prices sometimes. If Tolarian Academy were legal in EDH, you’d really see the effect. In fact, that would be a great lesson: Sanctum, Academy, Cradle. You could see how EDH relevance stacks up against EDH-plus-Legacy or EDH-plus-Vintage. As it is, Sanctum is a $50 card waiting to happen and I’m glad I pulled one in a collection. I tend to try to avoid buying cards I advocate, and I strongly advocate Sanctum.)
Let’s build a Daxos deck that makes the most of Sanctum. But if we’re not sure where to start, what do we do?
Tapped Out is a website where decks are listed, debated, analyzed, and scrutinized. I keep meaning to post my decks there to see what people think, but I’m scared of their criticism busy restoring old cars and chopping down trees and a third man thing.
I like the site a lot because it gives you a lot of data at your fingertips. The graphical representation of color balance, mana ratios, and other at-a-glance info is good, but there are other, hidden metrics that not many financiers are aware of, because why would you go that deep on an EDH website when MTGPrice tells you so much info on its home page? Well, there’s a good reason. I have covered this before, but I want to be sure people know this and that is the “demand” page as I call it. Clicking on a card in a deck list will take you to a screen with info for that card. Further down the page is a box with some tabs.
If you look at the “trade” tab or click on it, you can see who is offering the card for trade and who needs it and you can contact those users privately. This is a good place to find trades and you can potentially finagle them to be in your favor value-wise. Remember, these are players looking to play, not value hounds, so you can potentially get rid of downward-trending cards and pick up upward-trending ones. It’s worth playing with.
It’s also worth noting that despite its high appeal, eight times as many people have spare copies of this card than want them. It’s readily abundant. Despite Dictate of Erebos seeming like a slam-dunk of a card considering it can be found for under a dollar and it does the same thing as a $10 Grave Pact, it is going to take a while because copies are everywhere and lots of players have lots of extras. If you poke around long enough, you can find cards that have pent-up demand: more people who want them than people who have them.
It took me literally five seconds to try a few links in the exact same decklist and find that Greater Auramancy has pent-up demand. Do you think its current price will hold if it’s an auto-include in Daxos, people are building Daxos, it hasn’t been reprinted, and more people on Tapped Out want it than are willing to part with it? Maybe you can contact the people who have it and see what they want, thereby picking up a powerful, popular card for cardboard rather than cash. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, just how to make some value or pay $13 for a card that’s $20 or more next week that you want for your deck. I’m negotiating to trade for my copy since I want one in my deck.
Tapped Out can also give you a big list of other decks with the same Commander in the bottom right of the page. I like Tapped Out a lot, and whenever I’m brewing a new Commander deck, I like to see what people building the deck already came up with.
The suggestions people make are also very good, and a lot of the time, you can click on the link to the suggested card’s page and learn a lot about the card. Did you know about Koskun Falls? Not a lot of people do. It’s worth researching.
Ultimately, Daxos decks haven’t made it jump and neither did the printing of King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, but it is still an interesting card and worth knowing about. Homelands has exactly one worthwhile card in it, so there are loose falls everywhere, but you won’t suffer from having one in your binder to swap for a bulk rare from a recent set you think has potential. The card could have easily been something worth watching like another card from the list.
This card is way more interesting. Click around on some of the cards you may not be familiar with in the lists built by people who already built the deck you’re looking to “build” (theoretical or otherwise) and you may find some interesting cards. Contaminationdoes a lot of work in Daxos and other annoying decks. It’s a nonbo with Sanctum and getting white mana in general, so I’m not sold on it for this list, but if other Daxos players are toying with it, it’s worth knowing about.
Tapped Out is great for seeing complete decklists and seeing the cards in context of a deck, but it is really time-consuming to try and see which cards are used in common in a lot of the decks. Tapped Out doesn’t do that analysis for us. Fortunately, there is a site that does.
Check out the EDHREC page for Daxos. It’s the data miner mother lode. There are a lot of obvious inclusions in the deck because the cards came bundled with Daxos, so for the time being, almost all Daxos lists online will contain Karmic Justice, Black Market. and Grasp of Fate. That’s not to say we can’t learn a lot from EDHREC even this early in the game. Really navigate the page just with your scroll bar for now.
Hover over the numbers under the card and it will tell you what they are. I’ll also explain. The first number is straightforward: 94 percent of the decks in the database with Daxos the Returned as their commander run this card. Simple. The third number tells you the same information, but also how many decks there are total, which is useful to know. The middle number may be confusing—finance websites have trained us to see that as a trend number—maybe 50 percent more decks run Phyrexian Arena than last week because they all just busted one in a precon?
That number is actually called the “synergy rating.” Per the website: “How often this card is played in Daxos the Returned decks, vs. other black+white decks. A positive percentage means the card is played more often in comparison to other decks, negative percentage means it’s played less frequently than usual. A number near zero means it’s mostly likely a staple for those colors.”
This is great info, as it tells us whether a staple and shoo-in for a deck like Daxos the Returned is just good for the deck or is good for the colors. Cards with high percentages might not be the best investments, because they may be somewhat fringe-playable in the format as a whole. However, a high percentage means the popularity of the commander can be what drives the price, meaning the commander gaining popularity will be a factor in the price, especially when there is low supply, like on older cards. Daxos can’t drive Dictate of Erebos by itself, but maybe it can shove up a card like Heliodwhich has a 53-percent synergy rating and is a mythic that just rotated out of Standard. Heliod also spits out enchantments, which is perfect for a deck with Serra’s Sanctum.
EDHREC has a lot of useful features. You can see the cards used in the decks where Daxos is in the 99 rather than the Commander. You can see the decks where combinations of cards are used by clicking the advanced filter at the top next to recent decks.
You can also get some help if you’re not too familiar with EDH by using the manabase crafter, which is a lot of help in identifying cards you might not know and which may be EDH staples you weren’t aware were cards you should pick, stock, or maybe speculate on. Not every card you see for the first time is a hidden gem, but you’re going to get a greater understanding of a format that can move prices profoundly and is not to be overlooked if you want to make money slinging cardboard.
Really peruse the site carefully. It’s chock full of features, and even if you don’t plan to ever sleeve the deck you “brew,” you are still going to want to know the most common cards in the deck. That’s what other people are using, which means they need them, which means they will need to buy them. The release of the five precons this month is a significant event for prices and that’s putting it mildly. Don’t miss being ahead of the curve.
I am going to cheat a little, because I already brewed my decklist so we can basically skip to the end if we want. That’s not to say I didn’t check both of the sites I mentioned when I brewed this deck, because I absolutely did that. I plan to build the deck, I plan to use some of the alternative methods for card acquisition I talked about in this piece, and ultimately, I have my eye on a few cards that I think could move based on what we learned on Tapped Out and EDHREC.
Are you going to build your own deck? Ezuri, Claw of Progress? Animar, Soul of Elements? Gisela, Blade of Goldnight? Whatever you decide to think about how to build, going through the motions of researching the deck is going to show you a lot of cards you should be paying attention to just as a matter of course. As far as theoretical exercises go, one that shows you a lot of data and leaves you with a decklist you could build if you wanted is pretty useful if you ask me. Until next time!
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