Tag Archives: Commander

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Digging for Gold

On a recent episode of the Money Draught podcast, financier JR (@time_elemental) lamented the lack of real EDH cards in Modern Masters 2015. While Modern Masters…One (I guess) included a lot of EDH staples in an attempt to bring their prices down while simultaneously not acknowledging the secondary market, Modern Masters 2015 doesn’t seem to.

Not only that, the cards that are included aren’t quite build-arounds like last time. While Doubling Season was the linchpin in a draft archetype, we don’t see similar things in Modern Masters 2015. The lack of real EDH cards is going to confound our ability to predict what prices will do to an extent, but let’s dive in anyway. Even though we don’t have a ton of EDH cards this time, there is some gold there.

So what exactly did we get handed to us last time?

Wow, that’s quite a list. We had a substantial portion of the set overlap with cards we find useful in EDH. Let’s compare the size of the list to the size of the list from Modern Masters 2015.

If some of those are a bit of a stretch, don’t worry, because even with me stretching the list out, it’s much, much shorter than the list of EDH goodies in the first Modern Masters set.

With Modern Masters 2015 promising an even larger print run than the first Modern Masters set, expect prices to dip even more profoundly than last time even after you account for all the product that is going to be damaged by WOTC’s shoddy, experimental packaging.

How much do we expect to see prices dip? When should we buy in for some of these cards? Which cards’ prices do we never expect to recover? What are some factors that we don’t always consider? Let’s delve in a bit and see if we can’t make a few predictions based on last time, where we saw a smaller print run but also way more people excited to open boosters.

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Reality had a profound effect on the price of Stonehewer, bringing it down to the $5 range long before the announcement of the reprint, but Modern Masters took a solid EDH staple that most valued as a bulk rare without knowing it was a solid $5 pick and turned it into a card worth half that at best. Even the printing of a mono-white, equipment-themed EDH deck only affected the spread—it increased slightly but the price is thus far unperturbed two years on. Stonehewer demonstrated an ability to be in high demand and fetch ridiculous prices when everyone was equipment crazy, but if that happens again, don’t expect Giant to be able to reach its previous ceiling. It’s possible its price of above $10 may have prompted its inclusion in Modern Masters, since it took so long for the set to go from conception to boosters, but regardless, we’re only seeing faint glimmers of price recovery two years on.

You can sort of control for the effect of Modern caring less about Giant if you look at another card touted in Modern initially and abandoned at the same time: Steelshaper’s Gift. If you look at the price of Steelshaper’s Gift over the same time frame as Giant, the effect of Modern becomes clearer and you can see what was that demand decrease and what was purely the result of the reprinting in the first Modern Masters set. This isn’t exactly a quantitative effect, but even a qualitative one can show there are two distinct periods of price decline and which one was predicated on the reprint.

Do I see a corollary in Modern Masters 2015?

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While we don’t expect ordinary cards in the $5 range to recover in price, expect Temple to be crushed into powder. A reprint at uncommon is going to be devastating to the price, and the spread reflects that: growing astronomically as dealers head for the hills.  While its price isn’t predicated on EDH play, I see this card and it’s $5-ish price tag and think of Stonehewer’s abject failure to recover its price despite there being more excitement around a card like it than ever before. Narrow cards like Stonehewer that are good at what they do but relegated to only a few decks are going to suffer for longer than the two years it has been since the last Modern Masters set, and I expect Eldrazi Temple is entirely done for as a result. While some uncommons like Path to Exile have demonstrated an ability to stay around $5, Eldrazi Temple is not Path, and a realistic floor could end up under $1. If it had been reprinted at rare, I’d still expect it to hit $2.

How does this compare to a card reprinted in a different manner? Let’a look at an EDH staple that was reprinted in a Commander deck and see if we see a similar price decline or a dissimilar one. Since we are decent at predicting what a Commander reprint will do, let’s try and compare the two effects and try to apply that to a card in Modern Masters 2015.

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Murkfiend Liege is a great, great card. It’s a fairer Prophet of Kruphix and despite being outclassed by the less fair prophet, the community has adopted a, “Por que no los dos?” attitude, so Prophet hasn’t really hurt Liege’s price a ton, especially not compared to what the Commander 2013 reprint did to absolutely pants it.

If you look at this graph of Murkfriend Liege’s price for the Eventide copy, it was well on its way to $15 when the reprint came along and pulled its pants down. The card is dirt cheap right now,but it’s not done going down and I’m not even close to wanting to touch these right now. With the popularity of Derevi, the sealed product is going to continue to be in high demand and every deck popped for a Derevi is going to result in one more Liege hitting the market. Some Derevi players will run the Liege, but some won’t. And besides, that’s a person buying a Seedborn Muse or Prophet (or both) from you who doesn’t need to buy a Liege.

We saw Modern Masters completely pants a card like Stonehewer which was roughly $5 to $7 on EDH demand alone. What about a card that was a similar price to Murkfiend Liege? How about Creakwood Liege?

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You can see that the set has already made Creakwood fall to roughly half of its pre-printing price. The good thing is that we can wait for it to fall a bit more, and I don’t know that we’re in any hurry to buy. A reprinting in a Commander deck seems very unlikely. With Modern Masters cutting prices in half last time, I feel like Creakwood Liege may be close to done falling, and this may be the new price for a while, but with Modern Masters threatening to disappear after a few months, it might rebound. Demand was much greater than that for a card like Stonehewer, and with a reprint feeling relatively unlikely after the first one, Liege may recover after all. Can we substantiate our claim that a Modern Masters reprint tends to cut the price of in-demand cards roughly in half?

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Divinity has been printed twice and is unlikely to ever recover at a fast enough rate for us to care. You can see two very distinct depressions in price, one around mid-2013 when Modern Masters gave it its first reprinting (cutting the price roughly in half) and the second when it got a reprinting in the Oloro Commander deck which saw some popularity, especially with everyone testing Toxic Deluge at the time trying to deal with True-Name Nemesis.

If we hadn’t seen the second reprinting, Divinity might also have recovered, We can’t say for certain. Do you feel good about Creakwood? If you bought in at its floor, which I would predict is around peak saturation of Modern Masters 2015, you could see it finish between its initial $15 and its current $7.50. That’s a 50 percent increase and would mean it outperformed my 401k. Not too shabby. If you’re not as optimistic, we can look at the list of EDH cards in Modern Masters 2015, pick the cards unlikely to get another reprint, and predict a rough 50 percent cut in price and a 50 percent increase from that floor price. Not great, but predictable.

What do we like for this effect? Out of the EDH cards in the set, few are truly safe from reprint, and few compare with Creakwood in terms of desirability. The Eldrazi have been reprinted before in various manners and don’t feel as safe to me, and their high buy-ins reduce upside. Kiki-Jiki may get reprinted every two years in this wacky set. Comet Storm in the only mythic rare anyone is opening if the hashtag #CometCurse is to be believed. Wilt-Leaf Liege‘s price is mostly predicated on a modicum of Modern play—Brian Kibler saying the name of a Magic card on Twitter has roughly as profound an effect on price as does all of EDH-dom, so I expect Modern to greedily swallow a ton of the loose copies irrespective of how much it’s actually played. If you disagree, Wilt-Leaf may be a good buy, but my money is on Creakwood. A lot of the rest of the cards on my list are pretty cheap.

Based on the response I get this week, I may clarify a few points on this topic before I move on to something else, so make sure you hit up the comments section. I am in Las Vegas until next week for the GP (in the loosest sense of being in Vegas “for the GP”), so I may not spend a ton of time monitoring the comments, but I will try and check in. Your feedback so far has been invaluable and I hope you continue to engage with this series and encourage others to ask questions. Come find me if you’re in Vegas and say hello! Until next time.

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Legen—Wait For It…

By: Jason Alt

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Yes, I want to talk about legendary creatures. As is our custom here in this column, I want to look at EDH-specific cards and their financial futures. EDH impact is unique and has a few quirks and legendary creatures are obviously going to be highly impacted by EDH.

But to what extent? And how do we differentiate the impact of EDH from the impact of other formats? Understanding this effect is going to help us know what to do in the future when we see cards that look like they’ll be EDH-only cards. Believe me, they’re easy to spot. Legendary creatures with unique abilities look amazing when a set is being spoiled. People mentally build around them right off the bat and make plans to acquire the cards as soon as possible when the set comes out. People can’t wait to build around that hot new commander. So how do we know when to preorder or target during the first week and how do we know when to, well…

Wait for it?

 

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Some sets just look… you know. Just ridiculous. M15 was a set like that, Dragons of Tarkir was another. Sometimes they clearly want to let EDH players know they’re aware we exist and they want to pander to us. If you look at M15, there are a ton of cards that look really saucy for EDH.

You kiddin’ me?

Wow. Daretti says hello.

This cycle is nuts!

I love to Polymorph!

They can’t all be gems

Bruna, anyone?

Hnnnnnnng.

Seriously?

YES.

They know Goblin Welder is a card, right?

Look at all these sweet EDH cards! This set is stacked. Stacked, I tells ya!

So When Did I Go In For Cash On This Stuff?

I mean, not yet. It was a relatively recent set, but let’s look at the price graphs on some of these cards now that we’re past peak supply.

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Remember when we had high hopes and thought this card would maintain a price of an entire dollar? The hubris. The hubris.

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The foil isn’t exactly blowing my mind, either. Look at the buylist price… it’s going down. Dealers get less and less confident in this card the farther we get from the release.

Kurkesh isn’t exactly a staple, though, is he? How about a card that people are excited to use as a commander?

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Yisan is a better card that’s not in much better shape. Huh. Clearly things would be better if these cards were mythic rares rather than regular rares—that much is obvious. Are there any EDH-focused non-mythics in M15 that are better price-wise that we can compare these to? Yep.

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What’s going on here? While Sliver Hive is colorless and can therefore technically go in any color deck, it’s also pretty narrow. It goes in sliver decks and really nowhere else. You can’t even use it as an Urza’s Factory since you need to have a sliver out to power it. One factor? This card is obvious to everyone that it will be a solid pickup. You don’t need to know anything about how to build a slivers deck to know that this goes in it. Just read it.

The same person who can look at Crucible of the Spirit Dragon and say, “Dragon players’re gonna love thems a big old bunch of this card,” (they didn’t) can correctly surmise that Sliver Hive is a solid pickup. Everyone is going to be all-in on speculating here because it’s so juicy.

Another factor is that this is EDH-strong but not EDH-specific. This means it can go in four-of formats as well. Casual players will snap these up a set at a time to jam in their sliver decks. There was even talk of a sliver deck in Standard. It never materialized, which is too bad, since if it didn’t happen when M15 came out, it will likely never happen. That’s a shame. Still, there was a lot of attention given to this card.

What about some other cards that may be closer to Sliver Hive than they are to Kurkesh?

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Someone is really trying to make something happen here. Artificial spikes notwithstanding, there is real, organic demand here obscured by some mild dickery.  This is a card that will end up in casual as well as EDH decks, and can be jammed as more than just a one-of. A picture is starting to develop here.

Applicability

If a card has any cross-format applicability with a casual format other than EDH as well as with EDH, we’ve seen there is a mild bump. If there is applicability with a competitive format, there is a larger bump, but all that really serves to do is obscure our data. However, it is still worth exploring a bit.

Tasigur is a very good EDH commander.

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However, he’s also a very good card in formats like Modern and Standard and this new format where people play using their hands to try and prevent their opponents from throwing a ball through a metal ring and—nope, no, that’s definitely basketball I was thinking of, and this card sucks in basketball. He’d get picked after me and I show up to play pickup hoops wearing jean shorts and a Rush T-shirt. Still, he’s good at just about everything that doesn’t require a 30-inch vertical.

Can we try and parse out how much of his peak price and hell, even his current plateaud price is due to EDH alone? I have an idea.

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Subtract from Tasigur’s current price of roughly $6 Shu Yun‘s current price of about one-half of one dollar and you start to see what’s going on. Shu Yun is pretty good in EDH himself and he is a Tiny Leader to boot. Even Tasigur can’t say he’s a Tiny Leader (an effect I won’t even speculate about because I don’t fully understand how Tiny Leaders affects prices because I am part of the group known as “everyone”), so Shu Yun has some things going for him that Tasigur does not. EDH has kept this above bulk while Tasigur enjoyed a brief stint at $10.

And Shu Yun is certainly above bulk. He’s nearly worth 50 percent more than Dragonscale General. Thanks for the boost, EDH!

Let’s work on coming to a conclusion or two before we look at some more factors.

What we are seeing here is that non-mythic legendary creatures that are basically EDH-only cards in the post-mythic era are really suffering. They’re having a hard time gaining any traction despite being really cool cards and despite EDH growing at a phenomenal rate and Wizards supporting the format directly by printing cards with that format in mind and including those cards not only in regular sets but also in the special supplementary product they have created just for that format. Wizards is doing a lot to support EDH.

Why are the cards suffering? Simple. EDH would have to be growing at a rate that is four times the rate that Standard is growing, basically. I realize that’s a gross oversimplification, but looking at it qualitatively rather than quantitatively, it’s not far from the truth. EDH just doesn’t consume cardboard the way Standard does. Unfortunately for EDH speculators, Standard is where non-Magic players usually join. FNM is at the front of the funnel and our format is a tributary. EDH is overwhelming for someone who has never played Magic before, anyway. So large growth has to occur on the Standard side before it gets to the EDH side, and that growth will exacerbate the problem we’re having with non-mythic, EDH-specific cards being worth essentially bulk as players bust packs at an unprecedented rate trying to get the cards they need for FNM.

Things are stacked against cards like Kurkesh. It’s narrow. It’s mono-colored, meaning it goes in just red decks. Not only that, it can’t go in all red decks since it’s very specific to artifact decks given its ability. It was from a recent set. It’s non-mythic in the post-mythic era. People bought a lot of M15: more than any core set ever. By the time you get all the way down the list to “Kurkesh is very good at what it does” it doesn’t matter anymore. The balance is weighted so heavily against the card that it scarcely matters.

Other Formats Matter. Sometimes

So far we’ve only looked at non-mythic rares. I did that deliberately, because being mythic is a huge boost to a card’s potential. Not only that, other format applicability is going to profoundly affect mythics compared to non-mythic rares. If you have a card that has some competitive applicability, say in Modern where it was featured in a Woo brew, that would be huge for the card’s price potential. Man, what if the card were a phenomenal EDH general, too? Like… bannably good. What if a card were playable in Modern, was mythic, and was such a good commander that people complain about the card warping their local metagame?

How much would a killer card like that go for? $5? $10? Even if most of the play it saw was in EDH, a smattering of cross-format applicability is bound to make the card expensive. Can you think of any cards like that?

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Mother$&%#@!

A dollar. A dollar and change, but still a damn dollar. It’s trending down in price as we pass peak saturation of supply. Dealers aren’t very excited, either, and you can see the demand from dealers (the blue line. I haven’t mentioned that the blue line is buylist price for like… the entire time I’ve written for this site. I really hope most of you got that from context) actually diverging from the retail price. That augurs poorly, usually.

When was the best time to sell Narset? Right the hell away, it turns out. When is the best time to buy? Not yet, that’s when.

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Even the foil isn’t wowing me right now, although we’re looking at a healthy 10-times multiplier, which all but confirms that the EDH community is very, very aware of Narset.

So what do we do if most legendary creatures that are EDH-only won’t have the advantages Narset has like being mythic, featured in a Woo brew, and being a once-in-a-block busted commander like Nekusar or Rafiq?

What do we do if an EDH-focused legendary creature card with a lot of advantages isn’t getting there and worse ones certainly won’t?

Wait For It

That wasn’t just a pun in the title. I think when a legendary creature comes out, you’re almost always going to have to wait if it’s an EDH card. Sometimes a very long time.

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Too soon.

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No, not yet.

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Not yet.

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Eh, look at that spread getting BIGGER. Yuck.

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Think we may be onto something…

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Woah. Look at that growth. People who bought at rotation and sat on these did okay. EDH obviously loves this guy and he’s a sweet commander, but goblins players use him, too. What’s our multiplier look like?

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Only double?! So we’re just beginning to see the real growth. The foil is about to diverge from the non-foil and dealers seem to agree.

So How Do We Hit the Next Krenko?

  • Identify the Krenko.

The next Krenko is going to be a powerful general with a cool ability. Relevant tribal affiliation never hurts. The card will be mostly overlooked by competitive players.

  • Buy at rotation.

Krenko hit its lowest point a year after its release, when it rotated out of Standard. This is about what we expect. He’s a sicko commander, and when Purphoros was spoiled in late August 2013, we saw some price movement in Krenko’s price. Growth has been nice and organic. Buying at rotation was the best time to guarantee we’d buy at the cheapest he’d ever be. Lots of Spikes dump their cards at rotation and we want to be there with our wallets out. Buy at the blue line, not the green one if you can.

  • Wait for it.

You will wait a few years. Magic 2013 was released in July of 2012. It’s not yet July of 2015. The next Krenko could get spoiled in Battle for Zendikar and we’d have a long wait.

What Do We Not Want to Do?

  • Don’t preorder like 90 percent of the time.

Sure, maybe you could have gotten a cheap(er) Dragonlord Dromoka, but it wasn’t EDH that made that price go up and you’re better off just waiting for EDH-only stuff to tank. People will be impatient initially and pay whatever price and then they will wait until they get around to building the deck.

Legendary creatures look really sexy on spoiler sheets, but I think I’ve made the case that they are a trap almost all of the time and the play is to sit on them. We’ll figure out what the next Krenko is together, and as soon as we identify that card, well, we’ll know what to do. We’ll wait for it.

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Is It Safe? Part 2

By: Jason Alt

For a brief second, I found myself wishing this series dealt with MODO at all because “Part 2: Electric Reprint Boogaloo” would be a sweet title. If you’re not laughing, you’re just mad you didn’t think of it, and envy is a stinky cologne, readers.

Electronic reprints are relevant to the discussion, but online EDH is so irrelevant it’s not funny. It’s played, technically, but there’s not much money in speculating on such an underplayed and volatile medium, so let’s stick to what we know.

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