Tag Archives: EDH finance

Dimes to Dollars 102

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Written By:
Douglas Johnson @Rose0fthorns
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It’s no secret that I absolutely love bulk rares. I’ve written multiple articles on the subject, and I pride myself on having a pretty solid niche in a community with so many prolific writers. If you’re interested in a couple of primer articles on what I’ve already talked about before we delve deeper down the dime ditch, you can find a piece on “Bulk Rare EDH“, and one on the difference between what I’ve deemed to be “true bulk and fake bulk.”  We’re going to touch on a little of both today, in addition to another project that I’m going to be undertaking.

Building with Bulk

The last time I wrote about Bulk Rare EDH was almost exactly one year ago, and I’ve since taken apart that Tasigur list. It ended up being too frustrating trying to play three colors with next to zero playable mana fixing, since we were locked out of effects like Cultivate and Chromatic Lantern. Half of the deck’s games were lost to mana or color screw, and most of the other half were lost because I was spending the first six turns casting cards like Eye of Ramos and Into the Wilds just to try and find a certain color of mana.

I still loved the concept of Bulk Rare EDH though, even if I found out after a quick google search that I wasn’t the designer of the format.

seconded

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So what to do now that Tasigur was a dud? Well, I decided to cut my old rule of excluding the Commander from bulk rare status. That was only a personal exception because I wanted to build banana-man anyway. I also decided to clean up the cut-off point for cards at $1.00 TCG mid, for consistency’s sake; I just promised myself that I wouldn’t use *too many* cards from the dollar box, whatever that meant. So this time, the goal was to focus on a deck with only one or two colors, for consistency’s sake. Thankfully, one of my “Maybe one day” Commander prototypes on Tappedout.net was already being led by a bulk rare, Heartless Hidetsugu. While I didn’t exactly have anyone else who was following my personal rule restrictions, I still wanted the deck to be able to scale with the level of the playgroup to some extent. Hmm… I should definitely trademark that. Maybe call it 76% or something like that?

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Anyway, this is the first draft that I ended up coming up with:

heartless1

Heartless Hidetsugu Bulk Rare EDH 1.0

heartless2
Ruination is right beneath Red Sun’s Zenith in the sorcery section.

We can punish those richy-rich folk who want to crack fetchlands thanks to Ankh of Mishra, and Burning Earth will barely affect me considering I’m playing 30something Mountains and only a select few nonbasics. I think my favorite combo will end up being From the Ashes with Ankh of Mishra to kill someone outright after a Hidetsugu activation. While some might complain to me that ending games on turn 6-7 isn’t in the “spirit of Commander”, the upside is that we get in three times as many games! The curve is kind of awkward at the 3-4 drop slots, but c’est la vie.

1000% Growth (kind of)

While I was fishing through my bulk boxes to find cards for Hidetsugu and my cube, I decided double up by also pulling out all of the MP, HP, and damaged cards. Some had imperfections that I didn’t notice when putting them in the boxes, but others were damaged by customers not taking very good care of my cards when rummaging through the boxes. I have a setup where I can’t keep an eye on people because my bulk rares are at the shop, but I highly recommend doing so if you have a fat pack or so that you let people skim at FNM. There’s also the whole “theft protection reason”, but if you’re stealing bulk rares than you probably need them more than you need to read this article.

I also happily found a large chunk of cards whose prices had increased from the dime and quarter status into the $1, $2, or $5 range. I hadn’t really pawed through this bulk in the past six months (at least), so I was happily surprised that there weren’t any finance hungry sharks who stripped it clean on a weekly basis.

I know that the subheading says 1000% growth (implying that I bought all of these at 10 cents each and would sell them for a dollar each), but that’s not always true. It’s not exactly like I plan on being able to sell a dozen copies of Conjurer’s Closet over the next week at $1 each, even if I jam them in my dollar box. Most of the readers of this column don’t have a display case-esque situation, so those readers will likely be hoping to buylist the cards in the below pictures. Even in that situation, you’re still making 300-400% as long as you stuck to the rule of “Buy or trade for English, Near Mint bulk rares that have a gold symbol for ten cents each”.

dollarstuff
dollar stuff
$2+stuff
$2-$5 stuff

Mentor

Mentor didn’t exactly have a singular reason to go up, it’s just that people like drawing cards for cheap; mana and money. When a bulk rare lets you flood the board with tokens, use up extra mana, and draw cards, that card usually doesn’t stay bulk for long. While you might be mentally responding to this paragraph with “something something Bygone Bishop, I’d still stay away. Remember that Mentor took multiple years to pick up, it works on Tokens, and you only have to pay one mana per draw. I don’t actually like Bishop (Well, I like every rare at a dime, but some I like better than others.)

Impostor

I personally play Dark Impostor in my Marchesa, the Black Rose list and am usually satisfied with how effective he his in the late game. Stealing activated abilities is usually just icing on the cake, and the +1/+1 counter subtheme helps with Marchesa. However, I expect the real demand to be coming from casual vampire tribal, where players are always happy to steal abilities from other creatures and where removal is more scarce.

alchemist

Zombies. Innistrad. Return to Innistrad. Zombies. Need I say more? Oh, right. Mill. Three things combined into one card. Tokens. Four things. While I’m happy selling these out of my dollar box, I don’t fault you for wanting to eek a few more pennies out if you feel like throwing playsets in the spec box and waiting a while.

captive

While Mayor of Avabruck was the main Werewinner out of the SOI release (and one that I’ll always feel a pang of regret about when typing), several of the other previously bulk rare Werewolves suddenly transformed into $1 bills.

Shape Anew

This jumped a few months ago from a silly Modern deck that tried to put Blightsteel Colossus into play. It didn’t work out, but Modern brewers will always tinker (heh) with this kind of effect, and we could see some interesting new artifact mechanics out of Kaladesh. I’m happy with my large percentage jump, but there’s very low risk in holding onto these.

End Step

  • River Kelpie‘s movement has become much more vertical than the previous week’s MTGstocks interests have been showing. While it finally joined the dollar rare club, I don’t think this is a card that continues to sit at $1 for much longer. It’s main use is in Marchesa lists like my own, and there’s the looming likelyhood of a new Marchesa in Conspiracy 2.  Read River Kelpie a few more times and tell me why it’s not already $4-5.
  • I didn’t get the chance to write about my other bulk rare project, but don’t worry. Next week, I’m going to focus more on my experience foraying into building my first Cube! You get one guess on what the theme is.

 

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Reserved List in Commander

So About Those Legacy Cards….

Screenshot 2016-03-01 at 10.49.28 AM Screenshot 2016-03-01 at 10.48.39 AM

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.

Why Commander?

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.

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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.

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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.

Specsheet Tracking

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.

Screenshot 2016-03-02 at 2.41.31 PM

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.

Tower

Yavi

wind

earth

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.

 

End Step

  • 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.
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How is Removal Like the Wu-Tang Clan?

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.

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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 Insurrection is 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.

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Why trifle with other formats when EDH is so predictable?

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.

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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.

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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?

Shut It Down

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Card – Torpor Orb

What it stops – What doesn’t it stop?

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 Roon and 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 Spellskites and $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.

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Card – Rest in Peace

What it stops – Graveyard BS.

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 Mazirek and 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.

Check the left side of the homepage weekly
Check the left side of the homepage weekly

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.

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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’.

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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?

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Card – Thief of Blood

What it stops – Ezuri, but other stuff, too.

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 Animar should 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 Vivid lands 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?

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Generic Finance Article

[Greeting]

  • [Acknowledgement of reader base]
  • [Reference to last week’s article]

[Paragraph detailing plans for this article]

[Body]

  • 1-10 paragraphs
  • [Images]

[Closing Paragraph]

I want to talk about generic mana versus colorless mana now that the two terms can’t be used interchangeably, and I wanted to do it by making the article itself generic, but while that seemed meta and funny to me, it wouldn’t have come across and would have served to amuse only me, like an Easter egg hidden a little too well. I didn’t manage to make it happen, but I’m sure you won’t mind moving on, because there is a point I wanted to make this week: the differentiation between generic and colorless mana, a brand new concept, is going to matter. It’s going to matter a lot. So while the article itself won’t be generic, the subject matter is going to be. If you want a generic article I have a few sources I can point you to.

600-03697886 © Jean-Christophe Riou Model Release: No Property Release: No Generic Canned Food

The Distinction

This is what it looks like when I dive right into the topic at hand without a lot of foreplay. Try and keep up, I guess. It’s foreign to me, too, but we’ll manage.

Why is there a distinction between colorless and generic mana now? It didn’t matter before. As I’m sure 100 percent of you know, we have had to make the distinction because of a new mana symbol that has appeared on some spoiled cards.

endbringer

Look at Endbringer’s mana cost. Its converted mana cost is easy to suss out: it’s six. Endbringer costs six mana, five of which can be generic mana and one of which must be colorless mana; that is to say mana that originated from a colorless source. Generic refers to mana of any color used to pay non-specific mana costs like the little (5) in the circle we’re all used to. Like an Island putting a mana in your mana pool gives you a mana that can be used for blue or generic but not green, Island also gives you a mana that cannot be used for true colorless (non-generic) mana, which is denoted by the diamond mana symbol on this card in both the casting cost and two of the activated abilities. It’s not quite a sixth color, but it’s going to give you a little more trouble than you might imagine.  Planning for it is going to be important.

The Impetus

Why do we care about this distinction? Well, for starters, Endbringer is stupid. I love this card. I want it inside my decks. I want it inside me. I am not sure if I will be able to find room in all of my decks for this card, so I’m really trying to manage my expectations, but the more I think about how much I want to play this card and maybe some others like it, the more I realize it may be a little trickier than I thought. Colorless mana may not be as simple to come by as generic mana, and when the distinction matters, you need to really re-evaluate everything.

mirrorpool

Mirrorpool is a sexy, splashy EDH card that does everything I want a land to do. This plus a Crucible of Worlds is going to change the world. I was so doe-eyed over this card when it was first spoiled that I didn’t stop to consider how tricky this could be to activate. Five mana to make a clone is a bargain when it’s an ability on a land, but if we don’t have enough ways to make true colorless mana in our entire deck, we can’t play Mirrorpool at all. And I want to play Mirrorpool.

The Issue

Manabases in EDH are currently designed with accessing colored mana being pretty important. This may be a “basic land format,” where basics are just fine and cards like Burnished Hart, Solemn Simulacrum, Kodama’s Reach, and Myriad Landscape reward you for playing basic lands, and cards like Boundless Realms really reward you for playing basic lands, but we like access to the mana we need reliably. Players are so eager to make sure they get their colored mana that they don’t see a big issue with “risky” lands like Sejiri Refuge, Golgari Guildgate, and Gruul Turf. You notice players will play that last one, Gruul Turf, but aren’t super likely to play a card like Karoo which does the same thing but gives you a spare colorless rather than two colored mana, even in a mono-white deck? Players aren’t as in love with the Karoo effect as they are with having a land that taps for two colored mana every time they use it. This shows how important colored mana is to players. Whenever we need generic mana, Gruul Turf is good for two of them, helping us power out big spells like Genesis Wave or Primal Surge.

It’s trivial to generate generic mana, so we don’t think about how many sources we have, do we?

PopQuizHotShot

How many sources of true, non-generic, colorless mana do you have in your favorite EDH deck? Four? Five? Do you even know? Well, you probably have a Sol Ring, and maybe a Temple of the False God. Probably a few more. I’m going to estimate seven sources in a two-color deck, six for a three-color one, and maybe four for five-color lists. How close is this estimate?

The answer is a bit surprising. I started poking around online to find lists, mostly at random to try and get a decent sampling of what players are currently building. I found a Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck with one source (Maze’s End) right off the bat.  Some Oloro decks ran six or seven with sources like Pristine Talismanand some ran only three. I even found a few two-color decks that had zero ways to produce true colorless mana. Those decks were rare, but they exist.

Granted, the more likely a player was to be a tryhard with only one deck and load it up with fetches and shocks, the less likely they were to have sources of true colorless. Anyone can easily build with generating colorless in mind, but I think the point isn’t how easy it might be to fit more colorless sources in, but how hard it will be to take good, useful lands out to make room. Sure, we can upend our current mana bases and build them differently so we can jam one new card, but we probably don’t want to. Are there unobtrusive ways to still get the mana we need, not disrupt our lives too much, and have access to the true colorless mana we need? I have a few solutions—and there is money to be made.

Solution – Run Some Wastes

In a three-color deck, we already have cards like Burnished Hart, Solemn Simulacrum, Evolving Wilds, Myriad Landscape, etc. Jamming a few Wastes in there to tutor for means we can keep the same number of basics but have access to true colorless in the deck. We basically remove a few color-generating basics for a few Wastes.

Effectiveness as a Solution

This makes it harder for us to get colored mana. We could take every mana-producing land out and run 40 Wastes. Is that going to help us cast most of our spells? I hate the idea of weakening a deck’s ability to get colored mana. Otherwise, we’d run Rath’s Edge and Dust Bowl and Wasteland and Strip Mine and all the other utility lands in every deck. Unless your commander is an Eldrazi or a silver golem, you’re not going to want to take out colored basics for Wastes.

Is There Money to be Made? 

Yes, actually. I feel like Wastes will be everywhere and under-valued initially, but looking at snow-covered lands and foil snow-covered lands, I feel like foil Wastes could be as much as $10 in a year if they become popular in EDH. They’re almost certain to be undervalued at peak supply and rotation, and those are the two times I’d start to look at them. I’ve harped on this in other articles, so I won’t belabor the point, but Wastes are a card for some situations, just not solving our Endbringer problem.

Solution – Colorless Ramp

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We have a few lands and spells we could run that are such efficient ways to generate mana that we forgive the fact that the mana they give us is colorless.

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Effectiveness as a Solution

These do the trick, however a lot of these have restrictions. Whether you can only spend the mana on spells like with Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, have to sacrifice the land like with Crystal Vein, or having to wait like with Temple of the False God, these lands come with strings attached. However, we play with a lot of these cards already, because the restrictions aren’t so great as to keep us from playing them in decks that don’t require the colorless mana to be non-generic. If we want to jam a Kozilek or Endbringer (and I do want to jam Endbringer), that just makes these lands even better.

Is There Money to be Made?

Eh. The problem is the cards that are good enough to be played already are already expensive. Repeated reprintings has crushed the price of Temple of the False God to around $0.50, but the foil is $25 and seems safe but not poised to go anywhere but glacially upward. The cards that are the least obtrusive new inclusions have the fewest financial opportunities. The cards with the most room to grow are not played much now for a reason, and we’d need a huge increase in adoption to move the needle. My desire to play with a Staff of Nin that’s also a 5/5 isn’t enough, I fear. These cards do the trick, but they’re kind of doing the trick already. Sol Ring isn’t going to spike because it helps us draw a card with a bulk rare Eldrazi, it’s going to go in decks because it’s Sol Ring.

Solution – Lands That Do It All

Do you want to summon and activate Endbringer with the same lands that can help you play the Prophet of Kruphix that makes him even stupider? It’s pretty simple, really.

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Sexy, right?

Effectiveness as a Solution

Perfection. These give us two colors of mana and can also tap for true colorless, and don’t give us damage to boot. These can’t be tutored up with Burnished Hart like a Forest, fetched with a Misty Rainforest, or divined for with Cultivate, but these solve our problem and solve it good. If you have a Simic Guildgate, Thornwood Falls, or some other land that’s not super exciting but is in the deck because it’s cheap, taps for mana of two of your colors, and doesn’t deal you damage, you have a card to take out. Pain lands deal damage to you, but that rarely matters. The number of times I’ve lost games of EDH to my life total being reduced to zero pale in comparison to the number of times I’ve been milled, killed by commander damage when I had over 100 life, been hit with a quadrillion copies of Zealous Conscripts, or lost to Laboratory Maniac.  A pain land is “calibrated” for a 20-life format, so when you think about it, Yavimaya Coast deals about half a damage in EDH terms. I’ll pay half a life to get an entire mana any day.

Is There Money to be Made?

Yup. These were already a pretty good buy and these are a cheap solution for EDH decks. For a while I thought “check lands” were my go-to non-basic, two-colored land. The problem there is that there is a wild price divergence going on.

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It’s a little difficult to tout this cycle as the “answer” when there is such a price divergence going on. One has been reprinted much, much more often than the other, but you see my point. Jam a Sunpetal Grove all you want; I used to buy these for a buck cash from players before they stopped selling at all on TCGplayer for me. Enough players are fine playing guildgates and gain lands that come into play tapped that the fact that these sometimes don’t come into play tapped seems trivial.

Guildgates are durdly. Karoos don’t tap for colorless (except for actual Karoo). Shocks are expensive, and if you have them you’re playing them already and know they’re worth it. Too many utility lands like Alchemist’s Refuge dilute your ability to produce colored mana reliably, and even gold-star lands like ABU duals can’t get you the true colorless you need. Pain lands are perfect here. If only you could run more than one in a Vorel deck.

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This is the graph for an Origins foil. It’s under $3 with a lot of potential. There is the risk of even more reprints, true, but with core sets being a thing of the past, it’s less likely that we will see another printing. Most likely, the mana needs of each individual set will be covered by something new. For now, these cards are the cheapest they’re ever going to be and there are a lot of them in binders. If you can get these for buylist (cash is king no matter where you go), it’s pretty tough to lose. There is very little downside to adopting these in EDH and the number of lands each deck wants goes up precipitously depending on the number of colors it is. A two-color deck can only run one pain land, but a three-color deck can run three, and a five-color deck can run ten. Will it want to? I guess that all depends on how badly it wants to activate Mirrorpool and not Maze’s End.

It remains to be seen whether the few “true colorless” cards are going to be a significant price  driver in EDH. What is known is that with the pain lands being historically affordable and historically available and less likely than ever to be reprinted soon, these are a great target. Pain lands are generic. But that’s what we want.

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