Hey there! We're back from my little exploration into MTGO, at least for now. I'm glad that I got a relatively warm reception to that article, even though it's not really what you've come to expect from me. I had a lot of fun with it, and we can mark MTGO down as something I might revisit in the future, but not something that pays for your subscription fee. "Come on, DJ, get back to the good old black and silver symbol stuff." Noted.
With previews for Commander 2016 being piled on this week, I figured that might be a good place to start. Rarity is kind of... subjective... when it comes to preconstructed products, because the only difference in supply is how many precons the card gets put into and how many copies are included in each.
For example, all of the new uncommons from Commander 2015 were placed into two decks each. Two decks had Great Oak Guardian, two decks had Meteor Blast, and two decks had Thief of Blood. Meanwhile, rares and mythics were exclusive to one deck each: the BW Enchantments deck got exclusive access to Daxos's Torment and Grasp of Fate.
Of course, even the loose definition of "restricted" supply doesn't really mean a whole lot, because demand is a hell of a lot more important when it comes to evaluating the new "bulk" from precons. Thought Vessel was in all five decks, and is still one of the most expensive new cards from the product.
So what am I going on about here? Well, if you were around for the release of Commander 2013, you had a very nice opportunity to make some money. We all know about the True-Name Nemesis issue that plagued Legacy and Walmart for a while, but there were also some tasty after-effects that bulk-pickers like us could take advantage of. I watched a lot of people go out and buy the Mind Seize deck, strip it of its TNN, Baleful Strix, other rares, and Sol Ring. They tossed the remaining 80-something cards in with the rest of their bulk, which eventually made its way down to me.
If you're a frequent flyer of this Insider column, you can guess what I found. Fog Banks galore, and a non-trivial number of Vampire Nighthawks. I picked those Crumbling Necropolises, and smiled at the multiple copies of Swiftfoot Boots that could be sold for a quarter each at the time. Oh, and let's not forget the eternal $1 card itself: Command Tower.
I'm not saying that these players weren't smart; they knew to buy the product worth $55 for $35 at their local Walmarts and Targets, after all. But in the end, I was still getting each of the above-listed cards at a fraction of a penny each, and I'm much happier with those margins.
So... what am I going on about here? I realize now that I
kind of exactly asked that question a few minutes ago, then went on a mini-rant about a product from three years ago.
Okay. So one of my points here is that you should be looking for this product's Thought Vessel. They've already previewed a couple of solid mana-fixing cards at rare, but there's absolutely going to be some mana fixing included at common and uncommon. We want to look for the ubiquitous cards that will want to see play in other decks outside of these four-color monstrosities; much like Thought Vessel is adopted by Nekusar players worldwide and Commander's Sphere gets jammed into Narset. (By the way, that information was pulled from EDHrec.com, the best website by far for tracking EDH demand.)
When each of the above mana rocks was printed, they were fractions of what their prices are now. Initial supply will hit hard and fast, and you want to be the person acquiring the leftovers of these decks from the people who buy and shred them for parts. I really have no idea what that target-worthy mana rock might look like in this set, but I do believe that it will exist and be four times as expensive a year or two down the road.
One trend that my fellow podcaster Jason Alt has helped me notice is how incredibly resilient these Commander cards are to reprints. Remember how Crypt Ghast was beaten into a spooky pulp after that printing in the mono-black deck? Well, if you picked them up for quarters during those few months, you can enjoy quintupling up after only a couple years.
Remember Farhaven Elf being completely unbuylistable for a year or two after back-to-back printings? Well, now we can get quarters on them again. When Chromatic Lantern goes down to $3, buy some before you blink and it's back to $6 a year later.
So what about cards that aren't in all the decks? Well, I don't have any hard evidence to support this, but this all-colors-but-red badass Phyrexian Angel seems like it'll be a fan-favorite. You can go in so many different directions with this commander, it's ridiculous: Superfriends, +1/+1 counter themes, experience counters, infect... and the list goes on.
Contagion Clasp has always been a pet card of mine, albeit never buylistable for anything more than dimes. If it or Contagion Engine dodge reprints in this year's decks, I'd keep a very close eye on their stock over the next couple of weeks. Remember that foils will be completely safe, so anyone thinking, "I really want to build this deck and make it all shiny," should pick up their copies now.
To anyone else who's had the chance to pick Scars of Mirrodin bulk, I'd hold out on cashing in those Clasps for dimes until the dust settles from this spoiler season. The potential reward is a lot higher than the risk, in my opinion.