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In my first article, I mentioned the two major types of buyers when it comes to MTG Finance, long-term and short-term. If you haven't read it I suggest you check it out here. There are other types of buying/selling/investing that fit somewhere in between, but understanding where you want to be is an important step for getting into this game. Timing happens to be another important step.
What to look for
There are a lot of ways to do research on cards. I've listed a few resources in my recent articles and you can find a multitude of them across this website as well. Using said resources, or ones of your own (we all have our secrets sometimes), you can start to gather data on trends. Let's use a popular example for now: EDHRec.
If you're not familiar with EDHRec, it's a fantastic website that's full of everything Commander related. It has articles, decklists, videos, and loads of data to use. Near the top of the page is a variety of menus, one of which allows you to search for decks by their commander. You can search by 2-color, 3-color, etc. or you can search by "Top Commanders". I'll save you a few seconds - here is the link. It has "Commanders of All Time" and "This Week" - we are mostly interested in "This Week". The past two or three months there have been some common themes such as Atraxa, Praetors' Voice, Lord Windgrace, and Muldrotha, the Gravetide.
These are good commanders to check in on once in a while in the instance something new has popped up. However, when new sets come out we get new toys for EDH. A great example of this is Feather, the Redeemed. She became an EDH all-star when she was spoiled, and the internet exploded with great combos and one-hit wonders. Since a lot of the cards that are good in Feather decks have already spiked we should take a look at another commander. Ever so slowly Niv-Mizzet Reborn has made its way to the top of the "Top Commanders" list. As of the writing of this article, there are 270 decks listed on EDHRec and it is ranked #114/888.
So now we have to answer the following questions:
- What is popular in the Niv-Mizzet decks?
- Are those cards a decent investment?
- When do you invest?
What is popular?
Scrolling down through Niv-Mizzet we can see a ton of multicolor and "multicolor matters" cards because that's what this Commander is all about. So how do we pick through what's going to be important? The first card we see that could be a hit is Tome of the Guildpact. Mana rocks are always great in Commander and this one is specific to multicolor cards. When we look at the foil price, Card Kingdom has it at $1.49 and it can be found on TGGplayer for under $1. Yes, it was printed recently in Ravnica Allegiance, but this is a long hold that could yield some cash one day. We can also add to that list Firemind Vessel. Sure, these prices seem great and buying sounds like a great idea, but shouldn't we have a bit more data to back up our plan?
We should also take into consideration both of these cards are in roughly 30% of the 270 Niv-Mizzet decks. If we expand further on that we find Tome is in 260 decks total and Vessel in is just under 400 decks. Out of over 200,000 decks on EDHRec these cards aren't very popular at all. My suggestion would be to not go very deep on these, should you feel the need to buy them.
A bit more scrolling leads us to Bring to Light, Anguished Unmaking, Pillar of the Paruns. To answer our first question about popularity we can dig a bit deeper into each card. All three of these cards are in under 37% of decks listed on EDHRec. Bring to Light is in 3264 decks, Unmaking is in almost 20k decks, and Pillar is in under 400. This is just data from EDHRec though, and I encourage you to do a bit more digging.
Bring and Pillar are currently being tested in Modern decks with the recent MTGGoldfish Deck Tech for a Niv-Mizzet Reborn deck as well as seeing quite a bit of success under the piloting of Jim Davis and Tier Fun on YouTube. Unmaking has been slowly creeping up - it was sitting around $3-4 only a few months ago and has been waiting for something to push it up. The foil version of this is also not at a typical 3-5x multiplier for the numbers that are being seen in EDHRec data. These three cards all have enough support for me to want to consider the next question.
What cards are a decent investment?
Let's start with Anguished Unmaking again. Both foil and nonfoil versions of this card were at an all-time low around January of 2018 and have been on a slow crawl ever since then. It's a slightly worse Vindicate that is Modern legal. Let's also be honest - the art is GORGEOUS in foil. The fact that it was also a prerelease card and a Game Day promo does hurt it a little bit, but at about $7 (nonfoil) and $9 (foil) this seems like a great card to pick up.
Bring to Light can be found in a lot of bulk bins and for fractions of a dollar online. Card Kingdom has it at $0.25/$2.99 and it can be found for about the same prices on TCGplayer. That's a fairly cheap price to be picking these up. I would also argue that, especially for folks who are newer to MTGFinance, these foils are a great way to get into the finance game.
Pillar is an interesting card. It can be found (as of the writing of this article) for around $9/$30. It is QUICKLY spiking due to the Modern play it's seeing (I.E. the Seth-Effect) and is something to keep an eye out for. This is a great example of something that has sat in binders and bins for a long time just waiting for the right card to come along. From the moment War of the Spark was spoiled and about a week ago I would say this card was a seriously decent investment. Now I'm not so sure. I would say these are great cards to trade your chaff for or if you are one of those lucky folks who have an LGS that slacks on pricing to pick up.
When do you invest?
Anguished Unmaking is a great investment right now. It was the best investment about a year ago leading up to now, but it still has a chance to hit it big. I honestly think nonfoils could hit $12-15 one day and foils $20+. It's a great card to add to your cart if you need to hit a "free shipping over $50" type of shop or something to add on to a trade to finalize it. I have a few of these sitting on my table and that pile slowly grows each month.
Bring to Light is an AMAZING investment right now. It's only going to gain you money unless it's reprinted (for some reason). I would be picking these up fairly actively, but not too aggressively. Add a handful to a cart here or there, maybe make a $10-$15 buy occasionally. It has the potential to spike if it meets the right requirements, but it also has "Commander love" for multi-color decks to make small gains over a long period. I'd say buy them and tuck them away to forget about until the time is right.
Pillar is, in my opinion, a missed opportunity. However, it is something we can learn from. If scrolling through EDHRec is a resource that you want to use, then this teaches that we should be on the lookout for slightly random cards from older sets that folks have forgotten about in other lists. The same can be said for most of the cards on the "Top Commanders" list.
Using EDHRec is just one of many ways to figure out specs, and it's quite a fantastic heap of data. Just like any other resource, you shouldn't rely strictly on just one data point and need to back up your specs with things like Top 8 lists, YouTube videos, and social media conversations. One of my rules (I've mentioned it in past articles) is to justify your specs and believe in them. You can't just say "this deck plays this card so I'll buy X copies in hopes of making money." Dive deep into the resources/data and figure out why it's important to buy. When should you sell? That's a whole different topic we can visit next time.