Breeches, Eager Pillager$20.00 (+100.00%)
Aladdin$102.63 (+51.53%)
Swamp (0289)$5.00 (-50.00%)
Island (0287)$5.00 (-50.00%)
Plains (0287)$5.00 (-50.00%)
Forest (0291)$5.00 (-50.00%)
Mountain (0290)$5.00 (-50.00%)
Xenk, Paladin Unbroken$69.99 (+41.39%)
Vault of the Archangel$3.83 (+27.67%)
Food Chain$10.89 (-27.35%)
Serum Visions$4.46 (+26.35%)
Faerie Mastermind$13.49 (+26.07%)
City of Death$7.50 (+25.00%)
Fleshbag Marauder$6.25 (-23.03%)
Godo, Bandit Warlord$9.59 (-22.35%)
Thunderhawk Gunship$2.64 (+22.22%)
Mirrex$2.29 (+20.53%)
Notorious Throng$5.88 (+19.51%)
Rampant Growth$7.99 (-18.47%)
Jeska, Thrice Reborn$10.69 (-17.58%)
Island (1131)$17.42 (+17.39%)
Island (Post Malone)$5.38 (-17.23%)
Sentinel of Lost Lore$2.00 (-16.67%)
Preordain$4.84 (+16.63%)
Flamekin Harbinger$6.09 (-16.58%)
The First Sliver$25.00 (-16.47%)
Terminate$11.99 (-15.32%)
Asceticism$4.99 (-14.55%)
Nekusar, the Mindrazer$12.23 (-13.99%)
Phyrexian Arena$4.58 (+13.37%)
Daxos the Returned$5.99 (+13.02%)
Chandra's Ignition$12.39 (+12.64%)
Abrade$12.25 (-12.50%)
Preordain (CMR)$4.99 (-12.46%)
Tinybones, Trinket Thief$11.82 (-12.44%)
Grave Pact$17.61 (-12.39%)
Garruk Wildspeaker$11.00 (-12.00%)
Thassa's Oracle$48.41 (-11.97%)
Misleading Signpost$4.02 (+11.36%)
Talisman of Hierarchy$2.65 (+11.34%)
Rite of Flame$3.35 (+11.30%)
Bottomless Pit$6.68 (-10.93%)
Tempt with Reflections$2.05 (-10.87%)
Deadly Dispute$2.77 (+10.80%)

Crunch Time

18 Jul
by Jason Alt


The nature of writing finance articles to be published at some point in the future means that occasionally I'll have info that will be meaningless half a week from now. I like to write at the absolute last minute and everyone else who has to make my work presentable wants me to do not that. Most weeks we compromise - I wait until the last second but I apologize.

This week isn’t most weeks - I’m writing in plenty of time for this to get a nice patina of turd polish before it’s presented to the public. The problem with that is that I want to write about something very time sensitive.

I have an idea, though - perhaps I’m like Gandalf (hear me out, this bit pays off) and I do not arrive late, but precisely when I mean to. What if I’m not writing a super late article about how to number crunch Commander Masters - I’m writing a super early article teaching you how to number crunch the next set that is mostly reprints. Let me start over. 

*Insert Time Travel Noise*

Hi, you’re reading an article I wrote back in 2023. What is life like in my near future? Are the wildfires still really bad? Remember how 2020 kicked off the year with a big fire and then everything has been on a slow downward slide since?

Anyway, thanks for reading this article that I wrote a while back, when we were halfway through Commander Masters previews. Not all of the set has been revealed and people have begun to “crunch” the set, as it’s sometimes called. As most of you know, “crunching” refers to crunching the numbers, which is just a fun way to describe doing what is basically math. The TL;DR of crunching a set like Commander Masters - each card in the set has a number. Since sets are divided by color, then sub-divided alphabetically within color, we can eliminate a lot of possible reprints by “crunching them out,” or noticing that a given card could not possibly be in the set because it would have to occupy a number in the set that is already occupied by another card.

I’ll give an example - we know Kresh the Bloodbraided is not in Commander Masters. If you look at the confirmed reprints in the set and check their number in the set, #581 is Karador, Ghost Chieftain and #582 is Kykar, Wind's Fury. Since Kresh is between Karador and Kykar alphabetically, it cannot be in the set because there are no unknown gold foil etched legendary creature cards that fall in the alphabet between those two names. Kresh is “crunched out,” meaning it’s been mathematically eliminated. Or alphabetically eliminated. Either way, not in the set. 

That was a snooze if you already knew that, but I wanted to make sure everyone is on the same page. OK, now what? It’s the future and we know zero cards from the upcoming set, “Reserved List Masters.” We can, however, prepare. It’s really as simple as creating a list with the number of cards in the set, writing the name in its numbered spot and seeing if you can eliminate any possible reprints by looking at which cards are crunched out. Alternatively, you don’t even have to do that - the good people at MTG Salvation were good enough to do it for us way back in the past when Commander Masters came out, before the locusts and the volcanic eruptions that happened in late July of 2023. 

Stock Up on Canned Food

From this pic you can see how I crunched out Kresh, a card that would have to have some ridiculous art to get people to play it in 2023 when I wrote this, let alone in 2024 when sulfur rains from the heavens and robotic dogs patrol the streets at night. I mean, it wasn’t likely to be in the set anyway, but what about Karona, False God, Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, and...there isn’t a third one. This wasn’t a great example; sue me, I was literally illustrating how to crunch a card out and I saw this cluster of cards and went for it. You can do it anytime cards are “touching” like this. Nothing between Ky and Ma also means it rules out any gold legendary creatures that start with L. Please don’t look up how many cards that is. Fine, you got me, it’s one - Lyzolda, the Blood Witch

The thing is, this cluster was an easy one to look at because there are so many rules. To be between Kykar and Maelstrom Wanderer down in the set numbers that signify etched foil reprints, the card would have to be a gold legendary creature that falls between them alphabetically. Of course, that’s not crunching out much. Moving to other sections, though, will pay off for us.

Now that we’re all on the same page regarding the vocabulary I insist on using, let’s look at how you could have benefitted from the Commander Masters crunch way back a half week after this was written in 2023. Who knows, maybe when this article was first published, people still had some time to pick up copies of significant cards that were crunched out. 

I think of “significant” perhaps differently from how other people are going to. I don’t want to think about what cards are good in which formats and come up with a huge list of cards that merely won’t go down as a result of not being reprinted and then try to sell them to someone else who has the same idea as me. I did that for like two years and bailed. It was too stressful. Lately, I just look at what EDH is going to do and look at cards that are going to be built in decks right when the set comes out and which aren’t in the set. In the case of Commander Masters, I look at stuff that should have gotten reprinted in the set but didn’t, and Commander precons. There was no point to teaching you about this in the week between previews of the set and the previews of the cards in the precons - they dump all four lists unceremoniously and there is no real time to crunch anything in the precons. In my future, your past, I will have written a follow-up article about looking at what to pick up now that the entire set is known. I would link it but I haven’t written it yet, but I will have by the time you read this. I… hope?

[Me too. - ed.]

All of that is to say that the cards I tend to look for won’t be crunched out until the very end, and we had another week after I wrote this to look at the full set. In the intervening week, though, I wanted to talk about cards that are crunched out of the set and are just good in EDH in general, so that their skipping a reprint in the main set while being unlikely to be in the precons as well, means that anyone who was waiting to buy these to see if they got reprinted will now feel free and the price could go up. I think the following crunch-outs are significant to the format in general and I hope this helps you in the future, too. 

Naturally I looked for clusters in the artifacts section first. Artifacts have the most growth potential because they are not limited by color identity and can go up as the result of multiple new decks, and if they’re format staples they’ll need more than one reprint to keep their price down. Check out what one reprint did to Sapphire Medallion

The first reprinting brought it down as low as a couple of bucks, which seems wild given its ubiquity in EDH. 

This picture says it all - it’s in 2% of every deck on the database. Not just blue ones - Sapphire Medallion has no color identity and is technically eligible for inclusion in any deck. It’s in 2% of 2.75 million decks. It sees some play. We could see similar opportunities with artifacts that are played a lot in Commander and are already crunched out. If a card you do like gets reprinted, buy them while they’re cheap. Remember seeing Commander 2014 Sapphire Medallion at $2.50 and wondering why you’re paying 10 times that now. 

One thing I did on EDHREC that helped a lot was going to the top colorless cards page by navigating through the dropdowns thus. 

On that page, you can click “Table View” 


And when the table comes up, you can click “Name” to sort the list alphabetically rather than by inclusions or price. Sorting the most-played artifacts and lands alphabetically allows us to see very easily which of the most-played artifacts and lands in the format are crunched out already. 

This is a very fine-toothed comb we’re using here - we’re really limiting ourselves to like 100 possible cards, max. I think that’s good - we’ll find a small number of hits and an even smaller number of good ones. 

First up, everything between Boompile and… Brass Knuckles? I don’t expect either of those cards to be on our Top cards list, but there could be cards between them alphabetically that are. 

Sure enough, even on a small list like this, we have quite a few artifacts crunched out by Boompile being immediately followed by Brass Knuckles. I’m not running out to scoop up Bontu's Monument, but this took a few seconds to check out the spreadsheet sorted by name, and we can move through very quickly. 

For example, there are no good cards between Champion's Helm and Chromatic Lantern, so we can move on. 

Same deal with Extraplanar Lens and Fellwar Stone.

Knowing all of the cards between The Immortal Sun and Jeweled Lotus crunches out Isochron Scepter. It also crunches out Inkwell Leviathan and Jester's Cap. As more cards get filled in, we crunch more. Learning 392 could crunch out Illusionist's Bracers. 397 could crunch Krark-Clan Ironworks

Here are some cards that are crunched out already that I think could go up.

Post-Crunch Pickups

In order to know for sure that this card was crunched out, you would have to know that Wizards said there were only three colorless legendary creatures in the set, and we know all three of them. None of those three are a card that has been crunched out - Emrakul, the Promised End.

This card is currently half the price it was at its peak. With confirmation that it isn’t in the precon, I think people are already pulling the trigger. 

This doesn’t alphabetically preclude other D&D Dragons, but in a way it at least precludes a whole cycle. In general, crunching out one card crunches out cycles and I think Old Gnawbone plus Astral Dragon and Ancient Silver Dragon being crunched out bodes poorly for Goldspan Dragon

A whole raft of cards are crunched out in between The Great Henge and Heroic Intervention, including cards that could really use a reprint, like Greensleeves, Maro-Sorcerer, Growing Rites of Itlimoc, Guardian Project, Hardened Scales, Greenwarden of Murasa, and Green Sun's Zenith. I think Guardian Project not getting new art in this set is baffling. 

Thanks for joining me, people of the future. The week after I wrote this, I will have written a follow-up, and you should definitely check it out, as well. Maybe wait a week, though, just to really let your thoughts about this one solidify. Thanks for reading, nerds, and if you have any questions about how to use MTGStocks or EDHREC, please ask, because it’s my favorite Magic-related topic. Until next time! 

Check out these articles:

Hidden Gems - All Aboard the Faerie Train by Adam Berg

Modern Times - MOM Revisted by Corey Williams

A Penny Saved, A Bauble Earned by Ryan Cole

Jason Alt
Jason Alt

Jason has been writing about Magic: the Gathering since 2010. He currently writes an EDH-focused column on and is the content manager of EDHREC and Commander's Herald. When he's not writing you can hear him as the cohost of the Brainstorm Brewery MtG Finance podcast weekly on YouTube and all podcasting apps. Follow him on Twitter for more free finance tips - free in the sense that you don't pay with money, but with having to see too many tweets about hockey.

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