On Clerics: The Article I Said in the Spoiler Coverage I Was Going to Write

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I’m helping with the Spoiler Coverage for Oath of the Gatewatch. Well, I mean, am I helping, or am I just doing it and DJ is helping me? I’ll let you be the judge. Unless you think I’m helping him and not the other way around. Then I’m never letting you be the judge again. Usually you have to go to law school first, and you suck at it.

I said in said coverage that DJ is helping me with that I was going to write about one of the cards at length, because while I expect it’s probably going to be a bulk rare, I also expect it’s going to make an entire deck playable that people have wanted to play and have not been able to. I’m talking, of course, about Mono-Black Splash White Kor Tribal™.

The Coming Tide

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Real talk, though, having a black-white legendary cleric is something that people have wanted since EDH was a thing. We want four-color commanders, we want an Izzet-colored Commander that deals with artifacts, and we want a cockadoodie black and white cockadoodie cleric so we can build a COCK-A-DOODIE CLERIC DECK.

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We’ve waited for long enough. Ayli and Daxos have made me seriously consider converting to Orzhov, and this is after Simic basically gave me everything I ever wanted in the form of the new Ezuri. Infinite turns with Sage of Hours? That’s cool. What have you done for me lately? Lumping myself in with Orzhov people who have waited patiently for this momentous occasion aside, what would the deck play and what can we even make money off of?

The deck would play a lot of back and white clerics cards, and those cards are old enough to be scarce, yet new enough to be available in foil. This pleases me. There’s gold in them thar’ hills, and we can mine it ahead of the coming gold rush if we’re canny enough to know where to start prospectin’. So let’s prospect.

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EDHREC is a great resource for us, but without a commander to plug in, it’s hard to know where to start. It’s time to strap on our gumshoes and do some old-fashioned detective work. I googled “BW Clerics EDH” and looked at a few decks to see if they had anything in common. This gave me my first lead.

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This card will go in 100 percent of Ayli decks. It’s a way to gain life to make sure you switch on her last ability. It’s a way to kill people. Can you imagine having a ton of clerics and just one-shotting an opponent by saccing Doubtless One to this land?

Foils are under $2, and that seems insane but also easy to fix. There just aren’t a ton of copies of this land out there, and EDH players aren’t really socking these away into collections and decks because there really wasn’t a way to build this deck unless you did what some people did and built around Teysa or an Esper-colored creature that served to occupy your command zone while you played the clerics you wanted to play. With an actual commander, this land will be the first card to go, and with as cheap and rare as it is, I see real upside. Not only was identifying this card a leg up, it also gave me something to search EDHREC for.

How many decks that weren’t running a ton of clerics were going to run this land? Very, very few. This gave me a list of cards that were frequently paired in decks with Starlit Sanctum. So which cards are likely to go up based on the abundance of new clerics decks built around Ayli?

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Now here’s a real card. This can go in other decks, probably, but if we’re going to be sacrificing a ton of clerics, this gives us a way to replace them with bodies, and it has crossover appeal with zombie decks. Kinda. The point is that this has been pretty steady, had a recent brush with arbitrage, and is generally in low enough supply that it could easily jump over $5 and beyond if people give it any attention. How do I know a ton of people aren’t paying attention? Easy.

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The foil is has a multiplier of only two. Casual players are making Rotlung Reanimator a $2.50 card with a $5 foil, and Ayli can really drive both prices up and make the foil multiplier diverge. A foil cleric deck is doable right now with only a few cards like Auriok Champion being prohibitively expensive to foil out. I feel like the foils cost now what the non-foils could cost very soon if people start to build around Ayli.

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How about that Tiny Leaders format? I am not going to sit here and say, “I told you so,” but I did refuse to write about Tiny Leaders as a format before it really established itself as something other than a flash in the pan, and every subsequent “next hotness” that comes along like 1994 and Canadian Highlander I vow to stay out of for a year to give myself time to learn about them and for the formats to fizzle out. Now that the price of this cleric is returning to earth, be cautioned. The copies of this card are concentrated in the hands of speculators who couldn’t sell them, dealers foolish enough to jack up their buy price, and store display cases. When a card spikes after not really being a real card, copies come out of the woodwork. Speculators hit every LGS in the area to scour bulk bins and binders. People buylist them because they were junk and now they are worth something. Loose copies all get concentrated. If this card spikes again, even a little, the market will get flooded with copies. This is still too expensive for what it is, and I don’t see financial opportunity in trying to bank on this card going up based on clerics being popular. It’s a good card and good in the deck. It goes in the deck. But you’re not going to make money on this, I fear. There are too many people looking to undersell you to dump their hella copies and a much bigger shock will be needed to move the needle.

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Tapping five clerics may look a little steep, but gaining 10 life is a reusable way to keep your Ayli switched on and keep yourself from dying to regular damage. This is also a very old foil that’s under $2 and will go in every Ayli deck that’s built with victory in mind. This card’s fate, like so many cards in this article, is directly tied to Ayli, but with Commander players clamoring for a black-white cleric and finally getting their prayers answered, there is real upside. This card fuels several clericy win conditions, as well as making sure you can keep nuking non-land permanents with Ayli. This is a must-include.

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So many foil staples under $2. This is making me really want to just build this deck. A recent arbitrage opportunity and dealer behavior showing they are willing to come very close to the retail price, repeatedly, shows that dealers have a tough time keeping the relatively small number of copies in stock, but are willing to get these in and sell them for a small margin. This card is biggity-bonkers in a clerics deck and can make you friends at the table and keep your life total high enough to keep Ayli switched on. This is dumb. Under $2 is dumb.

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If this card were older, it might be closer to $2 in foil instead of the $1 in foil it is now. Protecting your life total is important, and this card can keep you from dying to a token swarm or cards like Goblin Bombardment, which happens more often than you might think. Expensive mana-wise, this is worth it. And it’s cheap money-wise, so I’m even more inclined to just build a foil clerics deck. The foil Debtors’ Knell will suck, but the rest of the cards are like a damn dollar. For now, that is.

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Conversely, casuals are already very aware of this tough-to-destroy creature who can get very large and very formidable very quickly. With foils at $13, there is room for divergence. It looks like this card will go up over time anyway, so it’s hard to lose here.

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I don’t know if you jam this in the deck, and if you do, how many, but just remember these were sitting on draft chaff piles for free and they’re approaching $2 and $5 in foil. Just thought this card was worth revisiting.

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This only tacks on $3 to our foil cleric deck price and it does WORK. A recent brush with arbitrage shows at least one dealer has confidence this will get somewhere some day. Personally, I just think it goes in the deck and probably just the one deck, but there is real upside. This is good in the deck.

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“Hey guys, remember me? Well, I make clerics. You need to sacrifice a cleric? Use one of mine. Can I make the game get out of control? Yep, sure can.”

Heliod seems to have bottomed out and is starting to creep back up. He’s a much more useful card in EDH than he was in Standard, and I expect to see him pass a few lesser gods on his way up. He makes enchantments and clerics at the same time. So many decks want that. Foils are only $8 for now, which seems super reasonable.

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I am seeing a lot of recent arbitrage opportunities on these $2 foils, and all around the same point in history. I wonder what happened that crazy month. Probably an article like this one. Am I creating false hysteria? I don’t think so—we’re getting a CLERIC COMMANDER.

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There are a few other creatures that are probably shoo-ins, like Eight-and-a-Half-Tails and Auriok Champion, a card that costs as much as the rest of the deck at $50 in foil. Those are fairly obvious. Put basically every cleric creature in the deck. Heliod, though, is less obvious, and I think you read my column because I come up with some things you might not have thought of on your own. How does this pile of clerics become a deck?

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This should take some of the sting out of sacrificing your clerics all day long. Getting them back for value all the time and being able to use Ayli a lot will feel good, and this card goes in lots of other decks. It’s not going to go down in price much, if at all, and any bump in demand should send the price up a bit. This is a solid place to park some money. I may even spring for the foil at $21. This foil clerics deck will be fun.

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This $6 card is available for $9 in foil. A 1.5x multiplier tells me that casual players love this card, and foil nuts like I’m gradually becoming aren’t as keen yet. But as cheap as it is, I’m springing for the foil, as there are so few copies that people paying attention to this card should see that multiplier grow even if the non-foil price grows more slowly. This card says “win the game” on it and rewards you for gaining life like you already planned to. Deal.

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The reprint at non-mythic rare threw this card off a cliff. You can pretend this is a $4 card all you want, but Battle for Zendikar copies are bulk. BFZ foils are $2. Will this card recover? Yes. Just not this year.

This used to be a $30 foil. I almost bought one, and I’m glad I didn’t, but even if I had shelled out like $25 for this, I would have been able to use it for a year before its price took a dump, and winning games with this would have made it worth it. BFZ foils at $2 seems interesting, but remember, it’s not mythic anymore, and that sucks. Now I know how Yu-Gi-Oh! financiers feel.

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Do people just not know about this card? How is this not more expensive? In any case, this does work in a deck where you are sacrificing your guys and want them back to sacrifice them again. This card is from Urza’s Saga, meaning it’s old enough to vote, and we’re not getting more of these printed because it’s so busted that Wizards saw fit to include it on the Reserved List. With the cards in Battle for Zendikar that reward sacrifice, this seems like it has upside to me.

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This could get reprinted, but until it does, why not Grave Pact them and make them not want to cast removal spells on your stuff? This card is growing very steadily because it’s busted, and clerics decks where your commander is a sacrifice outlet won’t shy away from this card by any means.

I went way over my word count and didn’t  even jam in my usual space-wasting rhetoric this week. This is a topic that could have easily yielded another full article full of picks. What I suggest is looking at how the deck would be built and getting ahead of the people who will likely want to build around Ayli when the set is released. Forewarned is forearmed, so be armed with the info from this article or I will forearm you in the throat. You know, with my forearm. That word means two things.

Did I make a clerical error and forget to include an obvious cleric card? Leave it in the comments below. Until next week, nerds. Smell ya later!

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13 thoughts on “On Clerics: The Article I Said in the Spoiler Coverage I Was Going to Write”

  1. Lifeline is amazing until you read the Oracle text for it. Then you realize why it is not used as much.

      1. No, it’s because now it only affects the first creature that dies. Previously it would return every creature that died as long as one was still alive.

  2. BACK IN MY DAY there was Black Clerics and there was White Clerics and that was that. None of this B/W Clerics nonsence.

    Clerics came in one of two colors and that was it. Clerics in B/W is just not natural, it’s a bloody disgrace.

    1. I’m not arguing with you at all. I will say that I tend to rely on EDHREC pretty heavily. While that site isn’t the be-all end-all, it will tell me which percentage of decks with Ayli as the commander run a given card. The higher percent correlation that card is tied to that commander specifically, the more likely it is that the card will go up solely based on the particular Commander getting more popular. What I’m doing is more art than science – combining an eye for deckbuilding with some data on what everyone is playing. Those cards are certainly playable. But if only 5% of players agree, the price won’t be impacted much. We’ll have to see how it goes.

  3. The comment on lifeline is incorrect. The Oracle wording is as follows: “Whenever a creature dies, if another creature is on the battlefield, return the first card to the battlefield under its owner’s control at the beginning of the next end step.” “The first” refers to the creature that dies (to indicate the rule does not refer to “another creature”). It doesn’t mean that only the first creature that dies returns. It still works as before.

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