All posts by Cliff Daigle

I am a father, teacher, cuber and EDH fanatic. My joy is in Casual and Limited formats, though I dip a toe into Constructed when I find something fun to play. I play less than I want to and more than my schedule should really allow. I can easily be reached on Twitter @WordOfCommander. Try out my Busted Uncommons cube at http://www.cubetutor.com/viewcube/76330

Early Movement on Dominaria

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The week between the full set being previewed and prereleases happening is the time when prices start to move.

The earliest adopters are trying hard to get their cards in hand for the very first events, but one thing to note recently is that now prereleases happen at the same time for both online and in paper.

That means this week, we will start to see what’s in demand. What are people eager to build? Keep an eye on the online world, and be ready.

As for prereleases, I stand by this advice: Trade away everything you open. Most of it’s going down in price, but there’s some that are bucking the trend.

Karn, Scion of Urza (up $5 this week to about $37, give or take)

There’s a lot to like about Karn, as I wrote last week, but there’s also a lot of issues. Maybe he’s more Modern playable than I’d thought? Does Affinity secretly want to churn him into play and start making huge tokens? I doubt it, but Karn has jumped into being the chase mythic of the set.

It’s been a long time since we had a $50 card in Standard booster packs, and while it’s not impossible, it’s very very unlikely. Please don’t buy at this price. If he was $30 I could see him hitting $40, but more growth from here isn’t going to happen.

Jaya Ballard (down to about $6-$7 this week)

Her price was never too high, so it’s not like anyone lost a ton of money on her so far. Nonetheless this is a really low starting price for a planeswalker, and one as nostalgia-stuffed as Jaya should have a higher value just for the collectors.

We’ve gotten pretty jaded about planeswalkers, though. Did you buy Dovin Baan at $30? Maybe $20? $10? He started sliding early and never stopped.

$30, and saw play maybe once.

I’d venture that triple-red is as restrictive as WU, and her abilities are underwhelming. Even her ultimate is not a game-winner, just an advantage engine.

At the same time, picking up a set for $20 is super tempting. There’s a lot of time for her to get broken…but not too much time, as she rotates in 18 months, not the max of 2 years.

History of Benalia (doubled this week, now about $16)

This isn’t just about building the new hotness, but I do note that there’s a LOT of Vampire Knights already present. There’s a lot of synergies to be used, and please don’t overlook how good chaining these Sagas can be. Benalish Marshal has stayed steady at nearly $2, and that seems like the best card to pair with the Saga.

This is the foil price and if Knights are about to blow up, an excellent target.

I think this will come back down in price, but in the meantime, it’s good to know that if I opened one at the prerelease, I’d get to win with the card both in the matches I played and then when I traded it away.

Cabal Stronghold (Down to $4 from about $7)

It’s got further to go, too. The most broken thing about Cabal Coffers is how well it works with incidental Swamps and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. The Stronghold needs only basics, and that’s why this is not the second coming.

In your monoblack Commander deck, it’s still nothing too amazing. Your utility lands are not going to help, even Leechridden Swamp! So to profit, you need four basic swamps, and then you’re ahead one mana.

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Normally I’d be all over foils of a card like this, but the advantage is much smaller here and extracting value over time is going to take a very long time indeed.

Helm of the Host (foil, up from about $10 to the $15 range)

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This, though, has long-term value written all over it. Every Commander player I talk to is atwitter over this card, and a lot of them are simply nutty over the chance to have more than one copy of their commander in play.

Granted, not every deck wants to have more than one copy in play. Having two Experiment Kraj in play sounds pretty weak, and two Kemba, Kha Regent is also sort of lame. How about two Mairsil, the Pretender though? I have to admit that having two The Ur-Dragon attacking is the sort of thing that makes my head spin around in purest joy.

If you care that the equip and play cost is nine mana, then Commander isn’t the format for you. The name of the game isn’t always winning. It’s about doing broken and busted things, like having three Karona, False God in play and getting one more each turn!

I’m not buying this at $15, let me be clear. I’m not even going to consider it until the end of the format, when the OMGGIMMEGIMMEGIMME rush has worn off and I can get foils in the $6 range.

Just letting you know that it’s jumped and that it’s on my radar.

Darigaaz Reincarnated ($3.50 regular and also a $15 foil)

We’ve got no shortage of awesome Dragons, but the combination of flying, haste, trample, and ‘see you in three turns’ seems especially potent in Commander, and that’s why the foils are above 4x the nonfoil price.

Here’s all six standard-legal dragons!

There’s only a handful of Dragons in Standard at the moment, so I don’t think a Brawl deck that’s Dragon tribal is possible…yet. I love these foils long-term, but I’m going to need to watch how well the set is selling. I suspect it’ll move very well indeed, so we will see.

 

Cliff is an avid Cuber and Commander player, and has a deep love for weird ways to play this amazing game, as well as being guest host on MTGFF when needed. His current project is a light-up sign for attracting Cubers at GPs, so get his attention @wordofcommander on Twitter if you’ve got ideas or designs.

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First Look at Dominaria’s Prices

It’s here! Finally, after waiting untold years, we’re back on Dominaria and we have a whole lot of new cards to look at.

Today I’m sampling preorder cards and looking for bargains, though I’m fully aware that most preorders are a bad idea.

Let’s not wait, or talk too much, but just dive in!

Karn, Scion of Urza (about $32 preorder)

At first blush, you see five loyalty jumping to six and you’re super on board, but the problem is that new Karn needs a lot of help to be good. Even his -2 is going to be pretty lame unless you have lots of artifacts. Your worst-case scenario is making two 2/2 tokens over two turns for four mana, and unfortunately, that’s a common sorcery in this set.

Your best case is that you’re getting a card a turn, and that has potential, especially if you played a mana dork in the first two turns. Giving your opponent the choice of cards is always bad for you, but you’ve got the elegant -1 ability to get it back.

I would like to see this in Modern Affinity, but that’s super-niche and unlikely.

As for his price, the $35 isn’t going to hold. It’ll drop, and affecting the board is hard for him, so he’s never going to be a four-of. He’s got some amazing play in Commander, and I can easily see him getting out of hand in Brawl. I’d imagine he stabilizes around $15.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria ($15)

This is a little too on-the-nose price-wise for me. He’s instantly one of the best things to do in a WU deck, where defending him and getting the ultimate seems like the best plan ever. His plus ability helps you use the extra card, and we are getting Seal Away, making them best buddies.

As a two-or-three-of in only one deck, he’s never going to have a huge price, but he’s another planeswalker that Doubling Season works really well with, allowing for instant ultimates and enabling all sorts of shenanigans.

It’s possible he drops to $10, but he’s going to see just enough play to keep him between that price and his current price of $15.

Mox Amber ($30)

I’ll say it: I think this is not as good as many people think it is, especially for Standard and Modern.  The only cheap legends people are playing with in Modern are Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, and Kataki, War’s Wage. We have some three-drop Lilianas, but one extra mana on turn three (after dropping a Liliana) seems terrible to me.

Just don’t try to cast this on turn 2 after you cast Thalia…

Standard is a different animal but the design of this card means that you need to drop Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy on turn two, and then you can add a one-drop to the board. Hopefully. It’s not an accelerator, it’s a fixer, a helper, and being legendary it’ll never be a four-of by itself.

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Same thing for Commander: It’ll be good, a fixer, but very hard to play early and use in a broken way. Note that Legendary Lands do not allow this to be used, and Mox Opal doesn’t count either. As a result, I suspect this will end up in the $15-$20 range.

The enemy checklands (Isolated Chapel, etc, all around $4)

The mana for three-color decks is pretty good now. Having one Island out means you can have four other colors of mana come into play untapped. I strongly suspect that Esper is going to be the combination that takes over, given Cast Down, Search for Azcanta, and Seal Away as good cheap plays and the ease of mana.

This could be $30 by Christmas, depending on how control decks do at rotation.

This set of reprints has come along at the perfect time, and I think Isolated Chapel will climb the highest, to around $7. The rest are going to creep upward by a dollar or two.

Seal Away and Cast Down ($1/$1.50 each)

I would buy my playset now of either of these. We haven’t gotten to a point where people are playing enchantment hate, and we don’t have incidental hate (such as Dromoka’s Command) to clean these up.  These are going to see a LOT of play, as I wrote about last week, and somehow these are super cheap. I don’t think they will get expensive enough to make a huge profit on, but if you’re going to even possibly play Standard in the next year, get these now.

They are going to spike to $3, maybe even $4, but then trickle downwards.

Lyra Dawnbringer ($15)

She’s better than Baneslayer Angel, who had very specific protections that didn’t help much. Lyra offers a very powerful set of abilities, a top end that is hard to argue with in most decks, and nearly impossible to tangle with in combat.

Importantly, she’s immune to Cast Down, though not Vraska’s Contempt. I hated losing Baneslayer to Doom Blade, because that gap in mana spent is the easiest way to get ahead in a game.

She, along with everything else, dies to Chupacabra.

People would play 3-4 Baneslayer in a deck, and I think the max for Lyra is likely three. She’s a mythic, and a great Commander for an Angel tribal deck. I think her price will drop some, but not too much.

Gilded Lotus ($4)

We haven’t gotten a printing of this since FTV: Twenty in 2013, and not in a booster pack since Magic 2013 (released in 2012), which means that the originals are about to take a bath. Those had made it to the $13 range, but with this version at $4 that’s a gap that won’t last long.

I actually really like picking this up at $4. even if I do wish they had kept the FTV art. This is one of the best cards to cast in Commander, enabling all sorts of stuff no matter the number of colors.

 

Cliff is an avid Cuber and Commander player, and has a deep love for weird ways to play this amazing game, as well as being guest host on MTGFF when needed. His current project is a light-up sign for attracting Cubers at GPs, so get his attention @wordofcommander on Twitter if you’ve got ideas or designs.

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Dominaria’s Uncommon Power

We’ve learned some interesting lessons from the way that part of Dominaria was spoiled. One of the hardest things to do in MTG finance is stay away from preordering cards. I get it, I do, and I try very hard to understand what it takes to make me break that rule…but we got some punishments this time around, and here’s the big one:

We’ve all been there, but the shift in expected rarity is just a real kick in the teeth.

Ouch. Someone paid $40 to preorder a set of four uncommons right before the set came out.

Now, I understand the impulse. If you’d asked me, I would have said that this was a rare. It’s garbage in Limited, and that’s usually a slot which needs to be used for something to make the format better. I would have been on board with the $10 apiece tag, too, especially if you wanted to have these for the first Modern tournament possible. The card is a house against both the big-mana strategies (Tron/Eldrazi) and Storm, a good chunk of the meta, plus decks playing Snapcaster, or using one spell to set up another…

A beatable card, let’s not kid ourselves, but I am all for sideboard cards that say ‘beat this or lose!’

With the Sphere weighing heavily on my mind, I want to look at something unusual Wizards has been doing lately: printing powerful, and therefore valuable, uncommons. We had a few in Kaladesh block, but Ixalan kept it going and now it’s a full trend.

So let’s talk value!

Wizards has announced that they are going to go back to printing Standard-legal cards as FNM promos, and I don’t think they are going to start messing with rares in that space. I could be wrong, but I’m proceeding with last known information, such as Unlicensed Disintegration, Fatal Push, and Aether Hub.

Lock it down: We are going to get promo versions of Ravenous Chupacabra, Field of Ruin, Damping Sphere, and Seal Away. Wizards has already given us three promos to be given out during the three months of Dominaria: Opt, Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy, and of course Cast Down.

I miss the textless cards but I dig this new frame.

I want to buy Cast Down at ~$2 each.  It just packs such a punch in Modern that it needs to be considered. It’s one more mana, but I went scouring lists and I could come up with four Legendary creatures seeing a notable amount of play: Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Vendilion Clique, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, and Baral, Chief of Compliance. There’s a few who pop up here and there, but you’re more likely to see an Ornithopter than a non-Thalia legend.

I don’t think that Cast Down is the next Fatal Push. I want to be clear about that. Push has been a powerful card precisely because it’s a single mana. Going up to two is a significant cost but you’re going to see some mix of Push and Cast Down in Modern, and $2 seems cheap for a card that is going to have immediate impact in Modern.

The impact in Standard is real. Black decks are so stacked right now, the removal is so good, here’s a sample curve for mono-black.

Turn 1: Fatal Push your Elf

Turn 2: Walk the Plank your Shanna

Turn 3: Cast Down whatever

Turn 4: Ravenous Chupacabra, which kills almost everything in Standard anyway.

That’s where I would start, and I’d absolutely be maindecking at least two Golden Demise to deal with these pesky token decks. Duress is still there too, don’t forget.

NONE OF THOSE ARE RARES.

Don’t want to Walk the Plank? The world is your oyster. Never // Return. Vraska’s Contempt. Moment of Craving. Impale. Doomfall. Trial of Ambition. Bontu’s Last Reckoning. And don’t forget Arguel’s Blood Fast to keep your hand stocked. Maybe a Tetzimoc, Primal Death to end the game. Doesn’t really matter.

Back to my original point: Cast Down is really really good and will be more than the $2 preorder, but if you want to hold out for the FNM copies, I won’t blame you.

If you didn’t read Wizards’ post, note that stores aren’t going to give out a single promo per month. They are given the three promos in a big stack, and will give out the promos as they see fit. There’s not going to be a month where Cast Down gets cheap because EVERYONE gets one. It’ll be a steady current of additions.

I feel good about Seal Away at about $1. You have to wait for someone to attack with it, and it’s less proactive than Baffling End, but a set at $4 right now will save you a few bucks. I don’t expect this to impact Modern at all, be warned. I feel good that Cast Down will be $5-$7 at Christmastime, but Seal Away will plateau at $2.

Damping Sphere is a card I want to love. As I mentioned at the beginning, it’s a super-powerful card against a range of strategies, but the additional cost to play extra spells hits both players. You can’t just slam it in your deck and get them.

Don’t overlook how good this is against Burn, though. It’s got game against decks that want to flood the board with creatures, too, but it’s pretty darn lame against Aether Vial. Hollow One decks don’t much want to see this card, but that deck is capable of having 12 power in play on turn one.

Right now the Sphere is preselling for $5, and that’s a price where I’m not going to make any money for a long time. If it’s not reprinted, it’ll see enough play to eventually creep above that, but the initial supply is going to be big, plus the likelihood of a promo version. Modern decks aren’t going to all pack a playset of this, either. I’ll be hoping to get this in the $3 range at the end of summer.

We’re 1000 words in and I haven’t even mentioned Sagas, or the Memorial cycle of lands, or the new Black Knight and White Knight. That’s a low of power, and a lot of value, crammed into the uncommon slot, and we’ve had this in enough sets in a row to make it sort of official. I’d be interested in knowing what the rationale is behind this change, but I’m all for more $1-$2 (and more) uncommons!

 

Cliff is an avid Cuber and Commander player, and has a deep love for weird ways to play this amazing game, as well as being guest host on MTGFF when needed. His current project is a light-up sign for attracting Cubers at GPs, so get his attention @wordofcommander on Twitter if you’ve got ideas or designs.

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Kaladesh Block at Rotation

We’re halfway into the Dominaria previews but I never want to lose sight of a much bigger deal: The yearly rotation is coming up, and fast. At the end of September, Kaladesh block and Amonkhet block will rotate out of Standard, and head for one of three areas:

  1. Eternal formats like Modern and Legacy
  2. Casual formats like Commander and Cube
  3. The Bulk Bins (or the equivalent)

There’s going to be a bump in supply around the time of rotation, and in years past that was a big hit. That’s not so much the case anymore. Lots of soon-to-be-rotating cards have been trending downward for a while.

These are prices I want to watch, and I have an ideal price in mind. If things fall to that target, I’m moving in. If they stabilize above that price, I’ll have to evaluate what to do.

Spirebluff Canal ($8 nonfoil/$15 foil)

Red/Blue, available immediately…yup. Storm.

All of the enemy-colored fastlands are decent targets, especially because we’re overdue to get the allied-color ones reprinted someplace. They are not 100% gold in Modern, though, because a lot of decks don’t play the full set of four, often using two or less. Spirebluff is the most attractive because Storm, one of the most popular and least expensive decks, plays the full set. If Wizards decides that Storm is too good and needs a banning (again) then this will take a hit and there’s not much you can do to mitigate that risk.

Target Price: $6 and $15

I would like to hope for $5 but I think it’s a little too popular for that. $6 sounds about right, but I think this is a super-solid pickup at $15 for the foils, with the idea that you’re safe from a random Commander deck reprint.

 

Panharmonicon ($3/$10)

What song do you hear?

You know how good this is. It was $10 at release, as everyone sought to break it in Standard and it’s been trickling lower ever since. Frankly, I’m surprised that it’s gone this low already. It sees no play in formats besides Commander and casual circles, and that’s a two-edged sword. I love having a stack of these that can consistently appreciate over time, but this is also a card that’s very very easy to add to a new Commander deck printing and torpedo that value.

Target: $2/$10

I am much bigger on picking up foils here. Getting in at $2 won’t be traumatic, even if it gets reprinted I can put them aside for a long time and wait it out. Foils, though, because these are Commander gold. You don’t need a big stack of these, as the appreciation creeps upwards and I won’t be shocked when it is a $20 foil in a year.

 

Saheeli Rai ($4.50/$15)

There’s still an infinite combo to fire off in Modern, and considering that she hasn’t seen much play since the banning of Felidar Guardian, she’s not as cheap as you might expect. Nissa, Vital Force is $3. Dovin Baan is $2. That’s the expected rate for planeswalkers that see no play. Saheeli requires a Commander deck with artifacts for her ultimate, and she can’t be used in Atraxa decks.

Target: $4/$12

Something’s got her price up that can’t be tracked, and I suspect that it’s casual players. What I’m betting on, though, is a new infinite combo of some kind. It’ll be another mistake, and Modern will be awful for a couple of months, but I’ll be selling into that hype.

 

Inventors’ Fair ($1/$6.50)

What’s not to love about a land that will help your artifact deck out? It gets really tasty as a spec when you see that it’s a three-of in the Krark-Clan Ironworks deck that was 3rd place at GP Phoenix. Lantern Control has been playing one or two copies for some time, but really, this is a card that is an auto-add in artifact-themed Commanders. Being good in Modern will just accelerate the process.

Target: current price, maybe -10%

I don’t think this will fall farther, and honestly, the GP performance might lead to a spike. It’s already got a high foil multiplier, meaning that Commander players have been soaking up the foil copies these two years. The reprint risk is high here too, so foils are where I’d prefer to be.

 

Lifecrafter’s Bestiary ($2/$5)

Scrying and drawing. Are we sure its color identity is green?

I love this card. I honestly can’t play it enough in Commander. I love everything that it does for me and at such a low cost!

The reprint risk is still a real thing, and the foils are surprisingly low as a multiplier. The price has been edging upwards ever since it was sub-$1, and while you can still get playsets for $8 on eBay, that won’t last too much longer.

Target: current price

I don’t need this to drop lower, and I don’t think it will. It’s trending upward, and I expect it to stabilize in the current price range. It might even keep going up! Again, foils are safer and more likely to pop sooner, due to the much lower supply.

 

Whir of Invention ($2/$8)

I’ve sung the virtues of this card before, and while you can’t get it for under a buck anymore, you can still get in cheaply. I’m less afraid of reprints here, as it’s got a mechanic and a usage that’s more specific to artifacts and tougher to just throw in. It was a three-of in the KCI deck, so a spike this week may be incoming.

Target: Now. It’s been on an upward path, and the foils have hit prices of nearly $20 after it did well at the PT. Get your few now while the hype is low!

 

Bonus! Don’t buy these as spec targets, intriguing as it might be.

Verdurous Gearhulk ($4/$9/$27): The masterpiece foil makes the growth too slow for my taste, as great as it is. The foil will always be existing in limbo, but huge growth is not going to happen.

Exquisite Archangel ($1/$4): You might be thinking that this is Commander all the way, but really, how good is Platinum Angel? This is possibly good but it dies or get bounced first, and then you’re dead. Don’t fall into the trap here.

 

Cliff is an avid Cuber and Commander player, and has a deep love for weird ways to play this amazing game, as well as being guest host on MTGFF when needed. His current project is a light-up sign for attracting Cubers at GPs, so get his attention @wordofcommander on Twitter if you’ve got ideas or designs.

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