Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Preorder Lessons from GRN


I feel like this preorder-into-new Standard season has yielded some results that I need to re-examine. I was spot-on with Dream Eater being underpriced, but I was way way off on some others, and in my quest to improve and make money, I have to figure out what I did wrong.

So come with me on a journey of self-reflection, and what could have been.

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Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP (next up: Oakland in January!) and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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The First-Week Frenzy

There’s nothing like the first week of Standard results and a big event on camera to make me look both quite good and quite bad.

We’ve had more than a few cards jump, and jump impressively, from Guilds of Ravnica and from the other Standard-legal sets.

Today I want to look at a few of those cards and see if there’s still room for growth, or if it’s time to get out.

Banefire (from $1.50 to $4)

This is a popular sideboard option in a range of decks, including the still-popular Mono-Red and the more midrange Boros Angels. It’s been printed a bunch of times, though, and this is not going to hold. If you can buylist older copies, I’d do that. It’s not huge in Commander, either, so we don’t have that going for us.

It is fantastic against slow control decks. Mostly they can’t rip apart your hand, and the uncounterability is very very relevant in a metagame which has Teferi.


Lyra Dawnbringer ($14 to $23)

Quote: “Lyra Dawnbringer ($13/$30): For a card that started out ridiculously strong and who tops an impressive tribal curve (Resplendent-Shalai-Lyra), she’s fallen quite a distance. There’s some risks here: She might never be good in Standard again, and the other Constructed formats are not homes for her. She might be in a Challenger deck in the spring. She’s only got a year till she rotates.”

That’s from a few weeks ago when she was $13. I go on to say not to buy her, as going from $15 to $20 is hard to cash out of. Lyra is so good in so many ways, maindeck and sideboard. Her value against mono-red is extreme, as you can’t race her for long (she kills you!) and she’s pretty amazing at boosting your team of Angels.

She’s in a weird spot. I think she’s going to hit $30 again, but that rise is not enough to get me to buy at $23. If I had any, I’d hold a bit longer.

Risk Factor ($5 to $9)

As I said in the preorder article, I tried like hell to make Browbeat good. The problem was that they would always take the damage, and I’d have to hope to draw another piece of burn.

Jump-start makes this card so much better. It’s not five damage once, but eight damage on the second casting. I should have figured this one out, frankly. My comparison was accurate–Browbeat has never been a star–but I overlooked the power of getting two castings of the same spell from one card.

You cast this. Opponent: “I’ll take four.”

You Jump-Start it and ask, “I’ll give you a chance to answer the question correctly.”

I’m not buying at $9, not for a rare in a set with shocklands and is likely to sell ridiculously well, but in three months when this is a $2ish card and we’re moving to the next set, I’ll remember this.

Star of Extinction ($2 to $8)

I’m looking high and low and I can only find a couple of decks running this as a sideboard sweeper.

Easy to forget it’s a mythic.

Yes, it’s a cute combo with Truefire Captain, but that seems like a questionable combo, the four-mana creature and the seven-drop sorcery.

It’s a mythic from the big set, and it’s spiked hard with a year to go till rotation. It’s seven mana. It’s not seeing any Modern play. It’s not popular in Commander. It’s seven mana. Dump this card right now.

Experimental Frenzy ($2.50 to $5)

Now this makes a lot more sense. It’s a two-or-three of in all sorts of red decks. It’s quite popular with the decks that would run The Flame of Keld, but instead of a one-time boost of two extra cards, it’ll just play as many as possible in a row. It’s very straightforward and quite powerful.

I don’t see it going a lot higher, but it’s going to get some camera time soon and that’s REALLY going to get people flocking to the card. I fully expect a streamer to give it some serious play and that might bump it a little higher…but not enough to make it worthwhile to buy at $5.

The proliferation of low-to-the-ground red decks is encouraging me to pick up a couple sets of Vance’s Blasting Cannons at bulk prices. The Buy-a-Box promo is tempting at $6, too. Unique versions of cards always get me thinking, even if they aren’t immediately good.

Journey to Eternity ($2.50 to $7)

It turns out that the enemy-colored enchantments from Rivals of Ixalan fit VERY well with the the guilds that share a color. Plus there’s this deck, which is a testament to the question, ‘What does a Meren deck look like in Standard?’ and the answer is, the grindiest of grindy decks.

Is that deck good against the many flavors of aggro AND the controlling decks? We’ll see.

The jump for this card got me thinking about the other Rivals transform cards.

Path of Mettle is a lot of hoops to jump through, but the land’s ability to deal two damage is good. Field of Ruin is still a thing though, and people are packing the hate to deal with Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin. Buying in at around a dollar each is a pretty low point of entry, but it’s a big jump from mono-red aggro to Boros aggro.

Storm the Vaults doesn’t play with Izzet’s plan at all. A shame.

Godless Shrine will be besties!

Profane Procession is in the next block, as is Hadana’s Climb, making those two very strong targets. Procession will cost you $1-$2 each, and you’re placing a bet on how viable Esper control will be once we get the Orzhov cards.

Hadana’s Climb seems like an even better target because of the ‘play it and flip it’ factor we’ve seen glimpses of. Ironshell Beetle seems like an odd reprint right now, but what if it’s hinting at what the Simic will be up to? The previous sets had a lot of counter synergies, and I’d be surprised if that wasn’t true this time around too.

Just good in so many Simic ways!

The Climb is at about $1.50 each right now, but it’s only present in 866 decks over on EDHREC. For a card with that little play, that price is a little high, and I suspect the invisible hand of the casual players is at work. I like this as a buy right now, and if it doesn’t hit in three months with the new Simic cards, you’ve got a long-term spec to pack away until it gets big again. 


Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP (next up: Oakland in January!) and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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Early Movement of GLD

We’ve had our prereleases, and we’ve got some big changes to Organized Play, but the best weekend of a set is here: our first chance to play with the new cards!

Guilds of Ravnica has introduced a slew of new options, and with shocks plus allied checklands, you’ve got tremendous options when it comes to what colors you can play or even splash for.

There’s already been a few cards that have had hefty price movement before this Week 1 of New Standard, and it’s time to dive in and see where it goes.

A caveat, before we begin: a lot of these prices are for this magical week between prerelease and the actual set, so prices are most likely going to go down, except for the ones that look great on camera this weekend.


Mausoleum Secrets (Started out $8 in preorders, now $2, foils currently $10)

I’ve been part of a few conversations with this card, and I’m not yet sold that the hoops are worth jumping through to get this card. It’s pretty narrow, and has a real setup cost. Surveil helps a lot, and at least you get the card in hand after all the work of self-mill and wanting only black cards. I’m having trouble seeing it as a good card in any format.

More hoops to jump through than a 50’s movie!


If the foils keep dropping and end up at $5 or less, I’m going to have to think about getting a stack. There’s not a lot of tutors which are Modern legal, and this might be a card that gets broken in the future.

For now, I’m staying away.

Beast Whisperer ($5, now $1, foils are $6)

An Elf who has Glimpse of Nature built in. This is Commander gold, as I’d said, and while I’d like for this to be a Standard player, there’s not a lot of immediate payoff for playing something so small on turn 4. If you untap with it in play, you’re in great shape, but getting there is the problem.

For comparison’s sake, Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice, is also four mana and immediately represents a big problem for the other player.

The foil demand is strong with this card, and I don’t expect that to cool down too much. I want this in every Commander deck ever, and I’ll be surprised if the foils get to $3, even if nonfoils are bulk.

Dream Eater ($3, now $7, foils $13)

Proud to say I called this one as an underpriced mythic. I bought two playsets at a little under $3 each, and I’ve already resold one set to cover that whole cost. I’m keeping the other four, both as a freeroll and in case I want to build a sweet control deck.

I am not sold that the card is good enough to warp Standard, but it was underpriced at $3. Hope you got yours too.

March of the Multitudes ($7, now $15, foils $27)

I’m not proud to say that I was way off on this card, at least for right now. My mistake was comparing it to Empty the Wastes in Modern, when we have to remember that this card is in Standard, where there’s less that can deal with it effectively. Yes, it’s a Goblin Chainwhirler’s dream to face a player packing this, and one little Negate does a lot of work to stop it.

The second one is just bananas after the first resolves.

It’s also an excellent test spell at the end of their turn to test for countermagic, and the way one of these feeds the second is like a far worse Sphinx’s Revelation.

Pelt Collector ($4, now $10, foils $20)

Thank goodness this isn’t a Human, else it would be a four-of in that deck too. It’s grown on the idea of the aggro decks of all flavors who want to get this card super big super fast. It’s hard to make this bad in a green deck which can go this into the following mana curve: Steel-Leaf Champion, Nullhide Ferox, Gigantosaur, Carnage Tyrant.

Just brutal. Needs a Temur Ascendancy though.

This was a card that Todd Stevens was very high on in the MTG Fast Finance from a couple weeks ago, and he was very right about the price of the card.

Risk Factor ($3, now $6, foils $9)

I want to see this card do well before I acknowledge defeat. I tried all sorts of ways to make Browbeat good, and this is less damage!

Plus it lacks the ‘bully’ art of the original Browbeat.

Having Jump-Start is sneaky brilliant for a card like this, though. Sure, they take four the first time, but if you’re being liberal with your aggressive creatures and direct damage, you’ll be ending the game very quickly.

Generally speaking, giving your opponent the choice is not a powerful thing to do. They will do what’s best for them, and that’s usually to take the damage, but they can’t do that twice if you’re drawing even half-decent. I’m hearing and reading that a lot of players are having success with this dealing eight damage to most opponents.

Divine Visitation ($10, now $6, foils $18)

It’s creeping downward and foils are passing the price I thought sure they’d keep. I didn’t buy any yet, so I’m really hoping that the foils stabilize soon. This seems like the easiest card ever to add to Commander decks that are full of tokens.

It’s possible that Cathar’s Crusade is even better for token matters, but that’s such a pain to keep track of. Plus I love the idea of using Serra Angel as tokens!

If the price continues downwards, it’ll crater out, and I’ll want to have a supply of these for long-term holdings.


Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP (next up: Oakland in January!) and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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Golden Rarity

Last week was the mythics (I just bought 8 more Dream Eater, I’m not all-in but it’s a cheap spec) and now it’s time to dive into the rares.

Assassin’s Trophy ($25): It’s a good card, a good answer, and I have to say I’m glad that Modern now has several strong reasons to include some basics: Path to Exile, Ghost Quarter, Field of Ruin, and now this. Yes, it’s good. It’s super-versatile. It’s good enough for Standard but the drawback is very real in that format.

I don’t think it’s got legs in Commander, either. For one more mana, you’ve got Maelstrom Pulse with zero drawbacks and the potential to kill a token horde.

Sorcery vs instant, yeah, but EDH has a lot of answers that don’t come with big drawbacks.

I do think $25 is about right for this for now, I find it unlikely that it’s going to be a more expensive card.

Beast Whisperer ($1 regular/$8 foil): I can easily see this being a $10 foil, but that margin is so close that I’m not moving in yet. I will tell you that when this drops (and it will) I’m going to be gauging this closely. We have several variations of this effect for Modern and for Commander, but none this cheap as a creature and definitely none as an Elf. It’ll be a bulk rare in nonfoil, so be patient.

Chromatic Lantern ($5/$10): In a couple of weeks, it’ll be even cheaper. Get what you need for Commander and maybe a couple extra. It’s not going to dip too much further–I’d imagine that $3 is about the floor on here. This is the third foil printing (counting the super-sweet Invention) and so I’m not going to be hellbent on the foils.

Citywide Bust ($1/$4): This is cheap enough that I’d like to get a few in anticipation of a good UW control deck showing up in the next two years, as that’s how long Guilds of Ravnica will be in Standard. We have Cleansing Nova for a while, but this strikes be as a fantastic answer to the Green Stompy decks that will be running around–and one that Boros decks will mostly avoid being hit by. The great part about when this is four for $1 is that when it bumps to $4 and buylists for $2, you’ll get a lovely chunk of store credit.

Ionize ($2.50/$9): One thing I’ve learned over the years: don’t count out the value of incremental, free effects. Vapor Snag was brutally efficient in its day. Somehow, this price is higher than I thought it would be, meaning that more people are buying it than anticipated. Is this the replacement for Disallow’s rotation? We’re getting counter/surveil 1 in its place, but getting that damage in is real.

Knight of Autumn ($6/$25): Abrade kept all sorts of artifact strategies in check the whole time, much like Dromoka’s Command did for a range of plans. The Knight will fill a similar role, being good enough to maindeck in Standard, and being exactly what’s needed at the time. I think this nonfoil price is spot on, but the foil needs to fall some before I’m in.

Mission Briefing ($8/$36): I think this card is totally a player in Standard, but it’s pretty lame in the other formats. Snapcaster Mage being able to attack or block makes it tremendously better. It’s the difference between Regrowth and Eternal Witness, or Naturalize/Reclamation Sage. Having a body attached to an effect is just really good. Plus, the Mage is easier to cast than the Briefing. This will see play, but not enough to warrant this price. It’s already fallen from the initial $15 it was offered at.

Omnispell Adept (75¢/$7): This might as well have “COMMANDER GOLD” tattooed on its head. Thank goodness this is five mana, but it’s one of those ‘kill it before it wins the game’ cards. I will be targeting these foils when they fall back to the $3-$5 range.

Risk Factor ($3/$7.50): Folks, this card is bad. It is a bad card. This should be the bulkiest of rares. I’ll link you what Bill Stark wrote about Browbeat and giving the opponent choices. I’ve played Browbeat in assorted burn decks and it seems like it should be good but it isn’t. It just isn’t. Don’t play this card, and don’t let your friends play it either. It’s worse than Browbeat, and that’s barely fifty cents for being a rare 12 years ago.

Ritual of Soot ($1.50/$6): This is a fantastic sideboard card in Standard, and will never make you any money. Stay away.

Swiftblade Vindicator ($2/$5): So many things are good with this card. Mentor, combat tricks, Aurelia, etc. Thankfully, it’s not good enough for Modern Humans, but it’s going to be a big game in Boros for the next two years. I think this is a buy right now if you’re going to play the deck, because it’s going to do well at first, climbing to maybe $5 before settling back down for about a buck. Helpfully, you’ll never play just one or two of these; it’s the full four or none at all.

Six years to go up $6? Nope, we can do better with our money.

The Shocklands ($6-$10, foils about 3x the prices): These aren’t going to very far up or down. There’s a whole lot of these out there, as the third printing of the big fall set PLUS the Expedition versions floating around. These are the go-to lands in Modern, a very reasonable alternative to triple-digit dual land prices in Commander, and the cycle is good enough even for powered Cubes. Not much else to say, but I’ll add that I would not attempt to stock up on these when we move on to the next set. We’ve got the double whammy of people who already have a bunch of them from other sets and the extra inventory that exists in stores. One color pair would have to be backbreakingly overpowered if all that inventory was to be drained and raise a shockland’s price.


Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP (next up: Oakland in January!) and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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