Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Commander Flashbacks

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One of the best investments I ever made, I made scared. I bought the original set of 5 Commander decks in 2011, without knowing a single card that was in them. Star City had a promotion where if you bought four of the decks, you got the fifth one free.

I’d only recently gotten into Commander, and it was exactly what I wanted when I got back into Magic: a way to use my old cards, and a reason to go spelunking through the boxes I still had.

The original cards, I’ve long since traded and/or sold off. We’ve gotten to the point that now we’ve had two Commander Anthology sets released, proving that Wizards knows full well what a gold mine they have on their hands.

Today, I want to look back at the earliest Commander sets, and see if there’s lessons to be learned. The cards that spiked, did they hold a price? What about the new decks and the allure of building something new?

Commander 2013

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True-Name Nemesis (max price $40 in early 2014, now $17, reprint is $11/$220 foil)

This is a card and a lesson all at once. Wizards figured that laking these cards only legal in Legacy was a safety valve, so even if they made a mistake, the most powerful format would likely be able to solve the issue.

The card had trickled downward slowly since release, stabilizing in the $30-$35 range, because while supply was small, so was demand. No one was playing four of this, and those who wanted it did finally get the few they wanted. Thankfully, no one besides Legacy players and Cubers wanted this card.

Reprinting it in Battlebond flooded the market. Between the two versions, there’s now 500 copies on TCG, roughly half and half. A lot of people must have had spare copies, and I can see that it’s a tempting spec, but that’s a rough hit. Foil prices from Battlebond are on the way down too. I knew a guy at GP Vegas willing to spend $250 on a foil, and now there’s 20 foils starting at $200. If I had one, would I be patient? Probably. I’d rather sell it for $175 now than wait two years to get $250.

Primal Vigor (was bulk, slowly grown to $20 after a few small bumps)

You get tokens! You get tokens! etc.

Fixing Doubling Season seems like a slam dunk. The card is very easy to abuse, and super fun to abuse at the same time. Commander players, we love doing something twice as much. This hasn’t been reprinted, and that makes it a terrible spec target. The price on this is mostly due to low supply, it’s only in 5k decks on EDHREC despite its age. We’ve got a lot of options for doubling counters and tokens, but this doesn’t work with planeswalkers or other permanents the way Season does.

Bane of Progress ($2 at its cheapest, now up to $4) I want, very badly, to pick up a million of these as a strong spec target. It just dodged another round of reprints, and while it was in Commander Anthology #1 it is in 10,000 decks on EDHREC. Sure, it’s going to kill your own stuff, but this card is awesome. There’s only 21 on TCG right now, and that’s really got me thinking. It would not be hard to imagine this as a $10 card.

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Problem is, it’s super-reprintable. Having a bunch of these will make me nervous, and in addition, we haven’t had a foil version yet. Wizards knows we like shiny things, and will eventually give us a shiny copy. Spec if you want to–I’m staying away but I understand the appeal.

Commander 2014

Containment Priest (was $30 at the start, down to $7, back up to $25, Invocation is $70)

This is why I’m scared of the Bane of Progress reprint. Containment Priest was being bought its first weekend by vendors for $50 on the floor of GP New Jersey in November of 2014, scarcely a week after it had been released. It’s a popular sideboard choice in Legacy, too, because it’s strong against some unfair decks (Show and Tell, Reanimator, etc.) and is immune to Spell Pierce. I really like picking these up now, as it’s seeing just enough play to make it worthwhile and got its foil relatively recently. Earlier this year, it sat at $35, but I think it’s still got room to grow, given the small supply and the demand.

Song of the Dryads ($2 for the longest, then spiked to $20, now $8)

I have to imagine it’s a lullaby, or maybe classical.

A one-of in Lands as a sideboard card, this is pretty amazing. It’s gotten one Anthology reprint, so be aware of that risk, but this is a card that you’re not playing enough in Commander. Players are going to adapt to you destroying their permanents. Instead, turn them off and keep them on the field, useless. It’s in 9,000 decks online and there’s less than 60 on TCG between the two versions. Ripe for the picking.

Ghoulcaller Gisa (started at $2, steady rise to $15)

Without a reprint, she’s just going to keep climbing. She’s a lot better than Stitcher Geralf, and their relative prices reflect that. Amazingly, she’s only in 700 decks online, which feels wrong. She’s not just a Zombie maker; anything with a sacrifice theme wants her too. If I knew she was safe from reprints for another couple years I’d be all-in, but a reprint will tank her hard and I doubt her price would recover.

 

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 and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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Myths of the Past

Vengevine hit $80 for a brief moment over the weekend, in the midst of hype.

I wish that sentence was a typo, but there it is.

It’s settled down in the $50-$60 range, but that’s a ton for a card that could have been bought for $20 two weeks ago.

I feel like there’s a few specific rules that should cover future specs of mine. I’m not going to go deep, but walk with me while we look at what makes this worth all the money, and see what cards also match the criteria.

#1: Supply is low due to age, not popularity.

Vengevine had more than jump to get to the $20 price it was at, sometimes appearing in Dredge lists. It was a WMCQ promo, but that number is probably pretty small. A mythic in a big set, one of the most fun draft environments ever, with a lot of other big-money mythics and rares.

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Just a happy list!

There’s a couple of clunkers at mythic in the set (Hellcarver Demon!) but it’s solid and it’s a blast to play. Removal was bad, creatures were huge, and incredibly, drafting Walls was a viable plan. Unsurprisingly, the packs and boxes are super expensive, so cracking those for value isn’t really a solid plan.

The point here is that the set is old and highly opened at the time, and Vengevine wasn’t in a lot of casual hands in the first place. We didn’t have all that many copies as a mythic from this era of Magic anyway.

#2: Multiple copies are good, so no legends.

This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a four-of in the most popular Modern deck right now, because she’s that good and costs that little and has that much impact. However, it’s pretty rare for a legendary creature to have a breakout weekend, and so I won’t be considering those in this trip through time.

#3: It does something uniquely powerful, or difficult to replicate.

Vengevine does something no other card in Magic does, even if you have to jump through hoops to do it. We have no shortage of cards that come back from the graveyard, but this pays you off right away. Bloodghast only has haste later and is easily blocked. Prized Amalgam comes in tapped. Narcomeba has to be milled, is small and slow to boot.

So what I’m looking for is older cards with a small supply, are non-legendary, and do something really well. Preferably, they are cheap in mana and not yet expensive to purchase. Let’s get to it!

Mindbreak Trap ($10 regular/$35 foil): I don’t think that someone would have four of these, but there are Goblins decks in Legacy playing three in the sideboard. It makes a lot of sense, but in that format, Force of Will is an easy answer in game 1, but in game 2, when the storm deck thinks it’s goldfishing? GOTCHA! Who expects counterspells from the little red guys? (Note: Warren Instigator is intriguing and fits all the rules, if you want to soak up the DD copies at $3.)

Hero of Oxid Ridge ($1/$3): We don’t have a red aggro deck per se in Modern right now, Burn mostly fills that up, but I’d forgotten how backbreaking this card is. Plus, it’s super-mega cheap at the moment. It’s a small-set mythic, you’d play four, price is low. A prime target to buy eight foils and put away patiently.

Mirror-Mad Phantasm (50¢/$1.50): I’m including this because it’s a way to mill your whole deck if you can get it into play. It’s cheap and unique and just because I don’t see how it gets broken isn’t the point–we’re speculating on cards that do stuff no other card does.

Misthollow Griffin ($1/$6): We’ve got a third creature now that can be cast from exile, and all of them are good specs in foil. There’s only 40 foils of Eternal Scourge on TCG right now, for that matter. This one is the oldest of the three, and the only mythic, and in my favorite bit of tech, you can exile this to pitch Force of Will and cast it when you’re ready. A solid spec in foil.

Epic Experiment (25¢/$2): I’m including this because it’s super-mega-cheap. I am in no way saying it’s good, but it fits all the criteria of some other card coming along and suddenly this is the most broken-ass card in existence.

Enter the Infinite ($2/$9): There was one brave player, Matteo Moure, who showed up at PT25 with an Omniscience/Show and Tell deck which included four Burning Wish and among the spicy targets in the sideboard was a super-tasty twelve-mana gem of a card. Not many play this in Commander, but being part of a fringe strategy can really pay off. This would be waiting for some spell or effect that enables foolishness, but that’s what these specs are. Imagine a four-drop that says “Exile a card from your hand: Cast another spell in your hand with the same name without paying its mana cost.” Will it happen? Possibly. That’s why these are pure speculation.

Aurelia’s Fury ($1/$4): They tried so hard to make this good in so many ways. You assign X as you want. Tap them if they didn’t die. Hit players, and then those players can’t cast noncreature spells this turn! This fits all the criteria I’d want for this sort of spec, though, so just because it’s not currently blowing things up, I’m not worrying about that. I’m just being patient until someone casts this on camera during someone’s upkeep to tap the team, and then attack for the win.

 

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 and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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Fate Finds A Way

The Pro Tour is literally this morning, and hopefully you get a chance to partake in some of the Team Trios Constructed coverage. Anything with teammates is my favorite format, adding other people to the mix is a grand time, even if your friend is an idiot who tells you that attacking every turn with Howling Golem is “You’re hitting them for two and you draw! They will never block it!” and you lose horribly because of all the extra cards they drew. (You’re still wrong, Robert!)

But I digress.

With all three formats in play, it’s close to impossible to guess what’s going to spike this weekend. We haven’t seen anything too new and amazing lately, with one exception that is on everyone’s radar…

Nexus of Fate was going for 60 tickets online this week, before the announcement that it was about to be much more commonly dropped in Treasure Chests.

The rise and fall, within a week like it’s a Shakespearean tragedy.

Normally, I don’t care much about MTGO, as I loathe the program, interface, and the system that charges me full price for cards I have to actively hunt for to own in person, but this wasn’t a huge surprise to me that Nexus had taken off.

Back in June, @CubeApril tweeted:

There were many warnings, but this was the funniest to me.

And she’s right. We didn’t worry much about Sunsong and Firespeaker, because that card was unusual, but not terribly good.

Nexus, though, if you can draw your whole deck, is a plan. Did it get countered? Shuffle it in anyway! Better have all your Syncopates aimed at this one card. There was no shortage of people worried about Wizards screwing this concept up when they announced this plan, and well, here we are. Sixty tickets online is an indicator of demand, as is $35 in person.

Worst of all, this is the price when supply is likely at its peak! If a store gets caught selling these as singles they will have real consequences as a WPN store, and if your store still has Nexus for the boxes that get bought, then if you’re spending $120, you get $30+ back from this one card, guaranteed.

Which is good, because the rest of the set is pretty rough. There’s only one rare currently at or above the price of a pack, and Death Baron can’t do it all himself. The mythics are better, especially with Sarkhan, Fireblood jumping up as people play lots of Dragons in Standard, but that’s still 1 in 8 packs, an average of four to six per box. Ouch.

The value just isn’t there for a box so far. I want the value to be there, frankly, because it makes for a healthy environment, but here’s the thing about Nexus of Fate: I don’t see an easy way to reprint it anytime soon. My best guess would be as a one-of in next spring’s Challenger Decks, along with a Teferi and a Karn (probably not the same deck though) and that’s quite a ways away.

I do think a reprint is inevitable. Probably. This is Wizards, who decided to invite Hearthstone streamers to open the oldest series of packs (up to eight basics in some packs!) yet NOT keep the cards opened, donating the cards to charity. Why not donate the value of the unopened packs? Why do this at 5:30 EST?

In related news, Wizards has a job opening.

James Chilcott is sorely tempted, I know…

There’s so many questions I have. Was this always a position? Did someone finally realize that this needed to be a position? Better yet, did someone have this gig for a while and they just decided to let this person go, after a string of terrible decisions and repetitive ideas? There’s a lot of juice to be squeezed out of this particular apple, and I’m a little bummed that I’ll never know these answers.

I want to tell you to buy Nexus at $30. I really do. There’s only 50 on TCGPlayer right now, only 20 of which are NM below $40. The casual market has soaked up a lot of these as well, and I think this might be a case where a jump to $50 on a card people just picked up will only make it harder to get out of their decks.

However, I don’t know what they are going to do to make it more common in paper. Print more and have them be added to the FNM rotation? A special holiday gift to all those who played in X number of events? Something’s going to happen, but there’s one potential miracle on the horizon for this card.  

While stores can’t sell their promos directly, what they are allowed to do is use leftover promos to ‘enhance in-store play‘ once the next set arrives. This means that any leftover Nexus of Fate cards are given away at the store’s discretion. Entry prizes, in-store raffles, you name it.

We don’t have a clear number on how many stores got how many cards, but the timeframe here will be in mid-to-late October. Will all the leftover copies get dumped? Are there any copies left to be dumped? There’s too many unknowns here, and I’ll summarize.

Buy your personal copy for Commander now, but don’t stockpile the card. Wizards knows they messed up, so they jacked the drop rate online. They will see what happens in October and then all bets are off.  

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 and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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Unrivaled Value

The full Commander lists should be coming out this morning, and while we’ve had a lot of cards move as a results of the cards we’ve been shown, I refuse to buy anything until I know the whole list. I’d feel like crap if I bought forty copies of Future Sight only to have it be in the deck. It’s a dangerous play, unless you stick to the Reserved List, and so I’m staying away.

If you have some of these things that have spiked, get rid of them. Magic players are pretty fickle, and you have to catch the wave while people are caught up in the hype.

Put another way: I hope you sell your Wall of Junk copies now, while people are buying them at $3 like total maniacs. Here’s the graph for another card that I called, that spiked, and settled down at a reasonable price: Power Conduit.

Could sell at $20, or at #10 a couple weeks later. Your call!

Yes, you have copies that sold at $20 on eBay during the peak. Buylist is now in the $6 range, and there’s LP foils on TCG for $8 at the moment. Sell when it’s hot! Don’t hesitate, don’t hold out!

Now the opposite is happening with Rivals of Ixalan. We’re roughly four months from when the set was being opened, and remember that this set was opened about half as much as Ixalan itself was. Supply is smaller, and Masters 25, forgettable as it was, did come out a month before RIX was done.

Smaller supply means there’s more potential for big hits, and today, I want to take a look at a few RIX cards.

The Transform Cards in foil: ($9 to $3)

I like all of these, because the risk of reprint is pretty low. Path of Mettle is by far the lamest, and if you want to stay away I totally understand. The other four are are defensible in most Commander decks of their colors, and they offer uniquely powerful effects. None of them are going to become staples the way Search for Azcanta has, but you’re getting in on the ground floor here.

Storm the Vault foils have crept up a little in recent days, and if the UR Artifacts decks really take off, this is a prime candidate to get broken. Tolarian Academy is super-mega-banned in Commander, so this is all we’ve got.

I’m pretty surprised that assorted Esper decks haven’t been using Profane Procession, but considering that UW can win by tucking their own Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and decking the other player…that’s sort of the dream in a UW deck. Why waste slots on win conditions?

Timestream Navigator ($2 regular/$8 foil): There’s something about a $2 mythic that just calls to me. It’s just good enough to not be a bulk mythic, but not good enough to be even the price of a pack. Yes, this is highly conditional for taking another turn and not something Standard wants to fool around with, but your entry point is so low that this needs to be thought about.

At the very least, you’re picking up something that will eventually get taken out of your binder, when you meet that person who’s putting all the Time Warp effects in their deck. There’s more of them than you think.

Seafloor Oracle ($1.50 foil): Holy hell, I didn’t know this had sunk so far! I don’t think it’ll ever see Modern play, tempting as it is, but I think this is one of the first additions you cram into any Merfolk tribal deck, and we’re about to get a new Bant merfolk legend! Yes, her focus is enchantments, but let’s not overlook what you’re getting in this legend: all the awesomeness of the Lorwyn set, plus the extra abilities of the new green ones, and the plethora of lords that the set has had anyway.

If you want to place a few orders on foil Merfolk, that seems like a good idea. Here’s the early contenders, courtesy of EDHREC:

They seem unassuming don’t they? Don’t be fooled!

Also, if it doesn’t spike by the time we record the next MTG Fast Finance, I’ll be telling you all to buy foil copies of Thada Adel, Acquisitor:

This is the foil graph, just a steady upward trend!

In case it’s not clear, I like the Merfolk deck to be the next round of spikes.

Tendershoot Dryad ($5/$9): The ratio is out of whack on this one. For a $5 card, I’d expect the foils to be around $15. With a foil price this low, I’d think that the card was seeing a lot of Standard play (See History of Benalia for another example.) but that’s not the case here. 

I suspect that a lot of copies of this card have been soaked up by the casual market. It’s only listed in 700 decks on EDHREC, but I think there’s a lot of players who are stuffing four copies into some 63-card deck that doesn’t stop at only 20 tokens.

At any rate, there’s higher demand for this than can be accounted for, and especially I like the foils for long-term growth. If the nonfoils can hold $5, this should be a more expensive card. If nothing else, pick up your foils now while they are still cheap.

 

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 and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over and say hi, and be ready to draft.

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