Category Archives: Rachel Agnes

Eye Candy from Grand Prix Vegas (Part 1)

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Whewwww! Grand Prix Las Vegas is in the books and it was quite the experience. Having attending multiple two-day Grand Prix, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as this massive five-day event was concerned other than “Yeah, this event is just going to be longer, right?” Well it sure was longer and larger than I could have imagined and I knew I had to document some of my favorite sights and scenes from the Grand Prix!

The WotC coverage team did a great job as always taking photos encompassing the venue, the attractions, and players of the event. I figured I would do something a bit different and would go hunting around for awesome photo opportunities and capture some less photographed rarities and special cards. Everyone would see pictures of cosplayers and artists’ alley, but would you get to see a full set of Summer dual lands? Original Magic artwork? Graded cards galore? Come take a look at the amazing items I found at the Grand Prix! (Sadly, no, I did not purchase any of these items)

Hopefully you got to attend the Grand Prix. If not, I hope these photos help you live vicariously through me to see some of the awesome eye candy from this historic MTG event.

Okay, I absolutely LOVE the way the Masterpiece Series looks in dealer cases. They are real eye catchers and so shiny that they get this girl to waltz right on over. Some pretty solid prices here to boot. Oh yeah, check out those ten Black Lotus on the right side there. No big deal right? There were certainly several hundred Black Lotus in the room this weekend which is mind-blowing to think about!

Speaking of power, here are some Power 9 cards that have various alters on them. Although admittedly, the thought of applying a paintbrush to a Black Lotus makes me shudder, I do understand that sometimes these can be restoration projects as well.

I am not too big a fan of the basic land alters such as the Mox Jet with the Urza’s Swamp background or the Mox Sapphire with the Zendikar Island background, but they are an interesting and unique take for sure. As for the prices, I honestly have no idea if they are a bargain or not. I certainly wouldn’t purchase them but that doesn’t meant they wouldn’t make great additions for some folks.

Similarly, the Power 9 with the updated artwork from the Magic Online Vintage Cube versions, while well-done, doesn’t do it for me. OG artwork all the way, but it is an interesting way to have your pieces stand out.

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Magic calculators!! Well, sorta. Sadly, most have moved towards pen and paper to keep track of life totals, but real men and women use an abacus! These relics of days gone by were released by Duelist Magazine all the way back in 1995 and are still quite rare to this day. Obviously, the blue one is the most expensive of the lot, but $50 for a green one isn’t too shabby. If only this was the go-to method for keeping track of life totals we would see these be astronomically more expensive. However, if you and your opponent get into a life total dispute, if they have pen and paper and you an abacus, I don’t need to tell you who the judge will side with. SAD.

Be still my beating heart! What unholy disaster has taken place here? And before you ask, NO, these are not those new white border plastic inserts. Someone actually took an eraser to those borders and committed a cardinal sin. Jokes aside these look surprisingly cool and certainly are quite eye-catching. Don’t let the new white border inner sleeves trick people into thinking you aren’t deranged. There is plenty of crazy out there for us all!

SAND!!

But for real, these sculptures were really awesome! Someone was building each day of the event and they were hard at work toiling away like a citizen of Naktamun! Perfectly flavorful and super interesting addition to the Grand Prix.

This lucky fellow won an uncut rare/mythic sheet of Amonkhet. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I got it. Would I frame it or just resell it? I’ll get back to you on that when I win an uncut sheet tournament!

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I met some awesome people from Spain this weekend who played in the main events. One of them had some sweeeet Japanese foils to show off. A full playset of Japanese foil Mishra’s Baubles is something I’ve never seen before and must be worth a pretty penny (especially since the set wasn’t printed in Russian).

And don’t even get me started on those Thoughtseizes. Good gracious! I would love to pimp my ride one day with those beauties. What I love about images like this is that is shows the heart and soul someone pours into their deck to pick up rare cards and customize things the way they love.

The Original Magic Art, OMA, booth was bustling this weekend as well. So many amazing choices when it comes to tokens for your deck. So what’s interesting about them? They feature historic real-world art from around the world and through the centuries. What could be better than using The Great Wave of Kanagawa as a Master of Waves Elemental Token?

Alright, well here are some most Masterpieces! Quick trivia, without scrolling up to the top of the page which booth had better deals? Look at the Mind’s Eye and Mind Twist. Which booth was better? The previous picture showed Mind’s Eye at $16 and Mind Twist at $25 while here you would be paying $28 and $33 respectively. That’s a 67% increase, or a free $20 bill to spend elsewhere. Tsk tsk. It always pays to shop around at Grand Prix and for many floor traders and dealer flippers it works out like an hourly wage. For those who just want to pick up a sweet card for their decks or cube, it will still always behoove you to shop around.

Unf, I want theseeee. Look at those delicious black borders. There is nothing better than playing with cards from Alpha and Beta, and while I don’t always gravitate towards signatures, I would happily sleeve some of these bad boys up. Notice the lack of prices? If you have to ask, you can’t afford them 😉

At what would a wonderful and hectic Grand Prix day be without concluding with dinner? This was an amazing Wagyu Beef that was out of this world. The food in Las Vegas is world-class and this dinner was one for the ages. A big thank you to VintageMagic.com.

There you have it, some great finds and hidden gems from the monumental Grand Prix Vegas. I hope you enjoyed checking it out and will enjoy part 2 as well. What were your favorite things from the Grand Prix? I would love to know in the comments!

Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast.
Catch on Twitch and Twitter via Baetog_.

 

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Drawing Inspiration from Alters

What is the most rewarding part of playing Magic the Gathering for you? For some it is the gameplay and for others competition. For many it is just something to play casually with friends. For others, their favorite aspect of paying Magic the Gathering is customizing their cards. Finding unique and fun ways for everyone to enjoy Magic is something the game itself strives to do. Creating a welcoming environment where players are free to express themselves explains the need for so many different formats and variations of cards. Having your card stand out from the pack is something many players desire when playing Magic.

Some players find foils a great way to do this, and will go out of their way to find premium versions to spice up their decks. For some people, misprints are their preferred method of standing out. Misprints occur where something happened in the actual physical manufacturing of the card itself causing an abnormality to occur. For others, alters are the way they choose to cultivate their creativity. Today, I will be discussing some of my favorite MTG alterists at the moment and some of their alters that have really caught my eye.

It may come as a surprise to some, but there is actually a massive online card altering market. Ebay, Etsy, and Facebook have provided successful social media outlets to display your artwork and players have been devouring it. The desire to have your cards customized by not just top notch alterists but even small, lesser known alterists, is ever-growing. I do not purchase many alters myself because all my allotted MTG money is spent on foils and artwork, but I do absolutely have some favorites.

5. Eric Klug

https://www.facebook.com/klugalters/

Eric has been in the altering business for almost a decade and he is at the top of his class when it comes to producing high quality alters. I figure most people reading this have heard of him before and even purchased an alter from him. Here are a few of my favorites of his.

I love Klug’s alter on the most powerful spell ever printed, Black Lotus. His ability to replicate Terese Nielsen’s gorgeous Guru land style is superb. This full-art alter that covers the entirety of the border, yet somehow doesn’t take away from the allure of the lotus itself.

This MC Escher inspired Maze of Ith is one of Klug’s most famous alters. The line-work is amazing and I can’t even imagine how beautiful it looks on the battlefield.

This is one of Klug’s most recent masterpieces. I absolutely love Damnation and Gustave Dore so this alter hits me in all the right ways.

4. Brossard Alters

https://www.facebook.com/brossardalters/photos/?tab=album&album_id=432419673635182

I absolutely love this alterist’s way of blending real world items into their pieces.

I absolutely LOVE alters that take a spin on what the card does.  Casting Maelstrom Wanderer in Commander is always a spin of the wheel and the images on the roulette wheel certainly represent some sweet hits. Can you name them all?

Ok, admit it. We ALL thought that that promo Snapcaster Mage looked like a soccer player. This is a brilliant execution of that concept and I love how the lines on the field and the number 25 on the shirt look like the foiling process itself.

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You know an alter is top notch when you confuse it with a photograph. I cannot get over how realistic the casino chips look on this Mox Emerald. Masterful shadowing and scale.

3. Blacklion Alters

https://www.facebook.com/pg/blacklionalters/photos/?ref=page_internal

This alterist makes the list for their masterful border extensions and full-art re imaginings. I absolutely love these Unglued basics because the colors really pop and you can’t tell where the original artist’s work ends and where the alter begins.

Ooo I love me some cherry blossoms and I absolutely love how this alter uses the Japanese influence to compliment the top. It doesn’t overdo it, which is an important thing to consider.

Ok someone is gonna have a sickkk looking Modern deck here. Hard to pick which my favorite here is because of how the picture is taken, but I love how they all work together. The colors are great and the cards are easily recognizable.

2. Sandreline Mousse

https://www.facebook.com/sandreline.altered/photos_albums

Sandreline has many different styles and each of them is masterfully done. I can never tell right off the bat when a piece is done by her but if it catches my eye and is beautifully done, I am never surprised it was painted by her.

Those lions look super realistic and majestic. It’s easy to forget that these are on Magic cards, they are so well done. I absolutely love the black and white aspect here too.

These art nouveau inspired duals and very popular alters by both Sandreline and Eric Klug. I think they are unique and interesting, even if I do prefer clean Fbb’s myself.

Stained glass Lightning Bolt?! Be still my fiery heart! I absolutely love all her stained glass alters but this one takes the cake for me. Talk about a sweet idea for a future Masterpiece series.

  1. MIB Alters

https://www.facebook.com/pg/MIB-MTG-Alter-1431618703795097/photos/?ref=page_internal

I’m not gonna lie, I absolutely had MIB alters as my number 1 pick for favorite MTG alterist by a landslide. I absolutely adore their style to no end and cannot get enough of seeing each of these amazing alters. I would KILL to own one someday.

I absolutely love this art style and it is so unique to MIB alters. I can instantly tell who illustrated it and its uniqueness even among alters really strikes me. I love this Daretti because of his facial expression. I just screams curious mischief to me.

The colors here are absolutely breathtaking and the facial expression is both natural and cartoony at the same time. I don’t know how that’s even possible.

All hail Phyrexia! Praise to Atraxa our overlord and long may her reign be! Okay, this artwork captures an adorable Atraxa, which isn’t easy to do while still keeping some of her menacing features. An absolute home run, and alters like this are what keep me coming back to MIB for inspiration.

I hope you enjoyed checking out some sweet alters with me. There are so many amazing alterists and alters that I didn’t get to mention here. I truly respect all forms of this art and do recommend purchasing at least one alter in your life, even if you just use the card casually. Who are your favorite alterists? Do you have a favorite alter that you own? Let me know in the comments and thank you for reading!

Alter by BlackWingStudio

Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast.
Catch on Twitch and Twitter via Baetog_.

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Dripping with Icony

Soooo… Iconic Masters! I am sure many of you have heard about this recent announcement that has been blowing up the MTG social media sphere. We know very little about the set so far other than the details are going to be relatively secretive. With the prominence of the Internet, spoilers run rampant and everyone knows the set’s contents a week or two in advance. Wizards has stated that there will be no spoiler season for this set and that the goods will be revealed the day of release when players first open the packs. They stated their desire to emulate the old feeling of cracking your first packs from a new set.

Additionally, there is one other BIG thing we know about this November 2017 Iconic Masters set (IMA) so far… There will be ZERO Reserved List cards printed in it.

When players hear the word “Iconic” in regards to Magic the Gathering many things come to mind. Lightning Bolt, Swords to Plowshare, Shivan Dragon, Serra Angel, Force of Will, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Tarmogoyf, Wasteland, and even Storm Crow. Those seem like viable options for reprints right? Well what about cards like Black Lotus, Juzam Djinn, Wheel of Fortune, Time Walk, Ancestral Recall, Time Vault, Library of Alexandria, Mishra’s Workshop, Tolarain Academy, and Bazaar of Baghdad? Surely those cards also evoke a feeling of or nostalgic and reverence. They are also absolutely iconic. I know they do for me and I’ve only been playing since Innistrad!

Since their initial announcement, Wizards has publicly stated that they will not be printing any Reserved List cards in the set and that there are plenty of iconic cards besides them to be included. I could go on for hours about the Reserved List, its merits and its downsides, but that is for another article.

For this article today I would like to discuss my top 10 wishlist for Iconic Masters. This isn’t a list of cards I think will be in the set, just cards that I would love to see. To preface this list, I would like to mention I would be over the moon if they brought back the old border for all the cards in the set. I know it is probably asking for the impossible but, it is technically allowable. Since it would look horribly mismatched if they did half and half, I would suggest that the whole set be printed in old, pre-8th Edition border, but that is surely a pipe dream. A girl can dream right? Let’s dig in!

10. Shivan Dragon

I would LOVE to see Shivan Dragon in this set. There is no argument against the original Melissa Benson artwork as  it is a memorable callback to days long gone. Wizards may have stated that there would be many new card artworks in the set, but you can’t beat this classic.

IMA booster packs will have an MSRP of $9.99 per pack. NOBODY wants to open a Shivan Dragon from a pack that cost them $10, so the solution? Make it an uncommon! We have already seen cards like Volcanic Dragon and Pardic Dragon at uncommon in other sets, so Shivan Dragon should be no different. Many players once coveted the mighty Shivan Dragon and seeing them at uncommon would be win-win for everyone.

9. Grim Tutor

Grim Tutor is a very expensive piece of cardboard. Rolling in at over $200 each, Grim Tutor is in desperate need of a reprint. Tutors are an iconic part of Magic’s history. Grim Tutor has always been eclipsed by its peers, most of which are more powerful.

That being said, most of the other tutors have seen several reprints. This would be a great opportunity to finally reprint Grim Tutor with new artwork to boot. Maybe keep that amazing flavor text, though.

8. Necropotence

Combo decks have had a huge impact on Magic’s history. Some of these decks were so powerful that they even instilled fear in the hearts of opponents. Necropotence, while not being the first combo card of all time, surely does a great job displaying the more broken aspects of Magic. I understand the need for this to be printed at rare/mythic, but I am hoping for the former. When Necropotence was a mythic in Eternal Masters it was a complete dud to open. It would hit the sweet spot at rare, even with the $10 MSRP.

The Mark Tedin artwork is a must and I would absolutely cry if I saw the FTV/Eternal Masters artwork again in IMA. To make this card even more viable for Limited I would also include Dark Ritual as a common/uncommon. Without the Storm mechanic, I think it would be safe to have a turn 1 Necropotence here and there in Limited. That’s never something I thought I would write, but here we are folks. There was a time where that was absolutely iconic and everyone should be able to try it at least once… or ten times.

7. Ancestral Vision

Ancestral Recall is one of the most iconic spells of all time. No ifs, ands or buts about it.  Being a piece of the prestigious Power 9 and arguably the most powerful spell ever certainly makes its mark. But that card cannot be reprinted. SO, how about a card that calls back upon this powerful spell and is in desperate need of a reprint?

Ancestral Vision is illustrated by the talented Mark Poole, the same artist as Ancestral Recall itself. The card was created in Time Spiral as a throwback to the early Magic draw spell and has since been adopted in Modern. Despite being printed three total times, this card still commands a ~$50 price tag. Not to mention, the foil version hovers around $200. Combine these factors and you have the perfect candidate for a reprint. This spell and would be a great addition to IMA’s value.

6. Crucible of Worlds

Crucible of Worlds was actually part of program WotC had called “You Make the Card.” This was where, through a series of public polls, Wizards actually built a card from scratch and used various player-submitted cards as inspiration. They have made several cards this way, but Crucible of Worlds is by far the most iconic and powerful.

Crucible of Worlds may not be an all-star in Limited, but it certainly sees play across every format it is legal in. Despite its various printings you are paying close to $60 for the cheapest copies. Combined with the fact that this card has absolutely stunning artwork by Ron Spencer makes it a welcome addition for value as well as its iconic place in Commander and Vintage.

5. Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Okay Jace the freakin Mind Sculptor is absolutely iconic. In the modern era of MTG, Planeswalkers are by far the most iconic cards. Jace the Mind Sculptor sticks out as a giant among Planeswalkers. This Jace is, without a doubt, the most powerful Planeswalker printed to date, and despite it having 3 printings, still pushes ~$60.

Jace deserves a place in IMA because it is recognizable to all and his power is ubiquitous with the color blue itself. I feel this card is extremely likely to be included in this set, and because of this, any small hope I may have held for an all-old bordered set is shattered. Old frame planeswalkers just isn’t going to happen. And for that I will remain forever sad.

4. Lightning Bolt

Christopher Rush, old border, no flavor text. Done. Article is over thanks for reading!

Okay just kidding. Black Lotus may wear the crown for the most iconic card in all of Magic the Gathering, but Lightning Bolt is certainly top 5. Seeing a brand new black bordered version of the Christopher Rush classic artwork Lightning Bolt coming out of a booster pack would overwhelm so many players, old and new, with incredible emotion.

I know Lightning Bolt isn’t the most expensive card and it would only be a common or uncommon at best. But, a sub ~$200 version of Christopher’s artwork in foil would be amazing for us all. Formats with Lightning Bolt are a blast to play and this spell is always deserving of a place in masters sets. I do uphold the condition that if IMA does not contain the Christopher Rush artwork for Lightning Bolt, I would absolutely remove this card from my list and replace it with something like Birds of Paradise.

3. Lord of Atlantis

Let’s face it, Merfolk are awesome. You either love them or you’re wrong. Merfolk are such a classic tribe in Magic and one of the few that see play in competitive formats almost 25 years later. When Lord of Atlantis was printed in Alpha, Merfolk of the Pearl Trident was the only creature in the game that it could actually pump. Did that stop people from running the little blue men in their deck? Nope.

Lord of Atlantis has a storied history throughout Magic and saw play in every constructed format there is. Because of their popularity, many creature of this tribe are actually quite costly. Cursecatcher, Silvergill Adept, and Merrow Reejery all contribute to the inflated price tag of this tribal deck. When they made the Modern pre-constructed decks, I believed that Merfolk would eventually be one of the products. But the plug was promptly pulled on that product forcing us to look elsewhere for needed reprints. This would be a great time to reprint not just Lord of Atlantis (please Melissa Benson art) but quite a few fishy friends for an amazing limited archetype. Move over Master of the Pearl Trident, bring us back the classic.

2. Rishadan Port

Perhaps the most requested reprint we didn’t get from Eternal Masters was Rishadan Port. Sporting play as a 4-of in both Legacy Lands and Death and Taxes, the Port commands a price tag over $100. When it comes to this iconic land, it isn’t a matter of if, but when it will be reprinted. I figured Wizards would wait for Eternal Masters 2 to reprint this iconic land as a flagship addition to the set, along with the classics like Force of Will and Mana Crypt. But now, Iconic Masters would be an even better spot for the much desired reprint.

Rishadan Port has one of the most amazing artworks in the game and the original painting recently changed hands for around a whopping $80,000!! So yeah, I would absolutely call this card as iconic as it gets. Since they commissioned a new artwork for the Judge Promo Port relatively recently, I would not be surprised if they went with that artwork. But hey, this is about my hopes and dreams here. Just spoil me please!

  1. Storm Crow

The moment you have all been waiting for. The card the masses have clamored for and reason for the season. Wizards has heard your cries of desperation and your songs of hope.

**Ahem** Moving on.

1. Demonic Tutor

And the winner is… Demonic Tutor! THE card I would most love to see reprinted in IMA, Demonic Tutor, is an Alpha classic. At one point it even graced the Reserved List. Most people who have ever picked up the game of Magic have seen or played with a Demonic Tutor. The original artwork, while iconic, would probably have issues being released in a 2017 world. This would be the perfect time for an amazing new artwork commission!

Demonic Tutor is the most powerful and most played tutor in all of Magic the Gathering. The effect is coveted and the power level is undeniable. This would make a perfect upshift to rare in Iconic Masters. It sees play in almost half of all black EDH decks posted online and obviously that number should easily be 100%. Never a bad draw, Demonic Tutor comes in clutch at all points of the game and the power of the deck itself is the only limit for the card. Because of this, even ugly white bordered versions of this spell command around $20 and the Divine vs. Demonic version is pushing above $30. With the only foil of this card soaring above $225 a pop this would absolutely be an excellent time to reprint this perfect little piece of MTG history.

That wraps up my thoughts on Magic’s November 2017 set Iconic Masters. This set will blow minds, I can guarantee that. You can’t just call a set iconic and have it disappoint. Magic has 25 years of rich history and amazing cards, so you can bet that there will be a little something for everyone here. What cards do you want to see reprinted? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! I do read them all. Thanks so much!


Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast.
Catch on Twitch and Twitter via Baetog_.

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Do Judge Me

By: Rachel Agnes
@baetog_

Hello everyone! I am back to talk about some juicy foils today! I am going to discuss a series of foils that have been produced for almost 20 years now. I am speaking of none other than the judge foils. As of April 2017, there are currently 109 different judge foil cards produced for Magic back from 1998. The popularity of the judge program foils has only grown over the years and you can expect this type of promotional foil to be around for many years to come.

So what are these foils? Judge foils are exclusive promo foil reprints of cards from Magic: the Gathering history that Wizards has deemed worthy of reprint or upgrade. Many have the judge logo printed at the bottom of the card (akin to the FNM promo logo).  A decade ago, the cards were selected based on popularity and rarity. Now, they are leaning more towards powerful, expensive EDH reprints as well as much needed Portal: Three Kingdoms overpriced cards. A mixture of rarity and desirability tend to be the deciding factor on which cards become Judge Foils. They are often legal or viable in various formats but not necessarily universally playable. There have been several methods of distributing these foils over the years from attending conferences to the more current Exemplar program. I will not delve into the method of distribution. Rather, I will be reviewing my top 10 favorite fudge promos and giving details on price and where to use them.

  1. Balance
    Price: $21.00
    Released in 2004 as a Judge Rewards Mailed Gift

Balance is one hell of a Magic card. Since the days of 1993, this card has been touted as white’s most powerful spell. Only being legal as a 1-of in Vintage, Balance joins the ranks of only several cards that are too powerful for Legacy AND Commander. Balance’s name may be a misnomer regarding its functionality, but the amazing artwork here by Kev Walker shows a powerful scene. This is one of the cards that truly evokes the feel of a “Judge” foil to me because when I look at it I am reminded of the crucial role that judges play in balancing our game. Without judges, there would be no Magic events and this amazing artwork as well as the subtle foiling and colors leads to the stern, but fair feel you can get from officials.

I use Balance in my Cube and it performs as one of the most overpowered White spells. Aside from Cube, some players play it in control decks in Vintage. Not being legal in other formats makes this card relatively cheap for a somewhat rare promo, but if it was legal in say, EDH, I would wager this to be the best version to use. Of course Alpha/Beta versions are pricier and the artwork is more nostalgic and iconic, but this version is the only viable foil version. We won’t talk about the FTV abomination.

  1. Sol Ring
    Price: $146
    Released in 2005 as a Judge Rewards Card given at Pro Tour London

You can’t play much Magic without hearing about Sol Ring. From the most cutthroat and powerful formats like Vintage to the more casual but vast format of Commander, Sol Ring has touched more players than most cards on this list. Sol Ring sees play in my Cube as one of the best cards and top picks, which is quite a title. Many Vintage decks also include it as an additional way to boost mana. This is also the MOST played Commander card by far showing up in over 60% of ALL EDH decks.

Sol Ring is a frequently sought after foil, and since the judge foil printing there have been 2 other foil versions. The judge foil Sol Ring uses the incredible Mark Tedin artwork from Alpha and it doesn’t get much better than that. The FTV foil displays the newer Commander artwork, and while nice, it doesn’t do justice to the original. There is also the Masterpieces version of Sol Ring done by the talented Volkan Baga. His artwork is stunning and the attention to detail he learned from his master Donato Gaincola is wonderfully displayed on the Masterpieces version. Currently, I replaced the Judge Sol Ring in my cube for the Masterpieces but it is still super close. The powerful alternative to this judge foil is why this card only Rings in at number nine.

  1. Survival of the Fittest
    Price: $258
    Released in 2009 as a Judge Rewards Card

Survival of the Fittest is one of many judge foils on the Reserved List. In fact, an older stipulation of the Reserved List allowed for foil promotional versions of its cards to be printed as long as they were not mass produced. This seemed to go by fine with players and collectors alike until the mass production of the From the Vaults: Exiled (and the printing of other reserved list cards en mass) caused one final revision to the list to not allow reprints of any kind. Luckily for us, some cards previously unavailable in foil were made as judge foils, and sadly, these will be the last.

Survival of the Fittest is one of green’s most powerful spells ever printed. Released in Exodus, there were no official pack foils of this card available yet. Its status on the Reserved List indicates that the two options we currently have for this card are the only two we will ever get. While I do enjoy the artwork on the original Pete Venters version, the artwork on this foil is absolutely beautiful as well. There is a test print foil version with the original Exodus artwork but that is not reasonable to acquire for most.

Survival of the Fittest sees play in my Cube where its ability to tutor for utility creatures and combo with reanimation spells is paramount. This card also sees heavy play in Commander where it serves a similar function. As Survival is banned in Legacy and not powerful enough for Vintage, you will be restricted to these two formats for the most part to use this card. I love this judge foil but it’s inferior artwork is what prevents it from climbing the list higher than number eight.

  1. Mana Drain
    Price: $161
    Released in 2016 as a Judge Rewards Card

Mana Drain is one of the strongest blue spells ever printed. It was an uncommon in Legends so it is safe from the clutches of the Reserved List. The biggest story of this particular promo is its price. When it was first spoiled it was also released to a select few individuals. The first copies of these Mana Drains sold for over $1000 each which was absolutely crazy for a judge foil. In early 2016 these were still selling for around $800 at the few dealers who had them. Upon its official release copies of Mana Drain started off at $350-400 before falling to $250. Now, Mana Drain judge foil currently sit around $150-175 where I believe they will remain for the coming years. It is still prone to additional reprints.

The Mana Drain judge foil comes with amazing artwork shown off originally in the Magic Online Holiday Cube. The original Legends artwork from Mark Tedin is a classic, however it sports no foil version. The colors on this foil are amazing and I recommend if you have to stick to one color for Judge Promos, go with the blue ones.

Mana Drain is the best counterspell in Commander by far. Although, like the previous cards on this list, it is banned in Legacy, Mana Drain is also played in Vintage. I currently have a judge foil Mana Drain in my Cube and I don’t suspect it will ever be removed.

  1. Noble Hierarch
    Price: $129
    Released in 2012 as a Judge Reward Card

Noble Hierarch is one of six judge foil released in the older frame. All six cards previously only came with the new border introduced in Eigth Edition, and because they have the same artwork as their original printings, Wizards wanted a way for them to stand out. Of these old framed foils, Noble Hierarch is my favorite. The foiling process is a flawless replication of old green foils and the colors are perfect.

Noble Heirarch sees play as 4-of copies in Modern, Legacy, and even occasionally Vintage. It is nothing short of a staple and most likely the best mana dork ever printed (usurping the title from Birds of Paradise). Only Deathrite Shaman could give Noble a run for it’s money, but it is certainly close. Noble Hierarch is a cube staple as well and fits into any EDH deck that can slot Bant cards in.

There are currently no other options artwork-wise for Noble Hierach, but I am not complaining. This piece by Mark Zug is nothing short of a masterpiece and I am a sucker for the old borders. This certainly gives the edge to the judge foil over its Conflux and Modern Masters 2015 printings.

  1. Fetchlands  
    Polluted Delta Price: $115
    Flooded Strand Price: $113
    Bloodstained Mire Price: $114
    Wooded Foothills Price: $98
    Windswept Heath Price: $93
    Released in 2009 as Judge Rewards Cards

Fetchlands are absolutely the best mana fixing cycle in all of Magic. Original dual lands be damned, fetchlands have changed the landscape of the game forever. There is no format that exists where fetchlands aren’t the most used mana fixing and because of this, they have been printed numerous times.

Unfortunately, for those of us who enjoy uniformity, there are only five judge foil fetchlands. They were printed for the allied color combinations right around the same time the enemy colored fetches from Zendikar were being released. Sporting the original artwork from Onslaught, these lands look amazing on the battlefield and the image itself glows extremely bright on the Delta and Strand.

Because of the Expeditions series released in Battle for Zendikar, there are now alternatives to these judge foils. Additionally, the original frame from Onslaught (the last block with this frame) is simply amazing and blows even this judge foil out of the water. These fetchlands, while outclassed, just look incredible when played and I hold them in high regards with a number five spot.

  1. Lightning Bolt
    Price: $230
    Released in 1998 as a Judge Rewards Card

And here we have Lightning Bolt. If you asked a person who hasn’t played Magic in 20 years what Lightning Bolt does they would still remember. Lightning Bolt just simply is Magic. This is the most powerful Red spell ever printed and a staple removal spell in every format it is legal in. Needless to say, every Magic player will need to own a playset of this amazing common.

Lightning Bolt currently has over a dozen printings, so choosing the version for you can be tricky. Artwork-wise there are three different ways to foil your bolt. Christopher Moeller’s Core Set Bolt is a great piece, but the price is minuscule and it has been reprinted into oblivion. There is also the digitally illustrated Player Rewards Promo which is more affordable than the judge foil and extremely detailed. However, Christopher Rush’s artwork is iconic and combined with that juicy old 90’s frame THIS is how you deal 3 damage in style.

Bolt also gets bonus points for being the very first judge foil ever released all the way back in 1998. Number four is a prized spot on a list of such powerhouses but it might come as a surprise that Lightning Bolt isn’t even the highest ranked common on this list…

  1. Basics
    Plains Price: $61,
    Island Price: $145,
    Swamp Price: $62,
    Mountain Price:  $50,
    Forest Price: $90
    Released in 2014 as Special Judge Rewards Cards

As far as foils go, these are the most expensive basic lands in the game. Illustrated by the extremely talented and oft-considered best artist in Magic, Terese Nielsen, these judge foil basic lands combine to create a beautiful panorama artwork. Needless to say, they look amazing side by side. The rarity of these basics in large numbers, along with the demand for basics (hey we all need them) make acquiring these basic lands a journey in and of itself.

Naturally, there are endless options when it comes to basic lands (an article for another time) and these are quite pricey. The foiling process on these is pristine and the nature of them being full-art also adds to their appeal. Wizards will have a very hard time ever topping these if they ever return to make more Judge Basics.

I absolutely LOVE Judge Basic lands and am always looking to acquire more. Basic lands tell us a lot about a player and these basic lands certainly indicate opulence and good taste. Number three is a great place for these beauties.

  1. Gaea’s Cradle
    Price: $569
    Released in 1998 as a Judge Rewards Card

Here is it. The holy Grail of judge foils. Gaea’s Cradle commands the highest price tag of any judge foil and for good reason. Gaea’s Cradle is on the reserved list, so you can bet this is the only way you will ever be able to acquire a foil one. The artwork by Mark Zug would be impossible to best anyways as I consider it a top 25 MTG artwork of all time.

Gaea’s Cradle sees play in Legacy in Elves and is arguably the best land in Commander. I currently own one of these gorgeous Cradles in my Cube where it will live the rest of its long life. You are looking at spending close to $600 for one of these prestigious foils and I don’t expect that price to go down ever. This judge foil was released almost 20 years ago as one of the first of its kind and Urza’s Saga was the last expansion that didn’t include set foils. Wizards luckily managed to find a way to sneak Gaea’s Cradle in as a foil and we are all luckier for it. This beauty is worthy of its number 2 spot.

  1. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
    Price: $515
    Released in 2014 as a Judge Rewards Card

It may seem impossible to beat out Gaea’s Cradle but here we are. When making this list I could think of no other card for the number one slot. The judge foil Elesh Norn is truly a work of art from the amazing artwork by Igor Kieryluk to the Phyrexian text on the card. This process is unique solely to this Elesh Norn, and with its popularity, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this again in the future.

This Judge Promo is hard to find and super desired by casual players and avid collectors alike. For this reason it demands the second highest price tag of all judge foils, only behind Gaea’s Cradle. You will be paying around $500 a pop of these so it’s a good thing most players will only need one copy. Elesh Norn is used in Legacy Reanimator and Dredge decks as well as Modern Gifts and EDH decks aplenty. If I could own NO other judge foil ever, this is the one I would choose as there is simply no alternative to me. This Phyrexian Princess currently resides in my Cube, and despite having real Power Nine cards present in the Cube alongside it, I always have a hard time not just sleeving this up in a binder and never taking it out. Elesh Norn blows away the competition and I hope we see more Phyrexian cards in the future!

I hope you enjoyed my Top 10 judge foil rankings. I am eager to hear which foils are your favorites and which ones you think should have made my list. Thanks for reading!


Rachel Agnes is a VSL Competitor, Phyrexian Princess, Collector of all things shiny and a Cube, Vintage, Legacy, and EDH enthusiast.
Catch on Twitch and Twitter via Baetog_.


 

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