Tag Archives: rotation

Preparing for BFZ Rotation


I wrote a lot of words when 18-month Standard was introduced. Many many pixels were burned out with the weight of speculation about what would happen to prices.

So now, we are looking down the barrel of the realigned plan, with Shadows Over Innistrad block and Battle for Zendikar block both rotating at the end of September. That’s about five months away, but with this current infusion of energy and vitality into Standard brewing, I want to look at what’s worth keeping till the end and what you should be getting rid of soon.

Battle for Zendikar

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar ($25): I would get rid of any extras you have. He’s got some appeal outside Standard, especially as he makes an Ally every turn, but he’s a small presence in a couple of Modern sideboards and that’s it. He’s still the defining card of Standard, though, while he remains legal.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger ($23): I recognize that this card is about the best thing that Aetherworks Marvel can cast, and is a four-of in those Standard decks. Keep in mind, though, that this is also one of the best things to do in Modern Tron, and is also a popular card in the semi-niche Legacy Cloudpost decks. The foils available for $40 or less are something I would like to have going forward, as the Commander appeal is high. Keep all you have right now–he’s not going to dip far, if at all, when he rotates.

Sunken Hollow ($4) and the other double-check lands: If you think Frontier has a future, this is a fun spec. Fetches will be legal, and these would be among the choices for fetchable duals, since shocklands aren’t going to be allowed. I’m not going to load up on these, not yet. There is a market for these until September, as manabases are going to play lots and lots of duals (and Islands especially, for Engulf the Shore).

Part the Waterveil ($3.50): I don’t think these will fall very much, but this is among the best of the Time Walk effects in the modern day. I’m going to be trading for these on sight for the next year as a long-term hold.

Oath of the Gatewatch


Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet ($22): If you like Golgari, or delirium decks, you love this card in Standard. Otherwise, he’s ready to take a big dive. I don’t want to have any at all in my possession when rotation hits. Keep your four if you love the deck in Standard, but he’s a one-of in Modern Jund and while he’s good in Commander, he’s not good enough to keep his price high. A loss down to the $10-$12 range seems likely.

Kozilek’s Return ($11): I’d get out of this card too. It’s already done some funky tricks with its price during its time in Standard, and it’s seeing very little play outside Standard. Get rid of them.


Chandra, Flamecaller ($7): Overshadowed by the Torch, and it’s going to lose some big value at rotation. Sell/trade away all of your copies.

Thought-Knot Seer ($7): The spotlight is off of the Eldrazi in Standard, but my goodness, this is a popular card in older formats. I’m advocating that you keep the ones you have, and aggressively go after more, especially the $20 foils that will be popping at some point.

Eldrazi Displacer ($7): Thought-Knot shines in Modern, and Displacer is not only good in that format but it’s an all-star in Commander. I’m in for picking these up in foil or in nonfoil. We know that the Commander decks this year are tribal, and having one of those decks be Eldrazi seems unlikely.

Oath of Nissa ($4): Not worth keeping, and I’ll get in on some foils after rotation if they fall to about $3, as I think that’s a good entry point for the effect in Superfriends Commander decks.

Sea Gate Wreckage: ($1.50/$3): I’d be picking these up all over the place going forward. I love the potential when it gets lower and lower, but it’s seeing just enough play to keep it out of bulk territory.

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What does it mean?

So in case you missed it, we are back to one rotation a year, and that rotation will be in the fall, just as it used to be. But what does it mean? What cards and strategies are impacted? Should I buy now? Should I hold?

Well, it’s actually not that earth-shattering an announcement, considering that the old model didn’t have very long to take root. I freely admit that I don’t play a lot of Standard, so this decision was likely a reflection of conversations with R&D, vendors, distributors, local stores, and of course players. I don’t feel the need to parse the words of the announcement, but I do respect that they are listening to concerns and acting when they can.

A longer rotation means, for us, a return to what many of us consider ‘normal’ cycles with regard to the prices of cards. I have been watching Gideon, Ally of Zendikar for some time, and considering that a bellwether for what good cards should be expected to do financially. In this case, and in a lot of cases, cards aren’t spiking due to Standard demand. Cards were setting a price early and trickling downward, at different rates depending on how much it’s played.

Before the change, there was a point about one year after release when some middling to great cards would spike nicely. My favorite example from recent times was Hero’s Downfall.


Mmmm. Pure, undiluted value. That spike at the rise of Mono-Black Devotion. One of the things I love doing is hunting for the value that will be, and lots of us write about it.

With the 18-month schedule, it’s very difficult for that spike to happen. Cards are going to rotate out so soon, there wasn’t much time to enjoy your deck, especially for cards released in the second set.

Let’s look at Kozilek’s Return.


The power of the card, the need for a four-of, and that it was a mythic in a small set, all contributed to the gain in value, but I don’t think it went as high as it could have, because people knew they were getting a card just for the next few months.


Now, if you pick up some Gideons or Returns, you’re going to be able to play them until next October, making it a lot more palatable to drop the money on a playset.

Gideon is one example, and Return seems likely to pick up a couple bucks, but those aren’t going to grow a lot. I also think that while Liliana, the Last Hope is really well positioned against the swarm of aggressive and tiny creatures in Standard, being at $45 doesn’t leave much area for growth.

Ob Nixilis, Reignited – $4.90 – I know he’s an easily available foil in the Duel Deck that dropped in September, but this is a very cheap price for a strong mythic planeswalker. He does everything a control deck wants, and at worst, he’ll replace himself immediately before getting answered. Being in the Duel Deck is going to seriously cap his value, but cheap planeswalkers are always a solid investment.

Quarantine Field – $1.13 – It’s a bad deal at four mana, but good at six and game-breaking at eight. A dollar mythic is always going to get my attention, though I think Fragmentize puts a top on how high this can go.

Goblin Dark-Dwellers – $1.17 – This was the buy-a-box promotional card so there’s more of them, but this is a card good enough to show up in Modern. I’m a big fan of cards with nowhere to go but up, and we just got a good lesson in how good replaying spells can be, thanks to Torrential Gearhulk. Having flash makes the Gearhulk better, but I like this at a buck.

Oath of Nissa – $2.50 – It’s a rare from a small set that gets played as a four-of. I like getting these and waiting for them to go up to the $4-$5 range.

Cryptolith Rite – $1.37 – Have we forgotten how good these swarm decks can be? This is a real enabler of a card that has good potential to spike.

Declaration in Stone – $5.39 – An excellent candidate to go up now that it’s legal for six more months. If Prized Amalgam decks go up as well, then this or Descend upon the Sinful will really spike.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow – $8.41 – This is a very powerful card, and mythics from this set stand to do very well with the extra time in Standard. I’d look for this to spike by $5 or more when it hits big.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher – $11.41 – There’s two other mythics from this set that are $20+ and all it’s going to take is one good set of results at an SCG open or a GP for this to spike. The supply is rather low (remember, this lost time being drafted due to Conspiracy: Take the Crown) and this could easily be the third card to hit that price.

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BFZ and OGW pickups

Last week I looked at stuff I liked as we head into the home stretch of this set of three blocks.

This week, I want to look at Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch, since we are at the halfway point for those sets. They will rotate out of Standard in about nine months, a schedule I don’t think I’m used to yet.

Ob Nixilis Reignited ($8): I have always loved this set of abilities. Draw a card, kill a creature, grind out a win with the ultimate. It’s seeing light amounts of play and that bodes well. People are aware of the card, and while it’s not a four-of, it’s an important inclusion in superfriends decks that want to jam planeswalker after planeswalker.

I can see this spiking to $15 if a list makes good use of it, and if GW tokens takes a big hit at rotation this should do well. Also on my radar is that if there’s a new Tamiyo coming in Eldritch Moon, then that’s one more option for an Esper control deck. Jace, Ob, Sorin, Gideon…that’s a powerful lineup and there’s no mass planeswalker removal.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger ($14): there are not many decks in Standard making use of this card, but he is definitely the newest tech in big-mana Tron and Ramp decks in Modern.

Even if he gets exiled somehow, casting Ulamog is a three-for-one guaranteed. Getting rid of two problems right now is also why this version of Ulamog is likely better than the original when it comes to Commander and Cube. It lacks the anti-reanimation clause of the Gyre but the 20 card exile is terrifying too. Seeing this get to $20 before the end of the year seems like a given, and $25 would be possible too.

From Beyond ($0.80): I love this as a long-term hold. This is several abilities all in one, all of which are useful. It’s a free 1/1 each turn. It’s a source of mana acceleration. It can even tutor for something big that you want to go find. This has great potential as a long-term casual hold, and you can get them at near-bulk prices.

Bring to Light ($0.81/$5.50 foil/$10 prerelease): I’m listing the foil prices here because the casual demand for this is much higher than the Standard/Modern demand. Normally, I’d expect to see this as about a $3 foil, as in the cases of Akoum Firebird or Shrine of the Forsaken Gods. The price is much more than that, and especially the prerelease foil, which is a real outlier. I like the card as a very flexible sorcery, with the potential to get very good in Modern. It’s also got a lot of potential as a casual card with a very low buy-in, and you can go after foils if you’re feeling it.

Thought-Knot Seer ($7), Reality Smasher ($4): So these Eldrazi and some others (one moment) have come down from their incredible showing at the Pro Tour, so good they got Eye of Ugin banned in Modern. They are so good so fast that they brought Simian Spirit Guide along for the ride, and they have really come down in price. These are small-set rares, and as I’m going to talk about next week, the Eldrazi are starting to be a menace in Legacy.

Eldrazi Mimic ($1), Matter Reshaper ($2): These are seeing less play than the two above, but when you’re going all-in on the colorless threats, they are incredible. Both of these are low-cost to get now and represent great profit going forward.

Eldrazi Displacer ($4.50): This card is one of the best flicker effects we’ve seen in some time. It’s good for you, allowing re-use of your own abilities. It’s bad for them, tapping blockers. It was a four-of in the winning Death and Taxes deck last weekend at an SCG Classic event. It’s for real. It’s also too cheap for the amount of play it’s going to see as we get farther and farther away from opening packs with these in them.

Linvala, the Preserver ($3.50): This is everything a control deck desires. She can gain you life and require two cards to deal with. She reminds me a lot of Timely Reinforcements, though not as easy to cast. She’s a small-set mythic, though, and we have a year for her to get used effectively. A caveat, though: as a legendary creature, she’s unlikely to be run as a four-of.
Goblin Dark-Dwellers ($3): With every spell that gets printed, this card gets better. What really makes it terrifying is the variety of threats that can be presented. Removal spells, discard spells, reanimation spells, you name it, all on a creature of decent size. I would love to see this played alongside Blightning, for instance, but Kolaghan’s Command is awesome too.

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PROTRADER: Shadows over Innistrad Rotation Review

I talked a lot last week about Rotation for Standard and how it is going to affect player interest in our most short-lived format. I also covered the cards from Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins that I thought fit well in this new world and evaluated their financial upside.

This week I’m going to complete that analysis — this time with Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch — to take us live into the new (and mad) world of Standard!

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