The Math of Lord of the Rings: Special Holiday Edition

If you’re confused by an additional set of cards with the same set code and even more variations on the Lord of the Rings theme, you’re not alone. Wizards decided that the trip to the Undying Lands wasn’t ready to happen yet, and so decreed that on November 3rd, you’ll be able to buy Special Edition Collector Boosters, another round of Jumpstart boosters, and Scene Boxes.

Let’s talk about all of these, and what you might get, and how hard it will be to get those things. Additionally, we’re going to spend a little time discussing the ramifications of not just a reprinting of a premium product, but adding serialized versions and higher drop rates to such cards.

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.

To learn how ProTrader can benefit YOU, click here to watch our short video.

expensive cards ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, 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.

The World Championship Metagame

The 29th World Championship kicks off this morning, and we’ve been told the metagame ahead of time. With the banning of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Induce Despair, and Reckoner Bankbuster, a lot of really cool options have opened up. The pros are ready for this, and we’ve got a breakdown of what’s coming before the cameras start rolling in Vegas.

So strap in, it’s time to get predictive, and see what’s going to look good on camera, with the idea of buying whilst some things are still cheap.

Here’s the official breakdown:

Now we don’t know the *exact* lists quite yet, but the archetypes give a hint about where the decks are in general, and we know for certain that the most played card from Wilds of Eldraine is Virtue of Persistence, having 84 copies in maindecks and 13 more in sideboards. 

There are 105 competitors, meaning that the max number for any card is 420, and Virtue is at nearly a fourth of that. Given how good it is early, I’m not shocked, and I fully expect this card to be a staple of Standard and Commander for quite a while.

Let’s talk about some potential standouts.

Sheoldred’s Edict (cheapest copies are $3, most expensive is $8)

The Edict has promo versions around but the glorious thing about this card is that the control decks want this just as much as more midrange and aggressive decks do. Being good at controlling the board early is useful, but being able to nab a planeswalker in the mirror match with the same card is going to have this card popping up by a dollar or two.

There’s going to be a lot of decks that run this card this weekend, and running more than a few copies. It’s never bad, and potentially very very good. I have every certainty that on camera, being an instant, it’ll nail someone at the perfect moment. That alone will be worth fifty cents a copy.

Sunfall ($2 to $3)

It’s already in 12,000 Commander decks online, but it’s certain to be in a whole lot more as time passes. There aren’t a lot of recursive threats in Standard right now aside from Mosswood Dreadknight and Tenacious Underdog, but the big draw here is that for one more mana than the usual Wrath of God sort of card, we get an artifact creature of varying sizes. Doesn’t matter how big it is–you get the creature, the board presence, right away. 

Also, it’s helpful that this nails all the token creatures that planeswalkers produce, and gets that much bigger afterwards as a result. We’ll see a little bit of Farewell doing good work, but the star of the board wipes will be this rare and if the control decks look good this weekend, Sunfall will hit $5 or more.

Bloodthirsty Adversary ($3 to $11)

When in doubt, aggro them out, and Adversary is an exceptional card early and late. The red decks can do all sorts of aggro things, ranging from pump spells like Monstrous Rage to direct damage or card advantage plus damage in Nahiri’s Warcrafting. Sunfall being five mana is the drawback that’s just enough for a beater like this. The two-mana haste creature is fantastic with Kumano Faces Kakkazan, and this has an extra bonus if you get to five mana too.

I don’t think we’ll get anything as backbreaking as the Dauthi Voidwalker-Thoughtseize-free casting of Ulamog on camera but I imagine there will be some aggro player who topdecks this card with a Monstrous Rage in the yard and hits for six out of nowhere for the win. 

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse ($70 to $120) 

I’ve suspected that Sheoldred has needed a ban for a while, the card is everywhere and despite all the bannings around it, it’s still the most popular creature this weekend. It fits into the Esper Legends decks, the Golgari Midrange, and so on. Only the most controlling of decks declines to play this, and it’s not hard to see why.

Huge life swings, punishing the card draw engines, and a giant five toughness makes this a dream of a card and something worth the effort and the price tag. I’m surprised we haven’t gotten something to keep this price under control, even a List printing would help. A good showing this weekend and we’ll have our first $100 card in Standard since Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.

Adeline, Resplendent Cathar ($7 to $32)

Both the Esper Legends decks and the Mono-White Aggro lists are running a bunch of Adeline, and if it wasn’t for the copies that were added in a March of the Machine Commander deck, we’d already be looking at a $20 card. The way Adeline snowballs and synergizes is truly impressive, and a lot of the fastest starts we’ll see this weekend will include a hit from Adeline for 5+ damage. 

The graph clearly shows how the extra influx dropped prices of the regular copies, and the price is likely to recover past $10 this weekend and might go as high as $15.

Leyline Binding ($8 to $13)

A super-popular spell all over the place, there are a lot of awesome synergies with this card. Two tri-lands and this is castable on turn 2. If you have Up The Beanstalk out, for one mana you get the exile and you get to draw a card! Enchantment synergies, it can trigger on the opponent’s turn if you want that bonus, the list goes on.

As an added bonus, the card is popular in Commander and Modern, and is even present in the super-neat Invasion of Alara Cascade Reanimator deck in Standard that only a couple of people brought to the World Championship.

Regular copies will break $10 this weekend, and have the potential to go a lot higher. 

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, 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.

Checking Back in on Dominaria Remastered

Dominaria Remastered was a set with two goals: drive the price of regular copies of some iconic cards downwards and create a tier of premium versions worth a pretty penny. This would justify the additional cost that was put in place for these packs. The first part has succeeded, and it’s time for us to look at what’s gotten cheap from DMR. Perhaps we’re ready to buy in for future gains, perhaps not.

A caveat: Wizards has double-printed some casual staples this year, and so I view none of these as perfectly safe. Secret Lairs are always a potential source for reprints, even more than once. Modern Horizons 3 is coming up next summer, and we get Commander decks with every new set. Lots of cards are coming, and we’ll see reprints on all of these eventually. Question is, can we get our copies and make a profit before then?

For each card, I’ve looked up its graph, current price for a basic version (none of the premiums today) and I’ll give you its EDHREC rank as well. I’m focusing on the basic versions but depending on the card, there may be premiums to chase. There may well be more than one premium version to chase, and that’s a risk on its own.

Also remember that EDHREC is not perfect data. The database is extremely useful, but only reflects the folks who have bothered to upload the entirety of a deck. Casual users are left out, something we have to detect from other price patterns. I use the data, but we have to be aware of its limitations.

Urza’s Incubator (74,000 decks, $21)

Typal decks are eternally popular. The support given to each different creature type is getting better and better every year, and this card goes into every single one of them. It’s avoided significant reprints until now, and we were given a borderless and a retro foil with new art. There’s a lot going on, and we even got a new round of copies in the Angels Secret Lair deck that was done recently.

For the people who haven’t tried it, this is better than any mana rock that costs less than five mana. And you get to use it more than once per turn! Incubator should be in a lot more decks, and every new creature-type-lord means you should see an uptick. Faeries, Elves, Dragons, it doesn’t matter. Play it.

We’ve seen this card reach incredible heights, and now that it’s been in print for a while, with some additional copies from the Secret Lair, this is a wonderful price for getting your personal copies. The two different premiums will tick upwards, people will choose their favorite, but as long as this dodges a reprint, it’ll be great.

Sylvan Library ($19, 212,000 decks)

One of the cards that has enormously benefited from Commander, this is so very, very busted when you start with 40 life. It’s great with fetchlands, lifegain, or any deck who wants to do more early or late. We’ve seen this in Commander Collections, Fourth Edition, and more than one reprint set. It would be an excellent anchor for a Secret Lair or any other set. 

The arc for this card is impressive, because we hadn’t had any real number of copies added since Eternal Masters. Its price has been pushed to the lowest in ten years, and it’s a good time to get in for your copies. We’ve been given some special printings over the years, but DMR added a borderless and a retro frame to a card that goes all the way back to Legends. 

The price is right for you to get what you need now, and the reprint risk is relatively low compared to some other cards. This won’t be in Modern Horizons 3, for instance.

Enlightened Tutor ($13, 254,000 decks)

Enlightened Tutor, all the way back to Mirage, has been a card crying out for use and abuse. We’ve gotten no end of awesome enchantment Commanders, or artifact ones, and the most recent, Anikthea, deserves to have this card in her list. 

The EMA printing didn’t do much to slow the card’s growth financially, but this printing in DMR has really torpedoed the price. I’m confident it’ll recover if it can go another year without a reprint, which is not a given. Again, this is a fantastic price if you want to get a personal copy or two, especially the sweet Richard Kane Ferguson art on the borderless, but picking up a brick of regular copies feels like it will pay off well.

Vampiric Tutor ($27, 313,000 decks)

The simplicity of the card is matched only by the killer art, which dates back to Eternal Masters. I’m very fond of the retro foil FNM version, but Raymond Swaland just nails this skull and all its accessories. Find what you need, pay two life. Add any card-draw effect and you’re off to the races.

Most black decks should be playing this, and when this is most popular tends to track with when Demonic Tutor is extra expensive. DT is down to around $30 right now thanks to being in Commander Masters, so I’d be patient on buying Vampiric until that price is trending upwards.

Mystic Remora ($4, 273,000 decks)

The last two cards I want to talk about have a really interesting combination of Commander use and low price. These feel like they should be more expensive, but they haven’t yet regained value after their printing. 

Remora barely made it to $10, even on its best day. That was before a gorgeous Kelogsloops version came out last year, and then we got the DMR printing. Four bucks feels too low for a card that is arguably better than Rhystic Study. Rhystic is a tax on everything which gives your opponents the choice. Remora costs you mana, yes, but puts an overly heavy tax on their noncreature spells. Paying four, except in the latest of late games, just isn’t realistic. 

Even with the number of copies out there, the price is slowly trending upwards since the summer and this might be your last chance to get in cheap.

Mystical Tutor ($6, 248,000 decks)

Mystical Tutor has had a lot more printings than Remora, but is also a more popular and flexible card. Spellbooks, Secret Lair, FTV, Eternal Masters and even a time on The List has given us a LOT of copies, so the low price is more understandable here. 

That said, the EMA version was $17 before Dominaria Remastered, and even with the influx of copies, plus two premium versions, will not keep this card down forever. It’s up a dollar since early August, so if you’re looking for the floor, we might be there right now. Even as a rare, this sells around 10-12 copies a day on TCG, so walls don’t last long. Be prepared for this to break $10 by New Year’s.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, 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.

Early Movement on Wilds of Eldraine

The set officially releases today, after being available to draft online, and while you’d think that preorders would have trended downwards, some specific cards have gone kind of haywire. Let’s take a look at what cards have gone up and what’s gone down, and perhaps see where things are going to go.

Generally speaking, preorders are a sign of overeager behavior. There’s no huge tournament coming up that people need cards immediately to have the new hotness, and it’s impossible to buy up available supply as a speculator for a card that’s about to have millions of packs unleashed on the world.

So when preorder prices go crazy, that means people have gone crazy with anticipation, demanding it RIGHT NOW! They don’t care that the prices are going to come down soon. I respect the need to have a new sweet card in a deck, and I don’t judge folks for overpaying for premium versions early. Heaven knows I’ve done stuff like buy a foil borderless Tiamat for $50 early on (currently $20) and done worse for the cards I need to have for a new deck.

Let’s start out with the big one.

Beseech the Mirror was under $30, and shot up to sell some copies at nearly $70, and is back down to the $35 range as of the night before release. There’s no question of the card’s power, the combos are quite prevalent and all of them worthwhile. 

I fully expect to see this go back under $30, maybe as low as $20, but long-term, this is clearly a powerhouse and is only going to get better with new cards being printed at four mana or less. We’ve seen a lot of variations on tutors, and this is very very good. Clearly Wizards’ testers thought it was very good, with the card ending up having a very restrictive mana cost.

Agatha’s Soul Cauldron went from above $30 to $14 and is now at $20, where I expect it to slowly decline. Again, there are many combos and they are all wacky and fun and mean you win after ten minutes of explanations to the rest of the table and two judge calls.

It’s got Commander applications, not just for combos but also for exiling things from graveyards and adding counters to your stuff. If you build around the card, there’s a whole lot you can do, much like a fun Experiment Kraj deck with infinite damage. I have a hard time imagining that this will hold a price thanks to inherent demand. This will probably be a flash in the pan, and slowly lose value till it’s pushing against $5 for regular copies.

Stroke of Midnight is about to make you some money. If you crack a promo foil soon, sell it ASAP, as there’s a lot out there. Later on, we’ll come back and add a lot of these to our carts and make another tidy profit.

I don’t think there’s money to be made on the regular versions as yet. On TCGPlayer, they are already around $2 with shipping, and this is about to get opened a whole lot. If they were in the 50¢ range, I might think about it, but at $2 each I’d need to be selling at $4 to make a worthwhile profit. Pass for now. It’s also definitely going to be in a Secret Lair soon–Beast Within has had several special printings, and this is just as good.

Another uncommon that’s on the rise, I’ll be interested to see where this lands. We’ve had another card very similar in what it does, and it hasn’t really moved, even for the premium version. Garruk’s Uprising does the same thing but focuses on power, not mana cost, but also gives trample, which every green creature wants.

Uprising is also getting a version in the Enchanting Tales, and that’s probably the last straw for the financial value. It’s a card that sells well, had a neat Showcase version, but there were just so many copies that the value never really had a chance to go up. 

Up the Beanstalk does not have a premium version, just the pack foil. As a new card, it’s going to be a thing that casual players vacuum up left and right, because it’s just about their dream card. Play huge creatures and cantrip every time, even if the spell is countered? I can see the appeal. It’s not even creatures only, it’s any spell!

I will be looking to buy a lot of foil copies in about 3-6 months. If we were still in lockdown, and only big stores were opening product to sell, this card would be a target now. As it stands, because we’re drafting and having conventions, I’m expecting a lot of this to go into storage.

Finally, let’s talk about Questing Druid. We know that this has potential, especially with multiples allowing for the adventure to do a lot of work. This got down near a quarter and is trending back up near a dollar, likely because deckbuilders recognize how fast this can grow if in the right deck. I’ve seen Pioneer players trying to figure out how to cast a green spell in the Pia Nalaar decks, and that seems like a fantastic set of interactions too.

As a mere rare, and not even one of the creaturelands, this would need incredible adoption levels across many formats to hit $10. We’re talking Ledger Shredder/Fable of the Mirror-Breaker popularity, and I don’t think this will get there.

However, in the absence of control decks who can wipe the board easily, I can see a world where this climbs to the $5 range because a cast on two can easily mean attacking for three on three, with a one-mana trick held up just in case. Watch out.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, 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.