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People, I can’t say it enough: Don’t preorder new cards. 

This may seem counterintuitive to you. After all, new Magic sets are chock full of new interactions, sweet characters, and mechanics begging to be exploited with old cards. 

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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.

Unlocked Pro Trader: The (Maybe) Case for Foils

Readers!

I don’t like EDH foils. I don’t like recommending a card to hundreds of readers when there are like 5 copies of a card left. I don’t like how my Commander Legends foils are curling, but not in the middle so they are straight trash already. I don’t like the fact that Collector Boosters have made foils and non-foils for regular, non-full-art cards basically the same price. I don’t like how foils are LP right out of the pack if the booster was jostled in transit or if you breathe directly on them before you get them in a perfect fit. You can tell me I’m wrong, but you’d be arguing with a personal preference which is a bananas thing for you to do.

Whether or not I like foils, I still feel duty-bound to advocate buying them when I deem it appropriate. I have been informed by MtG Price management that there are times I deem it appropriate. Fine. Fair enough. In fact, there does seem to be a case made for foils, and it’s case that I am going to add another preamble paragraph to qualify.

What I am about to say is speculation. I realize that’s what we do and I got started at a website that literally had “speculation” in its name (we sold gynecological equipment), but lately I have gotten hooked on a drug called “being right” and I am not ready to go back to freebasing “maybe being right” like it’s 2009. That said, this is advice, not instructions, so you’re free to find my case compelling or not. Today, we’re going to talk about foils and how trash they are right now and whether that is an opportunity or not.

I almost wrote today’s article about Double Masters, but apparently I JUST did that. However, looking at Double Masters prices made me realize foils are real weird right now.

Here is the non-foil from Commander 2017

Here is the foil from Double Masters.

Granted, the non-foil from Double Masters is considerably cheaper, but let’s compare these two cards. Is it comparing apples and oranges? Maybe, but perhaps you don’t know whether to buy apples or oranges and they’re the same price right now. Do you think apples or oranges will be worth more in a year? Yeah, bet you didn’t think I’d welcome that apples and oranges comparison, did you? You look ridiculous.

Historically, you’d want “apples” which I guess are foils because apples are sometimes shiny. Foils have a smaller supply so they tend to grow at a faster rate and have a higher ceiling. So do you buy the $6 masters non-foil, the $11 commander non-foil or the $10 masters foil?

I think the $5 non-foil running around makes the $11 non-foil look a lot less attractive. Those prices won’t grow at the same rate, at a certain point they’ll converge. The commander non-foil might come down in price, or the masters non-foil will rise to meet it, or both, but they’ll definitely converge, barring another reprint to muddy the waters.

Aetherflux went from a Washington to a Hamilton. What happened to the foil over the same period?

It went from $5 to $25, but back down again. The Mystery Booster printing didn’t affect the price of the foil, obviously but it plateaued. This is kind of why I don’t love foils. What about something from the same era that didn’t get a mystery booster printing?

The non-foil went from a Washington to a Hamilton as well. What did the foil do?

We’re not seeing much of a foil multiplier on EDH staples from before Collector Boosters, and it’s worse after.

Here is set non-foil.

Here is set foil. Yes, I double checked. So why is the non-foil still the same as the foil months later? It’s because there is a new foil in town.

The extended art foil is twice as much as both the non-foil and foil with the regular border. I think instead of seeing the foil diverge from the non-foil like we used to, we’re going to see the extended art foils and non-foils do the diverging from the regular border versions. The question is, in a year or two, will the extended art non-foils be worth more than the set foils?

It’s hard to say for cheap, non-mythics. Let’s take a look at a Mythic from the same set.

This is murky. Let’s take a look at a profoundly different alternate art card.

Finally, we see a foil multiplier! Even more interestingly, pricing trend data suggests this is actually at its floor despite the foil climbing slightly over the same time period.

If the foil showcase version is falling a bit and the non-foil is climbing, will they swap and the non-foil will be more expensive? Of course not. Will they converge until they’re within a buck of each other like the regular border? Also doubtful. It seems to me for unique, alternate art cards like these, you’ll see the hierarchy you expect – Set non-foil > Showcase non-foil > Set foil > Showcase foil. We aren’t seeing that right now, though, with this triome at least.

However, we are for some other triomes.

What does it all mean?

I think the set foil’s time is over. With quite a few alternate art non-foils being worth more than the set foil, it seems like people have expressed their preference for “special” cards that aren’t foil. However, the data isn’t conclusive enough to say that there is a clear preference. People may end up being divided and with 4 versions of every card to choose from rather than just 2, the most “special’ version may be a matter of opinion.

I think it’s clear that the “best” version is the alternate art foil where possible, and even on cards like Lotus Cobra and Moraug which haven’t shown they’re likely to follow that trend just yet, we’ll see that in a year or two. WotC has a tendency to re-use special art, though, so it’s not like the alternate art completely insulates the card from reprints, but I believe it does help.

I still don’t like foils very much. They get scuffed easily making them easy to get devalued, I have a hard time moving them, there are fewer copies usually so it’s tough to recommend a small pile to a large audience. I’ve said all of this. What I will say is that I think despite showcase foils coming out of the gate very expensive, they are apparently calming down after a few months and I think they could be excellent buys.

Since I didn’t really recommend any cards, I think I’ll do that now.

This is going to keep getting reprinted, but I am not sure how many more extended borders versions there will be. $25 seems decent, but I bet it comes down. Watch the price and if this goes below $20, that has to be the floor or close to it, right?

Three Visits is an OK card that was sort of hyped partly based on its scarcity before, but I also think that a mere 2x multiplier on a card that’s getting used more and more now that it’s not long priced out of decks is small and will likely end up a 4x or 5x barring another reprint of a special version.

This is worth a 3rd as much as the Green one.

Is 1620 more than 1568? Yes. Is it 3 times as much? Nope! Sure ain’t. I think that means that even if the Green one is overpriced (it might be) the Black one is still underpriced. The White one is played less than Green and more than Black and it’s at $17. I like Ambition a lot because it’s the only one I think won’t go down before going up. Watch all 4 (the red one kinda sucks).

The triomes tanked a bit after printing, but War Room seems like it’s starting to disappear under $20. I’d watch it and see if copies around $12 re-appear to replace the ones that sell or if $12 is the floor.

That does it for me this week. I don’t understand foils as well as I would like but I feel like I supported my position with data, which is all I can do. You’re free to make up your own mind and argue with me in the comments – I welcome it. If you’d rather argue with me privately in a Discord server, become a Pro Trader today and have access to that feature as well. Whatever you do, don’t buy like it’s 2012 and I won’t write like it is. Until next time!

The Watchtower 01/11/21 – Throwback to Throne

Throne of Eldraine has been one of the most powerful Standard sets to grace us in recent memory, giving us cards like Oko, Thief of Crowns and Once Upon a Time that ultimately got banned from Standard, Pioneer and Modern. The rest of the set wasn’t exactly feeble either though, with Embercleave and Brazen Borrower amongst others proving their worth in multiple formats.

We’ve already seen The Great Henge regular and EA versions reach dizzying heights, and Borderless foil Okos are up there too even though it’s banned in most places, but there are still some undervalued cards that are close to drying up and just waiting to pop – so let’s take a look at some of them.

Return of the Wildspeaker (FEA)

Price today: $14
Possible price: $30

Throne of Eldraine brought with it the first Collector Boosters, and with them the first Extended Art cards that we’ve come to know and love. They’re the fanciest and most expensive versions of cards that we get printed into Standard sets now, and consequently we’ve seen the more popular ones drain out and prices go bananas. Just from ELD, The Great Henge FEA is over $150, Embercleave almost $80, Faeburrow Elder around $40, and so on.

So, onto Return of the Wildspeaker – this is the third most popular EDH card from the set, clocking in at almost 20k decks on EDHREC and only losing out to Fabled Passage and Mystic Sanctuary. But it’s only $14? Well, not for long by the looks of things. It’s down to 25 listings on TCGPlayer with a nice ramp forming up towards $40, and it’ll only take a handful of EDH players upgrading their copies to move the price upwards significantly. I think that calling this from $14 to $30 is honestly a little conservative, and this could hit $40+ before too long.

Castle Garenbrig (FEA)

Price on MKM: €20 ($24)
Price on TCGPlayer: $34 (but really $40+)
Possible price: $60

Castle Garenbrig has been one of those cards that hasn’t necessarily been broken anywhere, or a super-staple for EDH, but just an all-around consistent performer. We’ve seen it picked up by various Amulet Titan and Eladamri’s Toolbox decks in Modern, as well as being a Standard staple for all the green decks. On top of that, it’s been recorded in almost 12k EDH decks on EDHREC, a very respectable number and a good asset to big creature decks.

Supply in North America is already pretty drained on these, with only 12 listings for a total of 15 NM foil copies left on TCGPlayer; a couple of copies at $34 and then rest $40+. Most main vendors are out of stock or close to it, but if you can find any around or below $30 then you’re doing great (if you’re quick then check out CardKingdom and Miniature Market for a couple of cheaper copies).

Over in Europe, however, you can still pick these up for €20 – but it’s not as if there’s a glut of supply there either, with around 30 copies left. Prices are overall much lower though, which makes for some great arbitrage – there’s instant profit available if you ship these over to the US, or greater returns available if you wait another couple of months. 

Mirrormade (FEA)

Price today: $18
Possible price: $40

Yes, we’re all aboard the FEA train today, because it’s going to be leaving the station in a hurry! Mirrormade is another one that’s getting very low on the supply side, down to 20 listings (23 copies) on TCGPlayer, and a very popular EDH card. Despite lacking any competitive chops, this is still a very good card for EDH and has the open-ended synergy that we love to see in specs.

There are lots of different clone effects for copying artifacts, but not many that copy enchantments and very few that do both. The closest you can really get is Mirage Mirror, which is a powerful and flexible option but not permanent – and if you’re playing one of those effects then you’re probably going to want another one if you can get your hands on it.

These look like they’ll be $30 before long at all, and will head up towards $40+ given another 6-12 months, so if you want any personal or spec copies then now is the time. You can grab some a little cheaper around $15 in Europe if you have access, but I think that most copies under $20 are a good buy right now.


As for the future of FEA cards, the only one we’ve seen reprinted thus far (as an FEA) is Fabled Passage, and that one did understandably catch quite a lot of people off-guard. It may be that it’s just a card that Wizards want to give people a little more access to, because we haven’t seen any other FEA reprints other than that, so I think that the future for these cards is probably quite safe for the time being at least. Reprints are something worth keeping in mind, but going on what we’ve seen so far, I think that almost all FEA specs are safe from reprints in the near future.


David Sharman (@accidentprune on Twitter) has been playing Magic since 2013, dabbling in almost all formats but with a main focus on Modern, EDH and Pioneer. Based in the UK, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.

Zendikar Falling

I know, I know, it’s a reductive title, but it’s accurate.

We are at max supply of Zendikar Rising, all the attention is on the Kaldheim previews that we’re getting, and all I want to do is buy lots and lots of ZNR cards. Let’s look at some of the tastiest options, where we’ll get in and where I’m hoping to get out.

Bala Ged Recovery ($2 regular/$4 foil) – There is no alternate frame available here, but in a different era this would be a slam dunk for an FNM promo. Yes, it’s a $2 uncommon when the set is at its maximum, but it’s already in a TON of Commander decks and this is exactly the sort of card you want as a double-faced land. Early on, you just want the land. Later on, it’s a cheap regrowth and you’ll likely play the card you just got back. It’s not super simple to reprint a foil double-faced card, and there hasn’t been a double-faced card in The List yet or a Secret Lair thereof. It’s possible that a Commander deck will have one random double-faced card, but that’s pretty unlikely. These look relatively safe from reprints and should start a steady growth, especially in foils. I won’t be shocked when the foils double up in a year.

Feed the Swarm ($1/$2) – Same principle applies, although this is notable for being targeted enchantment removal in black, which hasn’t really gotten this effect before. It’s not a great removal spell for creatures, but it’s got a lot of power due to the unique nature of the removal for enchantments. It’s already been put into more than 5,000 decks online, which is an amazingly fast adoption rate, just behind Bala Ged Recovery. The buy-in is low here too, as there isn’t a special frame to chase, just plain old foils.

The Pathways – I’m ambivalent on these. I think they are good, but they aren’t really staples the way that the Triomes are. Not fetchable, and not even as good as buddy lands or Temples. The adoption rate has not been low, but this is just going to be slotted in a whole bunch when you have them. The extended arts look good, I just don’t see a huge growth market because while they are flexible when you play them, you’re locked in. 

Scute Swarm ($2/$2/$3 showcase/$4 showcase foil) – It’s already in nearly 5,000 EDH decks online, and while I don’t relish the idea of keeping track of something like this, it does grow at a geometric rate. Heaven knows there’s enough ways to make this go nuts in Commander games, and if you’re really feeling spicy, mutate something onto it first. This card is a challenge, and something that can already break Magic in its online incarnations. Players dearly love saying “How crazy can I go with something like this?” and that tends to lead to profits. 

Felidar Retreat ($1.50/$1.50/$1.25/$3) – This has been added to decks more slowly, as it’s not in the mega-ramp color that green is, but it’s still an amazing card if you can trigger it regularly. I think it’s being added to +1/+1 counter decks more than token decks, but it does straddle those two worlds admirably. 

Ancient Greenwarden ($14/$16/$18/$24) – I do love mythics at their lowest price points, and especially ones that enable all sorts of shenanigans. We’ve got crossover between the ‘play lands from the yard’ decks like Gitrog Monster that can power out value engine after value engine, cross-referenced with the doubling up of anything that triggers off of lands. Best friends for the Greenwarden include Polluted Bonds (already a big spike on that card though), Field of the Dead, and of course, Tatyova, Benthic Druid.

Thieving Skydiver ($1.25/$1.25/$3/$8) – It’s hard for this to go wrong. It’s been added to a lot of decks online and it does something we all love doing: stealing from other players. Your ramp is now my ramp, thanks so much! There are a lot of decks with comes-into-play abilities that are worth copying, but this one needs to be returned to hand to be used again. Erratic Portal should be the first thing you steal, but play it with Crystal Shard as well.

Malakir Rebirth ($0.50/$1.50) – It’s not as immediately popular as some of the other DFCs from this set, but this is a freebie. Most Commander games, you’ve got a creature that you want to keep in play, and this is one mana to save it from 97% of removal spells. No one would add just the spell to their EDH deck, though, but having this as a land when you need it makes it good enough. I especially like a low buy-in here, though it’ll require you to be a bit more patient on growth. An excellent target for buying in larger numbers, and then buylisting the whole stack.

Glasspool Mimic ($2.50/$3/$4/$6) – Clones are often awesome in Commander, but this one does have the drawback of only copying your stuff. Still, it’s a very cheap Clone at three mana, and it’s a land! I’m in the camp of ‘up your land count to 45+ in Commander’ using these rather than using them as an excuse to shave lands, but you do you. This is also used in a lot of Modern, Pioneer, and Standard decks online, and has the bonus of not rotating out of Standard until October of 2022, hopefully meaning that people will get to play with it in person again.

All five mythic MDFCs – I’ve written before about my love for these, and you should, at the very least, get the ones you’ll play in your own Commander decks. I’ve got Agadeem’s Awakening in every black deck of mine, at the least, and I’m equally big on Turntimber Symbiosis. I think you treat these as spells, and treat the land side as a bonus. Regardless of which version you like, they are all at their lowest price and are worth picking up. 

Lithoform Engine ($10/$11/$14/$20) – Finally, a shoutout to a card that does it all. Copying spells is already awesome, but this offers a real ‘I can do it all!’ feeling. It pays for itself pretty quickly, copying the cool things you’re doing. It’s not in a huge number of decks yet, but being colorless it’s able to be put into any deck. Its popularity in Commander is reflected in the price: there’s not paper play going on, all price movement is EDH-based right now. This is the #3 mythic in ZNR based on price, and you should get your copies while they are cheap.

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.

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