By: Travis Allen
M15 spoilers are are well underway, with only one mythic left to go at the time of this writing. Join me in a week or two for the full set review. In the meantime, I’m going to double back and check out my Born of the Gods review. We’re going to see what I wrote, how accurate I was, if there are any lessons to be learned, and finally consider the future of the card now that we know more about it and the metagame at large.
It’s important to remember when reading any set review that we are forced to evaluate cards in a pseudo-vacuum, but they never exist as such. When I look at Brimaz I have to consider the card individually, free of whatever the metagame looks like that particular month. Brimaz’s text box isn’t going to change but the cards other people are playing are. I need to focus on what concrete information I have available to me. Because of this set reviews are especially challenging. I have to look at Brimaz and make an evaluation based strictly on the words printed on the card, but his true worth will be dependent on the cards around him, a pool that will change significantly over time. Cards that are excellent right now may have been trash in an alternate timeline. It would be easy to construct a Standard environment where Desecration Demon is crap (such as INN-RTR,) or where Prime Speaker Zegana is a chase mythic. Even the hallowed Jace was bad at release since there wasn’t a single other playable blue card in the format and Bloodbraid Elf + Blightning threatened to shut him down as soon as he resolved.
The point I’m making is that when considering this review, and all other reviews, it’s important to be good Bayesians and recognize that a powerful card should be good and a weaker, situational card should be bad, but the constraints of the format around them, complete unknowns to the hapless reviewer, will be the true determining factor in identifying whether a card is a bulk mythic or a $20 rare.
Preorders for Brimaz are around $25 at the moment. This is still in the prerelease honeymoon period, but out of all the mythics, Brimaz is the clear front runner. I would guess that he won’t manage to get much lower than $10 ever, if even that low. If he sinks as low as $15 I wouldn’t hesitate to start grabbing copies, and under $15 go hog wild. If you are dying to play with him right now I think you could do worse than buying a set and accepting the fact that you’re losing $40 on the purchase. If you’re the only guy in the room putting Simba tokens into play he could very well make up that $40 pretty quickly.
I’d like to say I had a pretty good bead on Brimaz. He’s seen a tad less play than I and many others would have predicted, and is therefore on the lower end of the projected price range, but overall he’s well within the limits that were laid out. I probably wasn’t quite explicit enough with that range because that only sets me up for failure. You’ll have to take me at my word that I was thinking he would be between $15 and $20.
Like many cards in Theros, especially the good ones, we won’t see him cheaper until possibly next April, so if you want a set now is the time to hop in.
It’s apparent from Sam’s article that they are pushing Eidolon a bit more than Keldon Warlord. Creatures of this nature historically haven’t been quite good enough, and even if they are, they’re probably not being played as a four-of. There isn’t any money to be made here at the moment, but when it hits bulk rare in a few weeks, I couldn’t fault you for grabbing copies. It’s one heck of a way to follow up an Ajani. The art is pretty cool too, so that’s something.
The demand for Countless Battles was apparently greater than expected, given that he’s hanging around $2, although it seems to have come mostly from casual tables. He’s shown up only rarely in any constructed format. (I say this as I have four sleeved up for a Standard deck.) I guess once Keldon Warlord is pushed enough it becomes popular. He isn’t soaring above my call of bulk pricing, but he’s still more than I thought he would be. Perhaps this is also a factor of being in Born of the Gods? I can’t imagine he would hold $2 if printed in Theros. It’s possible a great deal of my price expectations will be a tad low if I didn’t fully take into account the 6:2:1 distribution.
Unlikely to do too much in Standard (see Planar Cleansing,) but it’s got EDH written all over it. Like most cards of this type, normal copies will be $.15 and foils will be a few bucks.
The cheapest copy on TCG is $.23, so I was pretty close. It may have gotten that cheap if someone didn’t play it in UW control once at an SCG event.
A cool casual card that is almost definitely not going to make it past FNM. He could sneak up to a dollar or two once Theros rotates, so if you can get them for basically free, go for it. Don’t expect anything out of him in Standard though. The reason Bant Auras was a thing last season was because your two targets were hexproof, and the reason Kor Spiritdancer is good enough in Modern is that she draws cards before they can kill her. This particular hero has neither of those going for him.
Hero is hanging around $1.50 right now which is right in the expected range. He got there a tad early on casual demand but he isn’t surging over $5 or anything. There should be some slow growth on this over the years but fear of a reprint in a dual deck or something would keep me away from it.
Idyllic Tutor is a $10 card, but that was in Morningtide, not BNG. There will be probably five to six (or more?) copies of Plea in circulation than Idyllic. It is likely to do well, but in a span of time measured in years.
At $.13, I’d say this was accurate.
From our perspective, the outlook is less exciting. It will be passable in Standard, but it’s hardly more than a Daring Skyjek. Maybe 10%-20% of the time you cast it the rules text will be relevant, but that’s about it. In Modern the forecast is similar, where there isn’t really a huge amount of card draw going around. Combo decks like Pod and Twin don’t need to draw many extra cards if any at all, and Dark Confidant gets around it. Spirit is ultimately at her best in Legacy, which is never really capable of driving prices much on Standard rares. It’s unlikely this will see any more play than Thalia does, and she’s still barely $3. Ship yours now, be on the lookout for foils, and don’t bother acquiring for speculation purposes until it’s under a dollar.
I’m particularly pleased with this, since there were plenty of people that thought this was going to be a Big Deal. There are copies available under $1 on TCG and MTGPrice is showing a fair trade value of just $1.61. Spirit demonstrates that an in-print non-foil rare only used in Legacy just can’t sustain a meaningful price. We’ll all do well to remember this when similar cards show up in future sets.
Remember Cackling Counterpart? Yeah, me neither.
This card already exists in Grimoire Thief. Grimoire Thief is from Morningtide, one of the modern sets most likely to see extraordinary price tags. Grimoire Thief is $1.50. Don’t buy Mindreaver.
This guy is pretty cool, and may actually make it into Standard, but the prerelease promo is going to crush any potential value he had. Fantastic art on the promo, but then I’ve always been a sucker for monsters in the mist.
The coolest sweeper nobody is really going to play. How often are you going to want this over Supreme Verdict? The odds of a deck with creatures wanting to play it is awfully slim, since you’d need enough sea monsters to make it worth it. Perhaps Grixis could use it as a sweeper type effect, but they’ve already got Anger of the Gods, Infest, Bile Blight, etc. I just don’t see this cutting it, and in a world where Spirit of the Labyrinth is a $3 card, this is $.10.
Boy, blue got basically nothing in Born of the Gods, didn’t it?
How expensive can an uncommon get? We may find out this set. With how underwhelming BNG is, there won’t be a rush to crack packs. Given that black is both the best color and deck right now, there’s going to be a lot of demand on Bile Blight and not enough supply. $3-$4+ seems plausible. If you find people selling them for $.50 or less, buy them all.
I liked this, right up until it was in the event deck. Blah. It looks like about a month after release it was around $2, so I wasn’t too far off. If you had bought them at less than $.50 you could have buylisted them at one point for a small profit at least.
$3 is a bit much right now, but when he inevitably sinks to $1, I’ll probably trade for a few playsets and stash him. At the very least, he’s guaranteed to climb back up to a few bucks a ways down the road.
He’s followed the trajectory I anticipated, and I’ve held true to my words and grabbed a few copies where I could. With the new Soul cycle he’s certainly looking a bit more plausible. I can imagine a junk shell that uses dorks, Grisly Salvage, Champion, and a few Souls to generate an engine where you’re either flipping Souls into play from Champion or exiling them to advance your board position. In any case, Champion is a low-risk position to take. He can’t get any cheaper, and Casual/EDH demand may carry him towards $5 in a year or two.
Complete trash in Standard but a popular casual effect, especially in the wake of Nekusar. If this was printed in Shadowmoor, it would have been subjected to the routine price spike we’ve all become accustomed too. Having been printed in BNG though, there will be more Unravelers than those looking to summon her.
At $.37 on MTGPrice, I’d say this was an accurate read.
An acceptable answer to gods for Black (which obviously needs the help,) but will probably never become more than a one or two-of type of thing. The closest comparison is Sever the Bloodline. Sever managed $2 or $3 for a brief window, but that card was pretty much completely better. The flip side of that is that we work with what we’ve got, and there weren’t indestructible Gods begging to be exiled in Innistrad. This card has gotten panned, and as unexciting as I find it, it may have enough of a place in the format to hit $2 or so. Gold tokens are certainly unique at the very least.
This had an outside shot right up until Silence the Believers was printed. It’s been completely outclassed at this point, so stay away.
I have trouble seeing a deck ever wanting this over Nightveil Specter. It does slightly more damage, yes, but being able to steal cards from opponents, especially if you can generate black mana, seems way more valuable. I can’t imagine this doing anything at all until the fall, but perhaps once we lose Nightveil he’ll have a place. I’m not personally wild about him, but if you are, at least wait until June when he’ll be a dime.
Well I botched this one pretty good. The issue is that while I considered Nightveil Specter completely better, I ignored the possibility that other decks that didn’t want Specter may instead want Herald. In my defense he hasn’t set the world on fire, so it’s not like I cost you hundreds of dollars in lost opportunity. I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, and the ~70 Heralds at my apartment are testament to that.
The amount of work you need to do to make this good is just not worth it. Anyone that has cast Confidant knows that more than half the time he’s in play you aren’t turning him sideways, and unless we see some bonkers 1-drop inspiration enablers, Seer won’t be any different. I can imagine someone putting him into a slower Esper humans deck next to Xathrid Necromancer, but that won’t be enough to keep his price up. Avoid at all costs and ship ASAP. Take a 30% loss if you need to, because getting $7 in trade for him at prerelease weekend will be better than $.70 two weeks later.
I may have messed up Herald, but I was spot on with Pain Seer. As expected, it’s been too difficult to make Pain Seer work to drive any real price movement. He’s $1.35 on MTGPrice and most of that is from people still thinking he’s good enough or speculation. The ‘almost’ cards that Wizards prints have a pretty poor track record at this point. I would be cautious of others we see in the future.
Having said all of that, Pain Seer looks much better now than he did at prerelease. Springleaf Drum may not be enough to enable inspiration but it’s definitely a great start. Add in Herald as a way to get Pain Seer into the air and convoke as the returning mechanic in M15 and you’ve got some solid ways to turn Pain Seer sideways. I haven’t bought any yet but I’ve been considering it. I can’t say for sure whether I think this will make it anywhere but I wouldn’t fault you for picking some up.
I talked about Buy-A-Box promos in my Theros review, and the long and short of it is that they’re typically quite playable. Fated Conflagration definitely seems to follow suit, but that triple red seals its fate. It will get played, but the price will never climb above $3 or $4, and that’s pushing it. There’s just not enough decks that can cast this card. Ship now and put your dollars elsewhere.
At $.14 on TCG this has really bottomed out. It quite possibly would have been seriously playable if not for RRR. There’s a chance it could show up in Eidolon of the Great Revel builds later on, but even that won’t be enough to push it much.
The most intriguing Minotaur I’ve seen yet. With how popular 187s have been lately, and how cheap that trigger is, there’s a chance he could make it to the sixty card leagues. The trigger could have easily been 2R or 3R, at which point I wouldn’t even be writing about it. 1R is affordable enough to be worth discussing. Making copies of Reckoner isn’t terribly exciting, but I’m sure there are other bodies that will be.
Having said all that, can he climb above $1? Probably not. Rares have to see some serious play to make it above a buck, and even if Spiritbinder is good, I doubt he’s that good.
I gave this guy a chance but he just hasn’t materialized. He’s well under $1 at this point. Convoke may help, but it’s unlikely we’ll get something strong enough to really push his price. It would have to be a tier one list to get him above $2.
This card is awesome. Here’s the thing about punisher cards. The kitchen tabler looks at Vexing Devil and says “holy crow that thing is amazing!” The FNM/PTQ player looks at it and says “It’s worse than it looks, because you always get the worst mode of the card.” The wise player looks at it and says “What if I’m happy with the worst mode every time?” That’s where we are.
Sure, you’re going to get the worse half of this card 90% of the time. But if the bad half is still very playable, then the card is completely fine. Four mana for a 3/3 flying haste is a rate we’ve never seen on a monocolored creature that stays around. The only other 5/5 flyer for four in Red made you sac two mountains when it came into play. When you cast this your opponent is going to pick the mode that’s easier to deal with, but they very well may be unable to deal with either, especially after you’ve curved out.
Red is always looking for a good four drop, and they’ve got it in Phoenix. Don’t buy in at $10, but if it slips to sub-$5, feel free to trade. I’ll be putting cash in if it makes it below $2. I’m fairly confident this thing gets below $5 at some point, and then hits $10-$15 before it rotates.
I was clearly far more optimistic about this than others were. Standard red decks often want a four drop finisher. Past performers such as Hero of Oxid Ridge were $10 at some point so there’s some amount of precedence. Of course, the performance of Exava has certainly tempered my enthusiasm. At least I was smart enough not to provide a timetable on when this would spike.
Between Mana Confluence, the impending rotation of Desecration Demon, and the appearance of Painlands, burn is looking pretty well situated. I admittedly haven’t bought any of these yet, but the next time I place an order I may grab a few sets.
This is a curious card. It’s hardly an aggressive creature as a 1/1 for two. But what it does do is reward players for pointing burn at their opponent’s face. I’m sure you’ve all played against the guy with the unsleeved burn deck that shocks you on turn one. With Firedancer, it’s no longer a necessarily bad play (after turn two.) He’s kind of like a two mana personal Furnace of Rath. Allowing your burn to do double duty is nothing to scoff at, and he may be able to put more pressure on a life total than you realize. I expect him to hit bulk rates pretty quick, but I’m not certain he’ll stay there. Between him and Young Pyro, that’s eight two-drops that reward you for playing a lot of instants and sorceries. At the very least, I expect him to be reasonably popular with casual players.
Currently hanging around $1.50, Firedancer is behaving quite similarly to what I predicted. He has no real competitive success to his name, but casual tables and FNMers are fans, which has propped him up above bulk. I’d expect the same moving forward, with his price maybe doubling or so within the next year.
How many $2-$3 uncommons can a single set support? I think we’re going to find out in BNG.
Man these uncommons are killing me. You can probably get $2-$3 for it in trade at least, which is something I guess.
Courser was a real heartbreaker. At first pass I was certain I’d never cast anything else, and then I realized it didn’t allow me to play extra lands each turn. Once I got over my sudden and severe depression, I re-evaluated the card. I can see her being popular in a lot of green decks, both in Standard and more casually-oriented tables. She survives Bile Blight, blocks for days, adds double devotion, and helps ramp decks stay ahead on life against anything terribly aggressive. I feel like she’s probably a $2 card, but given how much I love casting cards like this, it’s hard for me to separate my bias. Use your own judgment on this one.
Hah, for once tempering my love of value green creatures was actually detrimental. I had my personal suspicions that Courser was really quite good but I assumed it was because I’m so biased to like this type of card. I gave you guys a much more conservative reading because I figured she wasn’t nearly as good as I wanted it to be. Turns out, Courser was even better than I thought she was. In fact, she turned out better than everyone thought she was. I guess the lesson here is that when I really think a card is powerful I should be forthcoming about that and not let my self-awareness get in the way of making bolder predictions. I definitely fell short on this one, but nobody would have guessed she’d make it to $15.
Imagine someone has been playing Magic for six months and decides to design a card with Bestow. This is what it would look like. The real kick in the teeth is that it isn’t even Legendary for the subset of EDH players that would want it. I can see this being a few dollars down the road just because of how silly it is, and foils will probably command a bit of a premium, but that’s about it. Look for the person at your prerelease you’ve don’t recognize that has no playmat and no sleeves. Trade it to him.
This has performed exactly as expected, although I’m more of a fan of it now than I was before. It showed up in a few Japanese lists that were able to put together the mana without too much trouble without even having access to Mana Confluence. This guy is wacky for sure, and there’s no guarantee he’ll manage to do anything of relevance, but at $1 in trade I’d be happy to grab him where I could. You’ll be able to buylist him for at least that at some point down the road if nothing materializes.
I think I’m a little blinded to how good Ephara is because once I thought about her alongside of Prophet of Kruphix, I couldn’t think of much else. Regardless of how good she ends up being in Standard, as with most demigods I expect her to sink towards $5 before (if) she manages anything more. UW valuable guys always seems to do well at some point in a format though, and Ephara would be a pretty solid payoff. Detention Sphere is also in these colors, which is going to be an excellent way to remove threats while boosting your devotion. I doubt she’s Thassa good, but she’s better than several others. All in all, I’m pretty up on Ephara.
At only $3 on MTGPrice, I’m a bit surprised. I really didn’t think the gods could get quite that low, but here we are. I did say that she would sink to $5, so at least I had that part of it right. I continue to be of the opinion that she could be relevant after rotation. Notice I said “could” – not “will.”
The only decks Karametra should be fetching from are the 99-card type. I’m guessing she’ll end up being the cheapest God in the medium term, but feel free to grab cheap copies when she bottoms out, because every God will rise after they’ve been out of Standard for a bit. There’s a sliver of a chance she sees play as a one-of in Standard, but I highly doubt it.
I did better here than with Ephara at least.
Pat Chapin said more and better words about Kiora than I can, so read that. As of the 27th there are 40 copies for $25 on SCG, so it’s obvious there isn’t hot demand yet. I’d stay away until she is around $12 or so. Watch to see if she shows up anywhere, and then consider picking some up. For why that is, read my Planeswalker Curve article.
Kiora has seen some moderate play in Standard and she’s right at that $12 mark. I was pretty on with what I expected her to do up until this point. Now is the time to be snagging copies.
Anyone who thinks this card is bad has never played against Sulfuric Vortex. Mogis is going to be hitting for two damage almost every turn, because sacrificing a guy will almost always result in more than two getting through. You can’t think of it as “Oh it’s only taking me from twenty to eighteen.” It’s going to be taking you from ten to eight, and they’re going to have more attackers on the board, and next turn they may play Fanatic. The pressure Mogis is capable of creating is going to be nigh insurmountable in plenty of games. Don’t underestimate him. I consider him in the same ballpark as Phoenix goes in terms of punisher cards. Yes, punisher cards are worse than they look. But whether your opponent is sacrificing guys or taking two damage, either one is probably going to be just fine. A large Master of Waves is the worst-case scenario, and there’s plenty of black removal that solves that problem nicely.
The absolute cheapest God is still about $5 right now, so that’s a pretty firm floor. I’d be happy to trade for Mogis at $5 all day, and sell as soon as he hits $10.
Mogis is still just about $5 so I was pretty accurate with my call of his floor. I continue to think he’s a completely reasonable card, but the metagame just has not broken his way. I obviously don’t know what will happen after rotation, but at least I guess his floor fairly accurately.
Phenax will drop to $5-$7, although it may take slightly longer than the other gods. He also stands to see the most sustainable growth in the long-term. I’d mostly avoid for the time being, and revisit this option next summer.
Phenax is a bit above $4 on MTGPrice right now so I was pretty dang close. Standard has shown us he has no place there. Don’t expect that to change. He isn’t a bad long-term prospect so feel free to grab them in trade, but I wouldn’t be in a rush to stockpile him.
Like the other gods, his floor is around $5-$6, but realistically it’s probably $7 or $8. I’d be comfortable trading for him at $12 or less, because I definitely expect him to make appearances in Standard.
Xenagos, along with most of the other gods, are right at the bottom threshold of my floor predictions. I really thought they would have more impact on Standard than they did. I guess Mono-Black, Mono-Blue and Esper control have just too severely constrained the format for anything interesting to appear.
Xenagos has popped up in a few monsters lists in Standard. The power is clearly there. He really only shows up as a one- or two-of though. We may see some growth by the end of the year, but I’m not sure he can make it past $11 or $12.
The RTR block structure saw a 5-5-10 model of shocks, and a 3 RTR / 3 GTC / 1 DGM – 1 GTC – 1 RTR draft structure. Theros is going 5/3/2, and the draft will be 3 THS / 1 BNG – 2 THS / 1 JOU – 1 BNG – 1 THS. The difference here is that the shocks were evenly spread through the whole RTR block, and no one shock saw considerable more copies printed than the others. The Scrylands will function differently. The first five will be opened constantly for an entire year, with Theros being a part of every draft. The BNG scrys will be considerably less available, as they’re in less packs being opened for a lesser amount of time. These three lands should end up having enough less stock that their price will reflect that. Meanwhile, the Golgari and Izzet lands in JOU will be way underprinted relative to the other ones. Keep this in mind as you’re trading. A simple “one scry for one scry” trade practice could be very lucrative in the future.
I didn’t actually give you any numbers here, but given the price of Temple of Enlightenment, Temple of Malice, and Temple of Plenty, I’d say I had a decent read on how they would behave. Malice hasn’t done much, but both Enlightenment and Plenty are well over $7. If you don’t have yours yet, get them soon.
Overall I think this review was pretty solid. I nailed Spirit of the Labyrinth and Pain Seer, hopefully saving you some money in the process. The Herald of Torment outlook was a bit too pestimistic, Flame-Wreathed Phoenix so far hasn’t been quite as good as I thought it would be, and I wildly underestimated Courser of Kruphix, but all in all I feel mostly pleased with what I put here.