By: Cliff Daigle
So if you’ve been reading things from MTGPrice about the doom and gloom of Battle for Zendikar. You might think this is the worst set ever. Such low power, such cheap cards due to Expeditions, such a waste of time.
I don’t agree.
I feel that there are going to be some cards which will go up during their time in Standard. It’s not going to be the same sort of price graph as other cards, because sets now have 18 months in the format, not 24. Here’s perhaps the best example from the last couple of years, our best-case scenario: Hero’s Downfall.
This was a rare from the most-opened set ever, at the time. There are a lot of things to love about this graph, especially the two spikes. One was at the beginning propelling it to $17 as this card is discovered to be good enough to warrant play as a four-of in any black deck, and one was about a year later, a spike to about $12, as Abzan became the most popular deck in the format.
I don’t think any of Battle for Zendikar has this level of immediate appeal, at least not in the rares. Downfall is fast and universal, and is an excellent card to have alongside Thoughtseize. Having Downfall in your deck means that you can really sculpt what threats you don’t mind your opponent having when you cast an early Thoughtseize, and the two hold hands very well.
The second spike is the most intriguing to me. A year later, after a rotation and some new cards, there was a new surge of interest in the card. I want to think about that. I want to have a few copies of cards that are good enough to see an increase from $1 to $5, give or take.
Here are the cards I think could follow this path, and increase when the next block (or the one after) comes out:
Brutal Expulsion – As others have noted, it’s a darn shame that this doesn’t work with Pyromancer’s Goggles. It would possibly be too good at that point, though. It’s a weird combination of Remand and Cryptic Command, cards that have seen a lot of play, and when this gets cheap I’ll be looking to get my copies.
March from the Tomb – Eight mana’s worth of allies is a wonderful number, especially with haste and lifelink as options for my allies. This seems like a great way to win games out of nowhere, and come back from board wipes easily. Of note is that changelings will work very well with this card in Commander, making foils a very intriguing target.
Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper – For every Ponder, a land becomes a 3/3 haste, or that same land gets an extra three counters. This is another one with combo potential, and it will certainly be a cheap pickup soon.
Painful Truths – Others have discussed this in more detail, but three mana to draw three and lose three life is a pretty good deal. I won’t expect big things out of it, but I’m also not looking to spend too much on it.
Planar Outburst – I feel pretty good about this, especially when End Hostilities rotates out. Wrathing plus getting a creature is a pretty good deal, just ask anyone who’s played Martial Coup. It’ll never be a super expensive card, but the potential for growth is there.
Ruinous Path – Yes, I know it’s not Downfall. It’s a sorcery. It’s been established that it is worse than Downfall. That doesn’t mean it’s not among the best of the options. Removal is getting worse, as you’ve likely noticed. Wizards doesn’t want unconditional two-mana removal, unless perhaps it’s two colors. It would be stronger as an instant but I think this will be the best you can do.
Scatter to the Winds – I can’t give credit because I don’t remember who it is that said in a control deck, you don’t want cards that only win. You want cards that will keep you at parity, and then eventually pull ahead and win. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver is one example, as it’ll get you a blocker or two and eventually pull too far ahead, all from one card. This is another example. It’s a counterspell at the new cost for such, 1UU, but late game when you’re both playing off the top it’s an answer AND it’s a new threat. I think this has potential in a longer-term scenario.
Wasteland Strangler – I don’t think we have all the tools to trigger this consistently on turn three yet. I think that the new set will give us one or two ways to do that and then this becomes phenomenal. Imagine this alongside a Thoughtseize variant, albeit one that doesn’t suck. Perhaps that says more about how overpowered Thoughtseize is? I don’t like having to rely on one- or two-drop creatures to Ingest in order to power this up, but there’s going to be people who try.
A bonus: Beastcaller Savant (Foil)
I don’t know what the combo will be. I really don’t. But I think that a hasty mana creature in Modern has real potential. I will be looking to pick up a few foils cheap.
6 thoughts on “Worth the Rarity?”
Cliff, I appreciate you trying to be optimistic about the value of some of these cards but I truly don’t see it. Brutal Expulsion could be a good outlier, Beastcaller Savant is intriguing but only spending mana for creatures hurts a bit, but the others just don’t measure up. Hero’s Downfall is/was one of the best removal spells EVER and it is instant speed. UB control gets so much worse because Ruinous Path is Sorcery. It works fine with Jace but that instant speed spell which acts as a nearly universal counterspell was sorely missed during play testing. Plus mono black was the clear cut best deck causing the spike, even tho it had an event deck AND a clash pack including Downfall driving the price down. Path is the Buy a Box and I have a feeling is going to be auto reprinted by Wizards.
Painful truths is on par with Read the Bones…with Read u get to scry 2 and then draw so you can go 4 cards deep and lose just 2 life. For a rare and common to be so close in power level doesn’t bode well for the value of Truths IMO. Scatter to the winds is terrible…it provides NO advantage until you get to 6 lands so it’s a turn 3-5 Cancel and there’s still a number of times where a control player won’t want to tap that much mana just for awaken. I see it as a 2 of at most and behind Silumgar’s Scorn, Ojutai’s Command, Disdainful Stroke, etc. Can it spike post Khans rotation? possibly, but I think it’s just not good enough to move past being a 2 of in control decks (it is NOT a good substitute for Dissolve).
So that I’m not all doom and gloom I really do like the Zulaport Cutthroat. D Mad thinks too much of this set will be printed but Swiftspear was in Khans and it’s holding at a low of $2.50 with $15 foils so there’s a little hope for the Cutthroat. And in 100 person prerelease event 6 Expedition lands were opened. While I think Wizards can over-seed Prerelease packs I did predict that they wouldn’t be as impossible to open as people thought. Hope I’m right about that. And the full art basics really are super nice to open…they were the most valuable cards in 5/6 of my packs unfortunately.
Also, if people weren’t sure play Noyan Dar if you open it in limited. He/she is a slow army in a can but really really good…especially when you cast Awaken spells and get 2 land creatures or one huge one.
There were 4 expedition lands opened at my pre-release of 46 people.
I got one. A “Hallowed Fountain”…
First thought upon opening it:
“… but… i wanted a Steam Vents… *pout pout*…”
“Battle for Zendikar?” … More like “Battle for ZendiCRAP” … amirite?
But seriously, though… the prerelease was awesome, and i had a lot of fun. The new set is exciting for me, especially… due to the fact i wasn’t playing MTG during the previous Zendikar set, and i feel like i missed out.
Yeah i know; “everything new is garbage and Wizards has ruined MTG forever”… yadda yadda… i think people who talk like that can’t look past the wasteland of Standard play, or even the perilous and moist tomb of Modern un-death… there is bound to be value in at least one of these new cards or sets, if not obvious right away, just wait until some genius finds a way to break a specific card, and that thing peaks in value. Yeah, WotC may ban said card… however, the likelihood of the card being banned in all formats is pretty small, and at least one sub-group or another will pay for the thing.
In regard to the Expedition Lands, in 2 days of PRs at my local, with a total of ~80 people playing, 4 were known to be opened. I believe WotC may have overseeded the PR packs, just to make the prerelease more fun, but who’s to say for sure? if it turns out that the Exp. might not be as valuable or rare as we all thought they would be, and thatthat pisses you off… well…you just may be a little jealous that you weren’t the one who cracked an Expedition Fetch.
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