We have almost exactly two months until the official release of Zendikar Rising, and that means we’ve got that much time until War of the Spark rotates out. In addition to being a blast to draft, and introducing a lot of planeswalker variations (static abilities, uncommon power level, Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God having every other ability, etc.) we’ve got to decide what to buy and what to avoid from this set for the long term.
Remember, we’re looking for things that are awesome in the Eternal formats (Vintage, Legacy, Modern, and Pioneer) or in casual/Cube/Commander. Fortunately, or unfortunately, this is the last set with the old rules: there are regular copies, and foil copies, and we’re expecting the foils to be about 3x the price of the nonfoils. The War of the Spark uncut sheets that got sent out last year don’t seem to have made a dent in those foil prices, if you were worried about it.
The foil multiplier rules don’t apply to newer sets, but let’s look at what data we have.
First of all, I need to take a moment and repeat what we’ve been saying on MTG Fast Finance: the alternate-art Japanese planeswalkers in foil are being siphoned out of the market by collectors and players, with the Holy Grail of the Yoshitaka Amano art for Liliana, Dreadhorde General going on eBay for $2,300 or more. That’s the most expensive card possible from a Standard booster pack that I can think of. Expensive boosters are from long-out-of-print sets, and even the lesser planeswalkers in alternate foil are going for $50+.
Suffice it to say, keeping Japanese sealed War of the Spark is an excellent investment. The rise in price of the foil alternates will keep rising, and that will drive up sealed prices. They haven’t gone crazy yet, but the prices of the singles involved will make this climb like mad.
Finale of Devastation ($20 nonfoil/$35 foil) – Being a mythic is part of what’s driving this, but it’s also an upgrade/backup to Green Sun’s Zenith. It’s in 15,000 decks on EDHREC, which is pretty great for a card a little over a year old. It sees some Modern play, because it can go get any part of an infinite combo and isn’t restricted to green creatures. It’s also a finisher, giving +X/+X to the team and wiping out other players. It’s too popular not to get a reprint, though, and that’s the only thing making me pause.
That’s not what a graph of a rotating card usually looks like. That’s a card on the rise, and I have to say it: Get your personal copies now, because while the chance of a reprint is high, we’ve no way of knowing when it’ll be. It’s a little too pricey to be in a Commander deck already. If it dodges reprint in Commander Legends later this year, then it’ll take off. If you’re comfortable with the reprint risk (and a downshift to rare is quite possible) then it’s a great target, because any Commander decks with Green in the colors ought to be running this.
Teferi, Time Raveler ($15/$27/$44 in Stained Glass) – Big in Modern, Pioneer, Legacy, and Commander, this is THE card if you want to have a warm safe feeling that comes from none of your spells being at risk. It’s also the mirror-breaker, the card that can shut down a whole strategy. Being this much of a staple means that it’s got a lot of legs going forward. There are also several versions to watch out for, so aside from the original, there’s also the Secret Lair stained glass and the alternate art in Japanese.
I think Teferi is a good pickup, especially if the price falls a little farther. Ten bucks is a super-reasonable price for a long-term investment, but if it stays at $15, that’s going to take a while longer to get into profits.
Narset’s Reversal ($5/$12) – I didn’t think this would be any good, but you know where it’s phenomenal? Commander. It’s listed in 20,000 decks! The idea is that you’re going to use this spell on a giant haymaker of a spell, something for extra turns, a Comet Storm for 40, or the game-ending Insurrection. The pedigree is there and I think the foil is a solid pickup. This isn’t seeing any play in other places, which means copies are not circulating once they are put into Commander decks.
Ashiok, Dream Render ($1.50 – $100, depending on printing and finish) – There is currently one foil Japanese alt-art copy on TCG for $100, and I don’t think that’s unreasonable for a card with this level of usefulness in Commander. I don’t advocate picking up nonfoil English, but I think Secret Lair stained glass in the $13 range is a fantastic purchase. This shuts down tutors, and exiles everyone’s graveyard, both eminently useful abilities in Commander. Get it, keep it, use it.
Nissa, Who Shakes the World ($5/$12/$40 stained glass)
The graph is helpful here:
That’s a card getting dumped before rotation. The problem is that it’s one of the most-played cards in Standard right now, being best buddies with Uro, Growth Spiral, and Ugin. Your exact configuration may vary, but this Nissa has been a big part of Standard her whole career. There’s just enough interest in Modern and Pioneer ramp, plus her Commander appeal, to make this a very solid pickup once she bottoms out, perhaps as low as $3 right after rotation. There’s a rumor that she’s in all the Godzilla land Secret Lair drops, and if that’s the case, I’ll be looking to pick up stained glass copies on the cheap as they flood the market.
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.