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.
Please, please, please. I’m begging you. Resist the urge to buy things right away. It’s terrible value and you should only do it if you play enough in person to make it worthwhile.
Maybe you don’t want to believe my experience. That’s okay. I’ve got the receipts.
It’s been a long-standing phenomenon in Magic that when a set comes out, it’s at its most expensive. You can get into the economic principles if you’re so inclined, but that’s not my area of expertise. I’ve simply been around enough new sets to know that things are almost never worth buying right away, except in the case of the most format-defining cards, or the biggest cross-format stars.
Before you buy that new card, understand that for 99% of the cards, you should wait two weeks, at minimum. Let’s take some quick examples from early in Zendikar Rising:
Ancient Greenwarden has some delightful Commander synergies and is probably worth a look at buying, given that supply is at max right now. Preorders were all above $20, some as high as $25.
Forsaken Monument is a card I like right now, especially in FEA around $13, but the regular versions were going for $17 at the start of the set, a full $10 higher than they are now.
Let’s take a trip back farther, to Throne of Eldraine. How about a low-circulation card, only available in a Commander deck, which might run out?
Nope, dropped like a rock. How about a regular mythic, The Royal Scions?
Now, on a long enough timeline, some of these can look solid. For instance, from early 2018, here’s the graph for Bramble Sovereign:
It was preordering in the $15-$17 range, so you had a chance to preorder at that price, wait 18 months, sell at $22, and make $2. Nothing to trumpet, but hey, profit is profit.
One thing I want to make clear: I’m talking about the preorder prices for the regular frame, nonfoil versions of cards. Stores generally aren’t preselling the premium versions of cards, because it’s difficult to know what you’ll get in the boxes you open, especially during a pandemic. The presence of special frames and foils will generally drive down the price of the nonfoil regulars, as the collectors with more to spend will go after those versions and leave the more basic ones behind.
In Kaldheim, we have some pretty bad offenders, and hopefully, you’re not thinking about buying these until the dust settles.
Koma, Cosmos Serpent ($8) – I freely admit that this is a limited bomb, requiring an answer before that first upkeep trigger. It’s got some potential in Commander, but in the best Commander colors, it’s got some big competition. It’s going to drop, by at least half. If you have to have it right away, recognize the extra that you’re paying.
Esika, God of the Tree // The Prismatic Bridge ($10) – I love this card and I can’t wait to add it to my Ur-Dragon deck. The problem is, I’m going to need precisely one copy. Its color identity means that it’s five colors or bust, and that’s a niche market indeed. I can absolutely see a world where the foil showcase of this goes for $25+ and the regular nonfoil is under $4. Please don’t overspend on this when you don’t have to.
The World Tree ($7) – It takes a lot for a land to hold a price above $4 as a rare. It needs to be popular in more than one format, it needs to be useful, and pop up all over the place. Just like Esika, this is five-colors only, and yes, it’s a very sweet land for those decks. It’s not going to see any Standard play, and it’s got a big price drop coming. Please be patient.
Tibalt’s Trickery ($8) – This seems bad to me. Yes, it’s a red counterspell, but they are going to get something after all. Chaos Warp has a 33% chance (or so, most decks are around a third lands) to just whiff and give the controller a land to replace what you shuffled into the deck, but Tibalt’s Trickery guarantees a spell. I imagine this will see more play than it should, but price-wise, this is going to fall like a rock and you definitely don’t want to be an early adopter here. Wait till it’s a $1 card.
Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor ($19) – This seems absurdly high, even for a mythic that switches between being good early or good late. Yes, if you cascade into this card off of something like Shardless Agent you can choose to cast the backside, a decently-powered seven drop of a planeswalker, but that’s a pretty niche application. I think this card has potential, just not $20 a copy potential. More like $10, or $7.
Eradicator Valkyrie ($6) – Is this a decent card? Yes. It’s got good stats and an ability that can be relevant, but isn’t Rankle, Master of Pranks just better in every way? Lifelink is good, but this is destined to be outclassed for a long time. I think this falls a long way, approaching bulk mythic status.
There are some cards in this set that I think are fantastic, and I can’t wait to buy up some cheap stacks of cards in six weeks or so, but please, save yourself the money and don’t preorder anything.
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.