Unlocked Pro Trader: The Cloudy Future of Strixhaven’s Best Card

Readers!

Today I was going to dive more into that decks that are enabled by commanders from Modern Horizons 2 and I really beat my head against the wall. I thought with Lonis giving us so much to work with that all of the commanders would be the same, but if you look at the lists of cards in these decks, there’s nothing new here and that’s a problem.

Yusri, Fortune's Flame

Flipping coins isn’t new.

Sythis, Harvest's Hand

Enchantress decks aren’t new.

Carth the Lion

“IDK, buy planeswalkers” isn’t new or even advice, really.

These commanders are pretty cool, but with the exception of, I guess Lonis, they’re not doing anything new. Absent a real plan for the next few weeks, I want to check back in on a card that everyone already forgot about because it was one set ago and we have moved on as a people. I’m referring, of course, to the best card in Strixhaven.

The Disputed Champ

How do we determine the best card in Strixhaven? Is it the card played in the most total decks? That’s easy.

OK, not the card I wanted.

How about the card played in the largest percentage of eligible decks? That seems like a more fair way to do it.

No, that’s not it, either. OK, it’s clear that it’s not fair to base it on percentage of eligible decks because colorless cards could go in any deck, and therefore they’re going to have a tougher time beating something in a small number of decks like Fracture. So how about we pick the most-used colorless card in the set?

Touché.

Look, enough @#$%ing around, this is the best card in Strixhaven.

Can You Elaborate?

No, I don’t think I will.

Wandering Archaic is the second-most-played card in the set, after Archamge Emeritus. True, Fracture has a higher percentage of inclusion, but we’re comparing 15k decks to 62k decks. Since Frostboil Snarl can’t actually go in every deck because it is bound by the color identity of the mana requirements of the commander, Archaic is actually the most-played Colorless card. It’s a monster and it’s not as unfun to play against as people thought at first. It just comes down and solves problems and keeps the player who plays a bunch of spells and makes everyone watch him go off think twice. What’s the future price for this monster, though?

In this TED talk I am going to try and find some cards to compare this thing to and then we’re going to ask ourselves if buying in between $6 and $9 makes any sense. First, let’s figure out how the card ranks in other categories.

These are the last 5 artifact creatures in the Top 50 colorless creatures which makes me think Archaic would be in the top 100. Let’s not forget, the hundreds of thousands of decks these cards are in is counted over the last 2 years whereas Archaic is in 5,100 decks in the last two months. It seems very likely in two years that Archaic will break the Top 50, maybe the Top 100 colorless cards overall. There are a lot of cheap cards here, so it’s not encouraging that a bulk rare like Metalwork Colossus is in as many decks, but I don’t see Archaic plummeting to $1 anytime soon.

Let’s compare apples to oranges if we can – Archaic is in 5,100 decks in the last few months which is 8% of the eligible decks in that period – is it appropriate to compare it to cards played an 8th as much? Maybe, but maybe not. Let’s look at Colorless cards in 8% of the decks over the last two years.

There is obviously some recency bias to the high degree of inclusion we’re seeing with Archaic – it would have to maintain its high played stats to join these titans of the format, but it could, and if it does, we’re not talking about a $1 Metalwork Colossus, we’re talking about a $5 Gilded Lotus with 8 different available printings. If Gilded Lotus is $5 with 8 printings, how much do you love or hate Archaic at $6 with one printing?

While we’re at it, check out the Top 5 just colorless creatures. Solemn gets played a ton, and of course Hart does, too, but if Archaic maintains its current inclusion numbers, it’s in 3rd place with double the numbers of 4th place. It could be in 2% of decks and still flirt with $20.

The card we were all hoping it would be is Tithe, a card that pre-sold on Card Kingdom for $4.

Even being played as much as it is, Tithe still took almost a year to hit $15 and another year to hit $30. If Smothering Tithe is indeed played 4 times as much as Archaic is in the future, Archaic could have even more than the year it took Tithe to really start to pop off in price. Strixhaven is basically forgotten-about already, and with people moving on, $6-$9 appears to be the buy-in price for Archaic, which is basically fine by me.

I think Archaic is the best card in Strixhaven and while I would have preferred it got a little bit lower, $6 is a fine buy-in price and I’m confident it will get to $20. Remember, it doesn’t need to be Smothering Tithe to get to $20 – we don’t need it to hit $50 after a reprint, we just need it to triple up over a year or two, which seems likely. Double-faced cards are harder to reprint.

One hiccup I see is that we’ll see divergence among different printings given that there are multiple versions of Archaic and with consensus split over what the best version is, we basically have to treat it as the second printing Tithe got from the Brawl decks. That said –

I don’t even hate a $15 buy-in if we think the base version can hit $20.

Have I exhausted like my entire word budget trying to convince you to buy one card? I better wrap it up with some under-explained hits, then!

There isn’t a ton here, but since we talked about Archmage Emeritus before, let’s take a second look.

Can you think of a more ideal graph shape for this moment in time? This is just too perfect. It was high at first because of hype and impatience, it tanked as supply ramped up, it stayed stable for weeks and finally, it’s showing signs of perking up a bit. This is exactly what you want a graph to look like when you buy. I feel more strongly about the extended border now that the price has normalized, and foils and non-foils of the extended border are better targets than set non-foil, which is basically the same price as the non-foil these days. If this is in the running for best card in Strixhaven, why decide between this and Archaic and instead why not buy both? I know I am.

Foils of this haven’t dipped enough yet, though I do see the buylist creeping up to meet the retail. I think this card is likely a future $5 foil despite how much they are dumping foils. If I’m wrong it’s because you cornered me and made me have an opinion about foils, something I DID NOT WANT TO DO AND YOU MADE ME. ARE YOU HAPPY?

If you aren’t into foils, just wait for the non-foil to tank and buy a brick, it’s likely a $3 uncommon in the near term. This card makes treasure and all any decks wants to do right now is make treasure.

I have some opinions about this set that aren’t borne out by data year. I think Mortality Spear is overrated and I think Magma Opus is underrated. I put Zimone in 5 decks this month. Will any of that matter financially? I don’t know. But if Strixhaven gives us two monster cards that are both about half as good as Smothering Tithe at making us money, that’s really, really good and about all we can ask from a set.

That does it for me, readers. Until next time!

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