Unlocked Pro Trader:The Ikoriarticle


Last week I wrote about Theros: Beyond Death and promised that this week I’d write a very similar article about Ikoria. I think Ikoria is likely even more packed with value, both real and potential and I also think Ikoria had the misfortune of being overshadowed by Covid the most of any set. What in Ikoria still has some room to grow? What’s doing better in EDH than we expect? Join me as I write the same article as last week but this time about a different set, which makes it a completely different article, I promise. Let’s get started!

Ikoria gave us a ton of powerful cards, a ton of very hard to understand cards, some format staples, a sick cycle of cycling tri-lands that are fetchable(!) and some stuff for other formats that I didn’t care about even before no one played them in paper for 2 years. Focusing on EDH, the set is sort of bonkers.


It wasn’t Ikoria that got us started with having 20+ legendary creatures every set, but Ikoria sure didn’t pull any punches, adding 10 companions on top of a more than adequate number of legends and giving us a Commander set on top of it all. I’ll focus on the Commander set in another installment, which is just as well since there are 22 creatures to talk about (Lutri was banned before the set was even legal). The order they’re in doesn’t matter a ton for finance reasons, but let’s look at what’s popular and what’s not….ular.

The only surprise for me in the Top 5 is Obosh getting nudged out by Illuna, a commander I have never seen played and forgot existed. Why don’t I have an Illuna deck – that card is really powerful. My personal bias aside, this is about what I expected. I think the Companions are under-performing a bit because you don’t need to run them as a commander if you can run them as a companion instead and make your own Kirkland brand partner combination. Is that a point worth making? I mean, maybe? But the relative popularity of the commanders is interesting even though it probably doesn’t impact any financial decisions we make since we identified what was likely to go up a year ago.

Prepare the be shocked even less by the next part.

If you bet anything other than 5 Triomes in the Top 5, you were metagaming, assuming by virtue of asking the question I was hinting that it was something other than the expected outcome. Of course the Triomes are number 1 through 5 with… I assume 5 bullets. You can’t be 1-5 with a bullet, can you? The point is, cards 1-5 with 1-5 bullets is the Triomes, which are just too good. I bought a LOT of them – showcase foil and non-foil mostly, hardly touching the set copies because they’re kinda meh. The problem I see is that I think there is a lot of reprint potential and we need to figure out when to get out. In fact, I think Ikoria has the most cards that “feel” reprintable to me of any set I’ve covered in these retrospectives. That could be a problem.

Ikoria is full of cycles and cycles are more attractive but harder to reprint, sometimes. Occasionally, a card in a cycle will get reprinted without the rest of the cards, in a commander deck or something else. The issue with Ikoria is that the cycles are 3-color which means the EDH deck it goes in has to be at least 3 colors and has to be exactly those three colors. That mitigates reprint risk significantly. I think if a card is especially reprintable, I’ll make a note, but I think we should consider the 3-color cards relatively safe enough that we can talk about them and their price over the next 2 years or so. Let’s begin.

In general, if you see a card that is selling on TCG Player for below Card Kingdom’s bulist price and the graph looks like this, that’s probably a safe place to park some moolah. If you buy the premise that the specific Mardu coloration can mitigate reprint risk, which is an educated guess at best, this feels solid.

Things get murkier when you add in the relatively anmeic growth on the extended version. EDH players seem less hype about these than players in other formats but I also think the prices are going to diverge eventually, and the extended border is even more attractive if it’s reprinted but with the regular border. In general, I like the extended borders, especially with the collector boosters relegating set foils to trash tier status. This already flirted with $12 for a minute and now it’s half that on TCG Player, I say rock and roll.

That said, to an extent, perception of price is more real than what the market is doing right now, and I think I can prove it.

These are much closer in the amount that they’re played than they are in price right now, and I think that’s due in large part to how good Bastion “seems” relative to Recon Mission. Bastion is being compared to cards like Zulaport Cutthroat while Reconnaissance Mission is being compared to cards whose prices seem based on scarcity rather than efficacy like Coastal Piracy. I don’t think being in 3,000 more decks means a card should cost 5 times as much and I don’t care who knows it? Which price is wrong? I don’t know, but they both seem reprintable, so maybe the foils are the place to be.

I think the foil lends some credibility to the conclusion that Bastion may be a bit overpriced, but I think they both go up from here. I don’t love buying uncommons from very recent sets, but I also think $5 was pretty reasonable from Bastion and though neither card will g et played outside of EDH, these are future sub-staples. I don’t call everything a staple, I think the top 100 cards in the format are staples and little else, but I think these are going to both be ubiquitous. Ubiquitous enough to get reprinted, but also enough to shake off a reprinting, especially in foil. I like Recon Mission under a buck a LOT.

This is going to approach $15 until it’s reprinted in my view. I don’t love buying in at $5.50 on a rare, especially one that could get reprinted, but this is a pretty harsh card for a precon and I expect that to mitigate the risk as much as 2 more colors would.

I’d say don’t hesitate to snap these off under $10. This card prevents people from playing their commander, which is mean against Pheldagriff decks but necessary against Food Chain decks, so mind your pod, I guess. The only cards in the set played more than this are the Triomes, 2 Ultimatae and a creature that can go in a 5 color deck and taps for WUBRG. This is going to be good forever* (*until they print a 1 mana 2/5 version of it next year.)

Remember, when you are looking at a set like Ikoria on EDHREC and it’s sorted by % inclusion, the mono-color cards are going to look way worse than the multicolored ones. A card like Ominous Seas which is in nearly 10,000 decks is way below a card like Whirlwind of Thought, which is in half as many.

Foils of this under a buck seems decent considering it’s part of a combo with Greater Good that could be one card away from being a whole deck archetype outside of EDH. I meant to just mention this card in passing but then I looked at the graph and I’m encouraged. This is the foil and I surprisingly think it has decent fundamentals. Don’t prioritize it, maybe, but I think its metrics are encouraging.

This promo is both at a historic low in price and stock at the same time and that doesn’t make much sense to me.

This is also in a low-stock, low-price situation and with how good this card is and how many times I’ve called it a buy in the past, I think anything under $15 is cheating. This is a very unfair card and I don’t know how reprintable it is.

I’m puzzled by the decline in price of this card, but it looks like a buck was its all-time low and it’s currently sitting at $2 which seems fine to me. If you can get these under $2, that HAS to be the floor. 4,000 decks isn’t a ton, but it’s in almost 10% of this last year’s Abzan decks and that’s a popular color combo, so I think this has potential going forward. I see this hitting $5 and staying there eventually.

Ikoria has a lot going on, and with the value spread out over the set, I think there isn’t a ton of pressure on any one card, which means the entire set can grow slowly together. That’s not as sexy as one card going up 1,000% overnight but it beats bad sets every time. It may be too late to buy Triomes, but Whirlwind of Thought, Genesis Ultimatum and Mythos of Snapdax are all under a buck, just waiting for the supply tipping point on TCG Player to tilt. Until then, I’ll be watching last year’s cards. Until next time!