All posts by Cliff Daigle

I am a father, teacher, cuber and EDH fanatic. My joy is in Casual and Limited formats, though I dip a toe into Constructed when I find something fun to play. I play less than I want to and more than my schedule should really allow. I can easily be reached on Twitter @WordOfCommander. Try out my Busted Uncommons cube at http://www.cubetutor.com/viewcube/76330

What To Do When a Lair Sells Out, and When It Doesn’t

The Secret Lair has sold out the Hatsune Miku drops, but that’s it. The Seedborn Muses and the big bundles are no longer available either. 

What’s that mean for the leftover cards, and what does it mean for the things that sold out? Let’s look at some examples and get into some plans for the sold and the unsold.

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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.

Previewing the Spring Superdrop 2024

In the never-ending quest to reduce wallets and bank accounts to cinders, Wizards is giving us the Spring 2024 Superdrop this coming Monday. We know the contents of those drops, and while there might be another one (suspiciously, we don’t have an Artist Series/Spotlight drop, or an all-lands drop), we do have a lot of information and can make some determinations ahead of time.

Remember, these are no longer print-to-demand. Wizards has already made as many as they are going to make (so they say) and they want to ship these relatively soon. Drops can and do sell out, as we saw with the Beauty of the Beasts drop in Winter and almost all of the recent Equinox drop.

Limited-run cards, a fear of missing out, and speculators aplenty: it’s a recipe for potential profits. Let’s take a look at the drops we know about, and figure out what is worth planning to buy.

Be warned, there’s two unknowns to tread carefully on. First, there could be additional drops coming, and I can’t do anything about total unknowns. Two, we don’t know what the bundle discount will be, and those price reductions can play a big part in potential pricing. If there’s no additional drops, and there’s a 20% discount on an all-foil bundle, that puts the average price to $32 plus tax, which is much more attractive.

Now, the drops!

Hatsune Miku (volume 1 of 4)

Shelter
Chandra’s Ignition as “Miku’s Spark”
Harmonize
Azusa, Lost but Seeking as “Miku, Lost but Singing”
Feather, the Redeemed as “Miku, the Renowned”
Inspiring Vantage

If you don’t know who this is (and I didn’t) then here’s the summary, courtesy of Wizards: “Hatsune Miku is a music software developed by Crypton Future Media, INC., which enables anyone to make their computer sing by entering lyrics and melodies. As a massive number of users created music using the software and posted their works on the Internet, Hatsune Miku quickly evolved into a cultural phenomenon. Since then, Hatsune Miku has gained much attention as a character, involved in many fields such as merchandising and live performance as a virtual singer. Now her popularity has spread across the globe.”

Yes, this is a completely virtual being, made and programmed by a company. However, this is a big enough phenomenon to stage concert tours with big audiences, and has been a thing since 2009. Yes, Hatsune Miku is older than Innistrad. There was also a collaboration done during the time of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, in case you forgot!

It needs to be said that it’s okay if this is not your fandom, not your cup of tea, not your preferred type of music. Secret Lair/Universes Beyond is going to try a lot of things, and will have a wide range of successes and failures. 

I am confident this will be the first drop to sell out, for two reasons. 

First of all, this is a bigger fanbase than you think it is, and they love collectibles. That alone will be enough to get me to buy a couple, but there’s an added wrinkle. We’ve been told that there will be a total of four Hatsune Miku drops, spread out across 2024. That means we’ll have four drops’ worth of time (close to the end of the year) to build up demand, and when that last drop arrives, people are going to want the whole set, the perfect time to have an extra couple copies of volume one.

Clearly, the cards are not valuable. Azusa is the only one close to it at $4, with a few sweet copies. Harmonize is a Cube staple, and is in 178,000 Commander decks, though there’s several special versions including a textless Player Rewards. None of those are over $5. The value, though, isn’t the cards but who’s on them and the collectibility therein. 

Sans Mercy

Torment of Hailfire (111k decks, $20 basic, $45 foil)
Ruination
Mogix, God of Slaughter
Doom Blade
Massacre

This drop is 100% predicated on the value of a special frame Torment of Hailfire. The basic nonfoil is $20, and the foil is $45. There’s been no reprints or special versions, so this one has fantastic potential. In a year, I won’t be shocked if it’s $75. The other cards are niche, and while regular Mogis is nearly $10 and the other Secret Lair version is $20, I don’t think this version will hold much value at all.

Poker Face

Professional Face-Breaker ($8-$12)
Rankle, Master of Pranks
Jaxis, the Troublemaker
Goblin King
Coffin Queen ($10, no reprints since Tempest)

This has a lot of potential. Rankle has very wide price range, with FEA versions from original Eldraine being nearly $30 and the recent Commander reprints being under a dollar. This is the first version with different art, and it’s a very unique look too. Both Jaxis and the Queen should rebound on prices, and Face-Breaker is a must-have in Treasure decks.

All told, the card choices plus the unique look makes this a drop I believe in, and I will get a couple copies. 

Wanted!

r/magicTCG - New Secret Lair Alert! Showcase: Outlaws of Thunder Junction
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet ($8 nonfoil, $17 foil, was on The List once)
Magda, Brazen Outlaw
Dack Fayden
Greasefang, Okiba Boss

All the value here is on Kalitas’ first major reprint and while that’s not a terrible plan, the rest of these are not exciting. We also know that the Wanted! frames from Thunder Junction aren’t mega-price-increasing, so these probably won’t see any big increases from any of these cards. I might not get this bundle, unless the big discount is worth it.

Outlaw Anthology Vol 1: Rebellious Renegades

Tezzeret, the Seeker 50k decks, has SL from 2022
Griselbrand, banned, but $8, with Liliana SL
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
Grenzo, Havoc Raiser

This drop is intriguing. Tezzeret and Griselbanned both have a previous drop on their record, so we know those prices can rebound. Unexciting but likely to be solid IF they can both go another two years without reprints. I also personally hate the weathered edges on these. The Creepshow drop has this, and I really don’t like how I can’t tell if a card has edge damage.

Outlaw Anthology Vol 2: Sinister Scoundrels

Karona, False God ($2/$73 split, no reprints since Scourge in 2003)
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger (45k decks, several reprints, $6)
Korvold, Fae-Cursed King (14k decks as commander, #21 all time)
Memnarch ($8/$27 split, FTV and Archenemy copies, 12k decks total)

Now this drop has a lot of potential and should do very well. Korvold has been a top Commander basically since he came on the scene in Throne of Eldraine. It’s easy to see why: great color combination, there’s boatloads of ways to abuse his draw trigger, and Wizards has been making more and more sacrifice tokens: Treasures, Clues, Maps, Junk, Blood, etc. 

Vorinclex will be $5 forever now, with this reprint. He’s got oodles of frames to choose from, and while there’s plenty of decks that play the card, there’s also a whole lot of copies out there. Karona is terrifying in any 5-color Kindred deck, but rewards you very well for building the right deck. Memnarch hasn’t been a factor despite the Commander formula of ‘get mana do crimes’ goes off. There’s just easier ways to win nowadays. Still, this should be worth a few dollars as well, making this drop solid all around and worth my budget.

Goblingram

Brash Taunter (75k decks, nothing over $3)
Goblin Chieftain (currently available for $3 nonfoil/$7-8 foil)
Goblin Ringleader (bulk, but FNM is $8 and APO foil is $35)
Mogg War Marshal
Goblin Welder (nothing under $15)

In a lot of ways, this is like the Hatsune Miku drop. This might not be for you, and that’s okay–the people who like it will LOVE it. All of these are solid Goblin inclusions if you like the tribe, and there’s been enough casual interest over the years to make sure that these are useful. Welder has never had a different frame (though there is a Judge foil at $55+) and the rest are good cards for the archetype. You’re allowed to think the frame is silly, but the cards are worthwhile and the drop should be a good bet to grow nicely.

If I were to rank the drops based on my expectations of future profit, it would be in this order:

  1. Hatsune Miku vol. 1
  2. Sans Mercy
  3. Outlaws vol. 2
  4. Goblingram
  5. Poker Face
  6. Outlaws vol. 1
  7. Wanted!

The bonus card to this drop, well, it’s a doozy:

You’ll get one of these for every $200 you spend, and this is easily the best SL inclusion card they’ve done so far. Seedborn is a casual all-star, useful in regular and cEDH alike, and a card that demands you get it off the table before someone else goes too wild.

Seedborn’s original foils from Legions are near $200, and while there’s some 8th and 9th edition foils that some purists will like, this version should easily hit $50. If not immediately, it won’t take long.

As a result, I’m exceedingly likely to buy in on some foil bundles. Last time, it was six drops for $210 (instead of $240). With seven, I’m expecting something in the range of $240 instead of $280, about 15% off. If I know I’m getting five drops I feel good about plus the Seedborn, I want in. I’d prefer to leave out the Outlaws vol. 1, as that’s my least favorite of the Drops, but basically getting that one for free feels good too. I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying two or three bundles on Monday.

Disagree with my rankings or plans? Feel free to come tell me, on Twitter or on the ProTrader Discord. 

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.

The not-so-secret sauce for a successful Secret Lair

We’re getting a new superdrop on May 13, just about a week away. We know two of the drops, and there’s presumably more coming. This is right on the heels of the Fallout drop, which was right after Sheldon’s drop and the one before that, and the one before that…

The core idea is that these Lairs are going to keep coming, especially with most of them being limited in quantities. We have a lot of historical data for Secret Lairs at this point, and I want to solidify what we know and see if there’s trends we can identify. With that information, perhaps we can figure out if we want to buy the upcoming Lairs.

Let’s start off with a big thing: We don’t know exactly how many of each Secret Lair get sold. Wizards knows, but they don’t want to tell us. Foil versions tend to appreciate faster, because Commander players and collectors like shiny things, but there’s more than a few lairs where the nonfoils grew faster in price because less people bought them. I think this concept comes into play a lot with Secret Lairs: If they aren’t immediately/obviously popular, then vendors and speculators (like us) won’t buy it. That means as players discover the cards, there’s less in circulation. 

A great example of this is City Styles. None of these cards by themselves are rare, and they were not bought in large quantities (apparently). But as time passed, thee value kept creeping up, and we all wish we’d bought more of these.

Secret Lair Drop: City Styles - Traditional Foil Edition-1

Another trait that might push prices is exclusivity. Being Magic-Con only hasn’t pushed up the price of the Li’l Giri Saves The Day edition, but Burning Revelations is pricey for the sealed edition. Likewise, there’s some three-days-only editions, like Extra Life, that have flamed out pretty badly.

There are some traits that don’t guarantee a high price, and chief among those is age. Reaper King was from the first batch of Secret Lairs released, and it’s still $5 even though the other two cards, The Ur-Dragon and The First Sliver, have gone up-up-up. Just being old, without being popular, isn’t enough to guarantee a raise in prices.

Another category that has generally not done well is lands. There are a few exceptions, but the drops that are ‘here’s a set of basics with sweet art’ usually aren’t big gainers. The pixel snow lands are probably the biggest growth in value, but there’s lots of dropped lands that just landed like a rock and stayed there. 

Some of the Artist Series has gone up in price, but the majority hasn’t. Much depends on which cards they were asked to highlight. Also, the Artist Series has almost always been in the regular frame, and that’s just a travesty. The Fallout drop was the first time that every drop had at least a borderless frame going on. Likewise, a fun theme won’t save lackluster cards, as we saw in the LOTR drops that featured the Bakshi film images. 

The collaboration drops have been a mixed bag. The first one, with The Walking Dead, has taken a very long time to grow in price, even with Rick, Steadfast Leader being a ridiculous boon and an expensive card for Human decks of any flavor. Street Fighter is still at $60 plus shipping, despite a great IP, unique and interesting cards, and being several years old. Stranger Things has had much more success, but there’s been seasons released after the drop came out and every time, that tends to trigger a spike. Hang on for the final season, it might get wild. I’m waiting to see if the new Dr. Who episodes with the Fifteenth Doctor cause that card (only available in a Drop, not a Commander deck or Collector Booster) to jump. 

Unique frames tend to get there. We’ve had some amazing frames that have gone nowhere immediately, but over time, and even with reprints they get to be among the most expensive versions of a card. For example, the Dreadbore that is in the ‘Party Hard, Shred Harder’ drop is $4, when regular versions are under a quarter. The MSCHF drop is a great example of this, though the sealed drop is still available under $70 for having very unique looks. Almost all of the ‘movie poster’ themes did well too, as an example of things that they will likely go back to. 

One of the traits that, amazingly, does guarantee a high price is having cute animals. Every drop with adorable pets on it has performed well, including the full 100-card deck. Special lands, reprint versions, you name it. This applies even to cards that have a low price in the regular version. Qasali Slingers, for example, has two versions under $4 but the Secret Lair version is over $20. 

Unsurprisingly, a drop full of staples tends to do well. Through the Wormhole has nearly tripled since it was available in December, and that’s a drop with Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Command Tower, Thought Vessel, and Lightning Greaves. Mega-Staples, but with sweet art and an even sweeter Galaxy Foil treatment. 

Secret Lair Drop: Through the Wormhole - Galaxy Foil Edition-1

Finally, let’s talk for a moment about what was probably the best-selling Drop (until, I’m wagering, Sheldon’s Spellbook, but I have no data on that): the Phyrexian Praetors. We found out quickly that these had the mirror-image, serialized Viscera Seer in them, and demand went nuts early, then settled down when everyone got theirs, then bumped up a bit around March of the Machine, and after that, has done nothing but slide downwards. Even now, almost three years later, there’s still around 150 copies of the drop, sealed, available on TCGPlayer and oodles of the singles available from when people went nuts trying to find Seers. All kinds of cautionary tales in those cards, people.

So…what’s the tl:dr here?

I want to buy Secret Lairs that have one or more (preferably a lot!) of the following traits:

  1. Other people aren’t buying
  2. Does neat things with the frame, borderless at least
  3. Has a unique foiling look
  4. Includes super-popular Commander staples
  5. Art has cute cats/dogs

Conversely, I want to avoid:

  1. Overly niche cards (kindred drops like Creepshow or Calling all Hydra Heads)
  2. Land sets
  3. Terrible art choices (Extra Life 2021 has TWO Craterhoof Behemoths and yet sealed is under $60)
  4. Regular Frame cards

This list isn’t comprehensive, and you’ll find exceptions to these rules, but it’s a good summary of where I am and what I’m doing. For disclosure’s sake, my last two Secret Lair purchases were 10x of Sheldon’s Spellbook (#2 and #4 above) and 3x of the full Foil bundle, plus an extra 4x of Rovina Cai in foil (#2, #3, #4). Hope that helps!

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.

Checking Back On Wilds Of Eldraine

Every so often, we need to look back at previous sets. Specs are not what they used to be, and I’m only interested in things with a high degree of usage, preferably in Commander, and that have been out for a few months. 

So today, we’re going to take a look at a few cards from Wilds of Eldraine, and see what’s at the intersection of ‘used often’ and ‘maximum supply’ which is the most likely path to future profit.

A couple of caveats before we get into this list. First of all, the reprint risk is real and constant. Between Special Guests, The List, a million Commander precons per year, everything Secret Lair, and the myriad bonus sheets we get with modern-day sets, there’s never been more reprints flooding the zone. Second, when using EDHREC data, we have to be aware of its limitations. Only the most invested of players bother to upload their lists, and there’s a bias towards precons in that dataset. The data from EDHREC is useful, but it’s not perfect and it’s not all-encompassing. 

Also, a couple of these cards have likely been flagged in the ProTrader Discord and mentioned on MTG Fast Finance. That doesn’t make them worse picks, it just means that the cards have already been noticed as future gainers. Finally, since all of these are relatively recent, there’s a chance that the prices could go lower as enough packs are opened, and make their way into the retail network. I’ll note what I can in this regard. 

Beseech the Mirror ($15 and trending down slightly) – This is the #2 card by EDHREC rankings from WOE, and I suspect that’s buoyed up by cEDH players, a subset that is growing in number and influence. It’s easy to see this as a combo piece of some kind, but it’s also just an extremely effective card. The card is inching downward in price, as the graph shows:

It’s a mythic from an in-print set, but also keep in mind that it’ll be Standard legal for the next three years. That’s a long time to unlock a broken combo, or for some new interaction to come along. The basic version is probably going to offer the best gains, as the FEA version is pushing $50 right now. It’s much easier to imagine the basic version going $15 to $30 than the FEA going from $50 to $100.

Up the Beanstalk ($2.50 foil) – Uncommons like this represent a strong candidate for reprints, as they are powerful yet inexpensive. Green decks in Commander have a range of choices like this: Garruk’s Uprising, Elemental Bond, Guardian Project, etc., but this is cheap as heck and comes with its own draw built in. I love it as a cantrip engine with cost reducers, and it’s already in more than 30,000 decks online. I would advocate getting your personal copies now, and a few extras. I wouldn’t plan on waiting forever, though, because of that reprint risk. 

Virtue of Persistence ($15 showcase foil) – Just about every black Commander deck should think about running this card. It’s strictly better than Debtors’ Knell, given the change in colors and mana cost. What it offers, though, is two cards you want to play rolled up together. We all know we don’t play enough point removal in Commander, and there’s always a good target for -3/-3. After you solve that problem, the enchantment is nicely tucked away in exile, where only something super niche like Riftsweeper can get to it. I think this card is more popular in casual circles than we can easily measure, just look at the prices for this compared to the other Virtue cards. As such, I advocate you stock up on the showcase foils, since the prices are so close to each other. This is another card that has gotten some Standard play as well, thanks to the efficiency of the two spells combined. It’s also a candidate for cascade decks, giving those decks a two-mana removal spell that has a cascade value of seven mana. Against an aggro red deck, one kill spell and two life can be enough to gain the turn you need to stabilize.

Stroke of Midnight ($5 promo foil) – I have gotten burned badly by promo foils before. There’s just so many of these out there, it’s hard for it to gain much further than it has. We’d need it to hit $8 or preferably the $10 range before there was a decent profit to be made, and so I’m mentioning this card as a card to avoid. By all means, grab your personal copies, it’s in nearly 100,000 decks online, but understand that the supply on these is deep and the demand will not have a chance to hollow it out before we get to the next big thing. 

Monstrous Rage ($3 non-foil) – I would not have picked this at the outset of Wilds of Eldraine, but here we are, a $3 nonfoil common. It’s gotten here as a four-of in assorted Red Deck Wins/Prowess/Aggro decks, good for three power and trample. With the addition of Slickshot Show-Off, this is one mana to add five power to a creature, and +1/+1 and trample sticks around! Up from $1 at the start of 2024, it’s taken off fast with the explosion of decks that want it, which is getting a Slickshot boost. I like nonfoils here for tourney players who hate curling, but you can talk me into shiny ones as well. Your reprint risk here is mainly Secret Lair/The List, because a Commander inclusion would need four decks to get the needed playset. The Monster Role is a specific mechanic and hard to add into other sets, plus this would be a pretty quick reprint. I think there will be a window in the next few months for you to buy now and resell at a good profit.

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.