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

Mystery Solved!

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Normally I’d be all over the Mythic Championship, held at MagicFest+ Richmond, which included a Hall of Fame induction and some more changes to the Players Tour…and I can’t keep it going. Why is high-level Magic so confusing?

My true interest, though, has been these damn Mystery boosters. I can’t remember the last time a set was completely unknown until packs started getting opened, and that’s an experience I love. I dive right into other peoples’ Cubes, and the only thing I want to know is if it’s got Power in it. Fresh Magic experiences are to be savored, and Mystery didn’t disappoint.

We are going to get the official card list on Monday, but there’s already some things we know and some things worth acting on…

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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.

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.

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What the heck just happened?

I think that Wizards really appreciates Commander as a format. If it hadn’t been invented and codified years ago (remember, the first release was 2011!) then they would have had to do something to come up with a format like this.

A nonrotating, variable power level format where 99.9% of cards are legal, allowing players to pursue the foils, the foreign languages, the miscuts, the alters, just to make their deck unique. 

If it weren’t for Commander, I don’t think we’d have the wide range of products and versions of  cards that we have today.

Commander is also responsible for a big slice of the #mtgfinance pie. For a certain set of cards, the question is ‘When will Commander players notice this card and make it jump 5x in price?’ and that’s both a silly thing and a very very relevant thing.

This past Wednesday, Wizards gave us a few tidbits for what’s coming up, and there’s a lot to unpack in the announcement…

First of all, here’s the official announcement. Read it if you have a moment.

Here’s the first quote that is relevant to us: “I can’t possibly reprint everything, but I think many of you will be happy with the reprints coming throughout 2020.”

That’s the first set of alarm bells for me.

Next, we are told that the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths release won’t have Planeswalker decks, but instead will have the yearly Commander release, with more new cards than ever. 

Zendikar Rising, the Fall 2020 set, will have a couple of Commander decks too but only three new cards per deck.

Then, the two biggest pieces of information:

The Commander Collection: Green is apparently taking the place of the Signature Spellbook (or alongside it?) and will have eight cards. The higher-level WPN stores will get the all-foil versions for selling, and the more plebian ones will only get the nonfoil packages to sell.

Finally, we’re told of Commander Legends, a draftable Commander set. It’s bigger than a normal set, a foil in every pack and two legends per pack. It’ll have some mix of reprints and new cards: “It is larger than a normal set, with oft-asked-for Commander reprints and new cards alike.”

Wow.

My first reaction is that this is all to the good, that more stuff for Commander players is always welcome. And then I start really thinking about it. 

Takeaway #1: Dump anything you’re holding for Commander purposes.

I mean this with every fiber of my being. We are going into a year of heavy-duty reprints. Hopefully, it’s the medium prices like Primal Vigor and the high prices like Bloom Tender. The things that ought to have been reprinted at some point but just haven’t gotten more cards somehow. 

I’m going to spend the time between now and Christmas reviewing what’s in my collection, with ‘Is this going to take a huge dive when it gets reprinted?’ as my guiding light. 

Takeaway #2: We are going to see a lot of new legends, and therefore a lot of spikes. Be prepared to sell into the hype.

While I’m sorting out the things I want to get rid of, I also need to make sure that what I do have is easily accessible. Maybe you have too many cards for a binder and you’re using a spreadsheet, but the important thing is that you’re able to find the cards when you need to. Generally speaking, you’ve got about two to three days to sell into some hype, and it’s vitally important that you do.

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The examples are many, but let’s focus on the sort of spike we’re going to see with new legends. Some new card is released, and there’s new synergies, and all of a sudden, a bulk rare is flying high…for four days. I give you Knucklebone Witch: 

Yes, it’s still selling for a big amount more than it was, but you want to be at the height of the wave. Be prepared, and avoid the situation of putting something up for sale, then being unable to find it. It’s a terrible feeling and it’s quite the stain on your reputation as a seller on any platform.

Takeaway #3: Prices will bottom out…but they will rise again. 

The thing about staples is that they are super popular. You see this with every reprint set, how the value tanks but then rises again over time. Yes, lots of prices are going to tank, but when they do, that’s the time to pick up spare copies, because there’s going to be more Commander players and more Commander decks built. There’s going to be a lot of reprints in 2020. Not necessarily in 2021, though. 

With these ideas in mind, here’s a couple of other cards for your consideration, keeping in mind that they might well get printed at some point, given the sheer number of reprints coming:

Demonic Pact ($1 nonfoil/$4 foil)

It seems likely that we will get another ‘here you go’ Commander in the vein of Zedruu the Greathearted. Black should get a piece of the action this time, as we’ve got cards like Sleeper Agent and Xantcha, Sleeper Agent to fit nicely into such a theme. If you agree with those suppositions, Pact is going to have a great time. 

Weatherlight ($.50/$2.50)

I think we’re going to get something that cares about historic cards, and Weatherlight can do some amazing work in that context. Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain might also be a consideration if you’re willing to stomach the reprint risk.

And a couple of cards I know I’m not keeping:

Doubling Season ($40/$160 for Ravnica pack foil)

Having been reprinted several times ad some of that being a promo, you’d think this would stay down. Nope! And frankly, it never will. The Season is going to be printed again, and when it gets back to $20, I’ll happily scoop up lots and lots of copies for the inevitable growth. 

Oracle of Mul Daya ($29/$84)

Never reprinted in ten years, one of the most efficient ramping creatures, a card that demands to be killed immediately…and a lock to be reprinted next year. I can’t wait to buy copies left and right at $10, or maybe even less.

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.

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Pioneering for profit

Pioneer is here! We’ve been expecting a new nonrotating format for a while, and having the fetches be banned is going to determine the outline of the format. The preliminary look of the thing is wild, with Modern’s bans not shaping the new format…yet.

I get it, I do, that Wizards wants to give people a chance. There’s not going to be an Eldrazi winter, since Temple, Eye, and the Tron lands aren’t legal. Heck, there’s not even bouncelands!

What we do have are some strong opportunities for gaining value, and while you’ve heard some of them, others are yet unpicked…

First of all, two caveats:

  1. Stuff is going to get banned. Sure, there’s no fetchlands, and that makes Deathrite Shaman a lot less busted, but does that mean Treasure Cruise is bad? Dig Through Time, Energy decks, Saheeli Rai plus Felidar Guardian…all of these are too good for a format like Modern, and Pioneer has a lot less answers.
  2. Stuff is going to get reprinted. Aaron Forsythe went on Twitch and said that Mystery this November isn’t Pioneer Masters, but it seems silly that they’d premier a new format without giving availability a boost. The reprints might not be soon, but they will happen. Masters sets sell far too well for this to not happen.

Keep both of these factors in mind. When a card spikes, sell and sell hard.

Heart of Kiran ($2.50 nonfoil/$14 foil)

Travis picked this to hit $5 on Monday, and I think he’s being super pessimistic. This is going to be $10 again, until Abrade becomes a maindeck card. We have two three-drop planeswalkers that have two plus abilities. Heart into The Royal Scions is SIX first strike, flying, trample damage coming in on turn three and that Heart will be available for defense too!

Smuggler’s Copter is the Vehicle getting all the attention, because it’s amazing and pushed, but Heart is the one that’s got a lot less of a chance to get eventually banned. 

Prized Amalgam ($2.50/$5)

There is a Dredge deck in Pioneer, but more accurately it’ll be a self-mill deck. Satyr Wayfinder, Glowspore Shaman, and Grisly Salvage are going to fuel a deck that just keeps coming back again and again. I’m not sure what form it will take, but the payoffs are going to be Amalgam, Narcomeba, and likely Haunted Dead. Amalgam is the only rare I’m interested in from this deck.

Pack Rat ($2/$7)

Amazingly, this has dodged a reprint all these years. People are going to start Pioneer off by rediscovering the hits of the past, and Pack Rat is one of the most resilient cards ever printed. I’m not sure if Mono-Black Devotion is going to be a thing (Or if Devotion returns when we go back to Theros in January) but the Rat was an integral piece to that deck. Thoughtseize is back up to $20, Collective Brutality is $13 (very tempting) but the discard suite is real in Pioneer, with Duress and Lay Bare the Heart likely the best options left.

Elder Deep-Fiend ($1/$2)

Wow did I hate this card in Standard, tapping my lands on my upkeep or tapping down blockers I was going to need. There’s a lot of lists floating around but the good news is that people want to chain these together, turn after turn, which means you’re playing the full four. As a small-set rare, there’s a lot less of these out there than you might expect, and it’s going to have a time where it spikes to $5 or more. Get your copies now, and feel free to hit up foils since they aren’t that much more expensive.

Kozilek’s Return ($2/$7)

The higher price on this is because it’s absurd in Commander, with the number of giant Eldrazi and the need to clean up the little ones. Yes, in case you forgot, this plays VERY well with the Deep-Fiend, and nonfoils should make it back up to $10 when people see this wreak havoc all over the place. 

Master of Waves ($2/$5/$2 Duel Deck foil)

Allow me to introduce you to a little combo I like to call “Oh no…oh yes”: 

Yes, this is a combo. There’s a lot of Elemental goodness to be had in Pioneer, such as Voice of Resurgence, but this is the build-around I’m fascinated with. The presence of a Duel Deck foil doesn’t faze me at all, because I know how well the Master does when you manage to draw more than one. People are going to play a lot of copies, and that’s to the good. Get your now before the camera shines and the spike hits.

Part the Waterveil ($1/$7)

What’s lovely about this card is that it’s going to give you an extra turn and hit your opponent like a truck, all at once. Yes, it exiles itself, but Nexus of Fate is legal in this format too. Waterveil is the best of the rest of the options for extra turns, unless you feel like going deep on Magistrate’s Scepter somehow. If you’ve never cast one of these with Awaken, you’re in for a good time, and dollar mythics almost never go lower. Grab a few now for when they hit big.

The Pioneer Creaturelands (fifty cents to $1.50 for nonfoils, $3-$7 foil)

There’s a lot of talk about what the manabases are for Pioneer, and so far, not enough people are addressing the creaturelands. Mutavault and Mobilized District are options too, but colorless lands need to be a bit better in this format, and all of these have seen some play when they were in Standard. 

I think the default ranking is going to be shocks-buddylands-fastlands, but please don’t sleep on these. All of them are still cheap, haven’t moved much, and haven’t been printed in several years. The good times are going to roll when all of these make it back up to $5+, and my guess would be for the BG and BW ones to be first.

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.

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Seek The Horizons!

The Mythic Championship is this weekend, and after that, it’ll be a Players’ Tour, and from there, make your own joke. I’m old enough to sound crotchety when I complain about the names of things, or how the simple things aren’t so simple, or old rules…you get the idea.

What isn’t old, though, is that Modern Horizons is ready to pop. Buckle up.

First of all, an illustration of the overall pattern for Modern Horizons: Giver of Runes.

You can see that the price had some wild early movement and has now settled in nicely, being stable for about the last month.

The headliner for the set has a similar graph. Benjamin Franklin, meet Wrenn and Six.

There’s one motable card ticking upward the last couple of weeks, and the recent success of Whirza decks, sometimes with or without Paradoxical Outcome, shouldn’t make the uptick in the Lord High Artificer a surprise:

What you may or may not be thinking about is the rest of the set. Oh, sure, you needed some new Canopy-style lands for a deck, and you’ve got to get a couple of Prismatic Vista for different Commander decks, plus there’s only two Force of Negation in the main but you want two in the sideboard…

Modern Horizons has stopped being drafted, and Modern events aren’t center stage at the moment. This is the time to strike. I can respect if you don’t want to go deep on Arcum’s Astrolabe as eventually a $5 card, because you fear Pauper bans. Have you noticed the prevalence of snow lands? A couple of coverage teams have noted on streams that the decks people play no longer have a preference for which art they liked best, they are playing snow lands because they are strictly better. Every percentage point counts.

As wise, aware people, we can see that the combination of a semi-limited run plus falling out of favor plus higher initial price plus very high playability in multiple formats means a set rife with investment potential.

Let’s get one thing straight: If you play a lot of Modern, it’s likely time to get in and buy your playsets now before they cost you a lot more. 

Urza, Lord High Artificer ($42 nonfoil/$142 foil)

The only fly in the ointment is that Urza is a fantastic candidate for reprinting as a Judge foil or other special prize. The card is straight-up busted, fantastic as a commander or in the 99, and is the key to unlocking some amazing turns in the new generation of decks. Thopter-Sword is good, but now Urza gives you infinite spins at the top of your deck, too? Some decks are going the Jeskai Ascendancy route, sometimes with Emry, Lurker of the Loch, but every flavor is delicious in its own way.

Urza is going to be $75 by the beginning of summer, and quite likely sooner if some version of this deck takes down another GP or SCG Open. Foils are a lock to grow and grow, even if a Judge wave hits I’d feel good in the long term. Yes, it’s a lot to buy into a card at $40, but you’re going to resell at a tidy profit within a year.

Mox Tantalite ($4/$24)

That’s a huge multiplier for a card that is only in 500 decks on EDHREC and has 65 foil copies available on TCG. Someone is buying these. Lots of someones. I’m not sure who, but there’s enough of these folks to give a rarely-played card a 6x foil multiplier. This happens with every mythic in the set, and a lot of the rares: foils are more expensive than I would have thought. Either the amount of foils is lower in Modern Horizons (we would have noticed by now) or the demand for the foils is higher across the board. I don’t know the cause but I’m trying to find out.

I do love to buy mythics at very low prices, and I’d understand if you wanted to get in now, but I’d advocate waiting a little bit longer. There’s no rush on a long-term spec like this. Many suspend cards have eventually had their time to shine, and I’m sure this Mox will too.

Echo of Eons ($5/$35)

At only 2000 listed decks, it’s not blowing up Commander yet but I think it’ll get there in Modern first. I like this a lot more than I do the Mox, and I bought a couple playsets when this was in the $8 range. I’m picking up four more at this price, and I’m going to be patient until the day someone breaks this card in half. It’s likely going to be when there’s a second ‘your opponents can’t draw extra cards’ effect like Narset, Parter of Veils, but it’s a question of when the card spikes, not if. 

Dead of Winter ($1/$12)

This foil price is impressive as hell, considering that it’s not seeing much play yet in Whirza sideboards. If you’ve played Gates Ablaze in Standard or even limited, you know how good this effect can be, and it’s so cheap! A little attention will pop this over $5 briefly, and watching it decimate creature strategies will help that price stay.

Whenever you can get in at such a low point, patience is key. It’s not going to take off to $20 out of nowhere, but one day you’ll wake up and be able to see huge returns on very little invested.

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.

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