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

Buying up Dominaria

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Dominaria was one of the best draft sets of all time. I don’t think I’ll ever have as good a time in Limited as I did when I could draft Dampen Thought in 3x Champions of Kamigawa, and Spider Spawning decks will make me happy no matter the format, but Dominaria was awesome.

It also gave us one of the most expensive cards we’ve had in Standard for a while: Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and icon of UW control’s ideals.

Teferi represents a test of something I’ve usually been good at: figuring out what price I want to buy at as the price comes down pre-rotation. He’s only one of a few cards from the set that I need to think about, though:

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Cliff ( @WordOfCommander ) has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, 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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The Rivals of Summer

It’s a Pro Tour, no, a paper Pro Tour, no, wait, a tabletop Mythic Championship #1 2019 next weekend.

If you follow the same sorts of folks I do on Twitter, you’re familiar with the jokes about names and awful branding and why does the 2019 MagicFest shirt have a design that echoes genitalia and so on but really, the change in the event names is the biggest fail of all. I could handle “Pro Tour Nagasaki 2017” pretty well but that failed to convey what the Standard metagame was like. In contrast, Pro Tour Dominaria will immediately call to mind how Teferi, Hero of Dominaria came roaring onto the scene. I will miss naming PTs after sets.

Last week I brought up some Ixalan cards that are buys or holds going into this summer and the rotation in the fall. There’s one subset of cards I wanted to mention, and then we’re into the Rivals of Ixalan cards I’ll be watching, plus a touch of PT spec.

I was remiss in not bringing up my favorite speculative pick of Ixalan: The buy-a-box/treasure chest promo versions of the Ixalan flip cards, which Travis Allen taught me to call Mapsterpieces, are fantastic pickups, especially the cheap ones. Search is about $60 and that’s a good price for a card seeing the Legacy and Modern play that this one is, Rites at $20 is a solid pickup as a budget Gaea’s Cradle, and the rest are super cheap, relatively niche, and a wonderful set to have put away for their inevitable spike. I have a soft spot for Conqueror’s Galleon, mainly because the flipped side is everything you ever wanted in Commander.

Rivals of Ixalan, as the last small set we’re going to have until they decide to bring back small sets, is in a smaller circulation than every other set that’s Standard-legal. This has not translated to a lot of expensive cards, but there are some sweet ones to look for.

The Immortal Sun ($16 nonfoil/$30 foil): Buy

I love this card in both versions but I’d so much rather have the foils. This is a card that goes in just about any Commander deck, is very one-sided, and shuts down all planeswalkers. Yes, that’s yours too, but that’s the price for the many other benefits you get. I think this is a very strong candidate to get reprinted in a future Commander deck, and so I advocate foils.

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This saw a bump about the time that Guilds of Ravnica came out:

It’s seen some play in Standard, only 2000 decks over on EDHREC, and that’s why it’s $15 to pick up and not $10 or even $7. Still, I’m hoping it’ll come down in price, but I’m not holding my breath. If the price falls that means a good amount are still circulating, but my main thought is that most of the copies out there have been picked up and put into decks, never to come out unless they add more planeswalkers.

Jadelight Ranger ($9/$14): Sell

This is going to be a dollar by Thanksgiving, if it’s not bulk. It’s seen zero Modern play, it’s in less than 400 decks, the foil is 1.5x the nonfoil, instead of the two-to-three multiplier we’d prefer. It all adds up to a card that has no chance once it rotates. Please don’t keep a single one a moment longer than you have to. I respect if you have been playing with it for 18 months, and you want to hang on to the end, but even if this does well at the PT, I want no part of it.

Hadana’s Climb ($6/$11): Sell, then buy after it drops

Frankly, this applies to all five of the enemy-color flip cards from Rivals, as they are mostly very very powerful when flipped and run a wide gamut before then. I like cards with a low buy-in and low chance of reprint, and you’ll be able to get these dirt cheap. Again, I like foils a lot more and they won’t cost you that much more to get.

Azor’s Gateway ($5/$15): Sell

There was a point that this was a $15 card:

And that ship has sailed, friends. Yes, the land is amazing and a half, and if they ever print a card that allows you to transform target permanent this will be among the first to take off, but for now, I just can’t recommend it. I want to love this card, given that it’s two to play and just one to loot, but we can do better in Commander and the big payoff takes forever. I’m just not in on this card unless it drops to near-bulk prices, and then I’ll listen.

Now, as for the Pro Tour, and what to buy ahead of time, I’ve got some quick hits.

Kaya’s Wrath is going to have a good showing. River of Soot had a chance, I thought, but with both Cry of the Carnarium and Kaya’s Wrath, the control decks are pretty set. I don’t think it’ll win it all, but we’ll see a lot of boardwipe effects.

I really like having a few Venerated Loxodon at cheap prices. Don’t bother with the foils, but we’re going to see some impressive games on camera for this card, pumping a team before something else pumps the team.

I’m also a fan of picking up Expansion/Explosion before someone reminds us that it’s an instant and does sick things with Wilderness Reclamation. It’s $2 now, but it was $5 not long ago and that’s when it was being opened. Now that it’s at peak supply and lowest price, is there a bigger instant to cast?

Finally, if you’ve been holding Vivien Reid, I’m previewing myself a bit here but I think the best time to sell will be during the PT weekend. I foresee a spike for her, as she answers so many of Standard’s current problems quite effectively. I’m not buying her, not at this price with only two sets till she rotates, but if you’ve got spares, get ready.

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Ixalan Sells and Holds

Yes, dear reader, the title isn’t an exaggeration: I’m thinking carefully about what I want to hold through Standard’s rotation in seven months or so. I never want to get caught with too much Standard as rotation approaches, and if I bought in on something that I haven’t yet moved, I definitely want to be ahead of the pack when it comes to selling out.

Before we go too deep, let’s take a moment and reflect on the timing involved.

Let’s face it: the summer before rotation, soon-to-be rotating cards get crushed in terms of their value. That often presents some awesome opportunities for buying cards that fell too far, but I loathe being caught with excess copies in July.

Some examples of why I want to sell out so early:

Glorybringer fell from $6 to under a buck. Ouch.

Hazoret the Fervent actually hit peak price at this point in its Standard life, but now it’s fallen from $20 to $4.

Torrential Gearhulk was above $15 and is now $3. Get the picture?

For us, this means that if we’re not playing with a card right now, it’s time to move on all singles except what we are playing with. There’s a lot of time left in Standard, from a Magic viewpoint. The Magic Finance viewpoint, though, points out that now is the time to get all the value you can for a long list of cards, but today we’re going to focus on Ixalan block.

Carnage Tyrant ($28): Sell

Yup, now is the time to move all but your last four, and I’d be okay if you kept two. There aren’t many decks running the full playset but it’ll still be a force in Standard these last few months. Occasionally, someone has 1-2 of these in a TitanShift deck in Modern, but that’s few and far between. The Tyrant, by Thanksgiving, will be under ten but above five bucks.

Search for Azcanta ($15): Hold

It’s too popular in Modern and Legacy to lose too much value. The decks that want this effect REALLY want it and it comes down so blessedly fast that you don’t lose much tempo. I like picking up the buy-a-box promos in the $50-$60 range, because when the spike comes on, we’re going to hit $100 or more on the Mapsterpieces.

The current graph actually makes me want to wait and buy some more, as it’s trending downwards:

Vraska’s Contempt ($10): Sell

It’s not played in other Constructed formats, and if you want to pick up foils cheap on hopes of future Commander spikes, I think you’re being too optimistic. I’ll give you that it might be the most flexible instant available, and exiling is relevant, but it’s too niche for me.

Star of Extinction ($9): Sell like there’s no tomorrow

This was a $1 card for quite a while and it’ll go back to being bulk in a few months, Keep the few you play and move the rest right the hell now while you still can.

Treasure Map ($8): Sell

I was really hoping that this was played in some Modern decks, or some Commander, but nope. Very very niche, not commonly played. You’ve got better choices in how to draw cards in artifact decks and this has no future after Standard. Time to move on, matey.

Legion’s Landing ($7): Sell, but hang onto foils

While the card is played in only 1400 EDH decks, and I’d play it after I had Kjeldoran Outpost, it’s a solid token card in decks that want the chance to rebuild after the endless board wipes. I think there’s a future here, so foils are what I’ll be getting as the price withers away.

Settle the Wreckage ($5): Sell for now

I’m hard-pressed to find a card that shows up as a one-of in the 75.Control decks want to have access to one, and the first one is devastating. The threat of the second and third is effective, and in sideboarded games your opponent will be more careful. It’s a bad rate once they figure out you have it, though, so you don’t want too many.

I’m intrigued by the card long-term, but only when it drops to the $2 level. It’s only in 1000 Commander decks online, which makes sense. At five mana you get Hallowed Burial, my favorite wrath effect.

Field of Ruin ($3): Hold

Yes, I think you should hold the $3 uncommon, but the risk of a reprint is my biggest fear. Field is all over the place in Modern, and there are three-color control decks playing three copies. That’s quite a hit for decks to take, especially ones that play Cryptic Command! The plan appears to be to get the one or two basics from your opponent’s deck into play, at which point Field is a Strip Mine and Path to Exile is just a Dispatch with metalcraft active.

This is a very easy card to throw into a Commander reprint, but Field foils are already $20. Given the amount of Modern play it sees, that’s actually a very tempting price for me.

Vanquisher’s Banner ($4/$7 foil): Hold, and buy more

This is one of my top targets as the summer winds down. I want all of the foils I can possibly have. Tribal decks are all over the place, and this is a very potent enabler, making your team bigger and adding cantrips to each of the tribe’s members.

I don’t think this price will go down much, though, because none of the demand is from Standard players. This is already a popular Commander card, and that’s what has the price this high without a speck of Constructed play.

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, 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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Gatekeeping

Yes, the title is corny as hell but that’s what the Internet is for these days, right? We have a lot of first-week-tournaments to look over with Ravnica Allegiance, and more than a few cards to discuss.

Some of these aren’t done, and others are at their peak. We have three months of RNA being opened in front of us, so I expect all prices to come down…well, almost all prices. You’ll see what I mean.

Hydroid Krasis (Now at $33)

The little Jellyfish Hydra Beast that could, I liked buying at the preorder of $12 because I thought this was a $20+ card. I should have gone deeper on it at the preorder price, but c’est la vie.

If you have them, sell them now. There’s a few people selling on TCG in the low $20s, with an add-on of shipping helping protect profits, a sneaky trick that I wish didn’t exist. We’ve moved into the industrial-scale level of opening RNA, and this is just one mythic of fifteen. You’re not guaranteed one per box, it’s more like one every three to four boxes.

I advocate selling extra copies now, and then picking them up again in eight weeks when they will be back down in the $20-$25 range. This is going to be a fixture in Standard for its entire life.

Vivien Reid ($22)

She was under $10 before she became a staple in Golgari decks at the beginning of Guilds of Ravnica, and her position is even more important now as a clean answer to the Krasis. Yes, the other player got their cards and life, but you still have to deal with the huge trampling flyer. Vivien’s minus ability hits all sorts of annoying permanents, from Lyra Dawnbringer to Wilderness Reclamation to Treasure Map. I think she will grow by a few dollars more, as she becomes even more widely adopted.

Do keep in mind that Vivien is a terrible spec because she rotates out of Standard at the end of summer. Yes, that’s over six months away, but from another standpoint, it’s also just a couple of sets away. Finish RNA, then it’s War of the Spark, Core Set 2020, and then poof! Don’t get caught holding extras of her when she starts trending downwards in price.

All the Gate cards (Guild Summit, Gates Ablaze, Circuitous Route, etc)

None of these are expensive, but hang a big YET on that sentence. It’s a deck based around uncommons, and it’s a real deck. Gates Ablaze works very well as a sweeper, and the way Gatebreaker Ram scales to live through that sweeper is exquisite.

I also love that since it’s based around Gates, and we’ve got eleven of those (plus Plaza of Harmony, which I always think is a Gate) then you’re free to play pretty much anything you want. Nexus of Fate, Mass Manipulation, Carnage Tyrant, Settle the Wreckage…whatever flights of fancy you want to indulge in.

The core of this deck is the Summit and the Ablaze, and those will be around for a while. I expect this deck to be popular because it’ll be cheap, except for the Hydroid Krasis most of them are running. I won’t be surprised if the core uncommons get to a dollar or two, so if you hate paying high prices for cards that were once cheap (hello Lava Coil!) then keep a set of these around.

Midnight Reaper ($3)

This was under $1 just a couple of weeks ago, but it’s the favored way for the Sultai decks to stay even on cards in the face of a sweeper, especially when paired with Wildgrowth Walker and some explore triggers. It’s not a four-of in these decks, as multiples get super painful, but it’s an excellent insurance policy.

I don’t think it’ll go as high as $7, but I think $5 is going to happen at some point before it rotates in October 2020.

Electrodominance (down to $5)

For a card that was supposed to upend Modern, well, let’s go to the graph:

Ouch. $15 at one point and now people on eBay are begging you to take it at $5, and it’s likely got farther to go.

Let’s look at the card it’s been paired with a whole bunch, Restore Balance:

Now that, my friends, is a real rollercoaster ride. As Foretold, another card which triggered one of those elevator rides for Restore Balance, has gone from $6 to $7. All this price movement is based on speculation, there have only been a couple of decks trying to make this work and those are Living End decks, also running Ancestral Vision. I’m sitting this out until there’s an actual deck doing well consistently.

A note of warning, though: If this deck gets some screen time on an SCG event or a streamer takes it up, watch out. Everything in the deck will go haywire. I don’t want to place a bet on that, and I’m also keenly aware that Vision was once a $60 card:

Living End or Restore Balance showing up in a Commander product or other supplement will send prices plummeting, just be aware. I have to say, though, the $20 Iconic Masters foils of Vision are awfully tempting. It’s a safer target than the other no-mana-cost cards, because it just got reprinted, and we know for sure that if you’re running cards to exploit these cards, you definitely want to draw three for free.

Bedevil (down to $5)

This feels too cheap to me, especially as I look at Vraska’s Contempt. Yes, it’s two colors and doesn’t have incidental lifegain, which control decks love, but we also know those decks love versatility. It’s also got a bonus for being a clean answer to a planeswalker in an aggro deck, so you don’t have to waste attacks getting it off the field.

I’m not buying at $5, but I’m watching. Four dollars and I’ll be tempted, and should it get to three then I’m gleefully scooping up copies. It’s got too long to make an impact in Standard, and luckily, it’ll be in Standard for the same amount of time as the shocklands.

Cliff has been writing for MTGPrice for five years now, 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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