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

Zany Zinnia’s Zesty, Zippy Zoomies!

Bloomburrow has a prerelease in two weeks, and the previews are flowing freely. Often I’ll take a look at all the mythics, but the big price driver is Commander.

This is the first one that made me stop and think that there was a lot of good stuff coming. Birds are already blue-white, adding red doesn’t do much, but this is token greatness. 

To be fair, we don’t know what’s in Zinnia’s deck yet, so there’s some significant reprint risk. Please keep that in mind. If you want to wait on buying these until the decklist is revealed, please feel free to be cautious.

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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.

Some Big Summer Questions for Wizards of the Coast

We’re at an interesting point in the Magic calendar. Bloomburrow previews start next week, Assassin’s Creed has just landed with a thud, and the Pro Tour was filled with combo decks trying to combo past each other. Wild times!

With that in mind, there’s some big, unanswered questions that Wizards absolutely has to come up with answers to, and those answers are going to have big financial implications too.

1) Modern bans: Which, and when?

Officially, the next set of banning announcements will be in August sometime. The official announcement on June 24 said that the next one would be ‘in August’ but clearly, everyone and their cousin, plus their best friend and the random stranger across the street, they all have decided that a ban for Nadu is coming: 

I grant you that this is a rare from a big set that’s still being opened, but Nadu decks were 20% of the PT meta, 5 of the top 8, and all of the final four players standing. This was a known deck, at least in concept, and a huge swath of players chose to join the best deck than try to beat the best deck. 

Nadu decks are not going to survive much longer in their current form. The price is dropping fast, which is the opposite of what a breakout card that won a Pro Tour should do. Wizards clearly needs to do something, but what will they do? We’ve only got a few small events’ worth of data to go one since the PT, but keep in mind that the PT decks are the result of a week or two of frenzied testing. It’s reasonable to think that we haven’t hit on the ‘best’ Nadu deck yet, but the hive mind will get there.

There are three paths forward:

  1. Do nothing and let the meta sort things out for now. August is the planned banning time, so there’s no need to hurry. Let the wisdom of the group figure out answers.
  2. Emergency ban on Shuko or Springheart, two of the key enablers for the deck. Endless people have compared this to the Hogaak/Bridge from Below problem, where Wizards tries to get rid of the easy/early tools for the deck. Scute Swarm and Umbral Mantle are the first things tat come to mind, or maybe we have to add Puresteel Paladin into the mix. 
  3. Emergency ban on Nadu, Winged Wisdom. Does this overclock Mono-B or the Ruby Storm? Maybe ban with those too. 

I don’t know what they are going to do, only that something needs to get done.

2) When will Wizards learn that small standalone sets are not a good idea?

Assassin’s Creed is street-legal as of 7/5, and at this moment, there are six cards which are worth more than $10 in the regular, nonfoil frame. (I expect that to get lower in the days to come, but I can only work with current data.) Four of those are reprints and one is an Onslaught reprint, Cover of Darkness, that hasn’t gotten any new copies in 20+ years.



Aftermath was an unpopular product that did not sell well. Assassin’s Creed is selling, but not at the high velocities that other Universes Beyond products have had. It appears that the ideal model for these products is the Commander deck + Collector Booster model, and Wizards doesn’t seemed to have grasped that concept yet

3) A set for 5 years in standard?!!??!

More details are going to be coming about Foundations, the Standard supplement set that is due to be released November 15 and be legal in Standard until 2029, at least according to the early information we’ve been given. There’s going to be Jumpstart boosters, Play Boosters, and Collector Boosters. In addition, there’s a tier of entry-level product with known amounts and cards, to help new players get used to the paper game. 

Magic is an incredibly difficult game to learn, let alone master well enough for a Commander game. It takes a lot of practice, and a lot of dedicated folks helping you learn. I approve highly of making such a set, but why on earth would we have a Play and Collector booster tier of products for the starter set?

I have many questions about this set, but the main one is this: How are they going to release a product that does both of these things:

  1. Stays available for five years
  2. Keeps enough of a price for five years that vendors will buy it and players will want to open it

I genuinely don’t know how that’s accomplished. If you make it widely accessible, the value is lowered. If you have a limited run, god forbid in year three the lands in this set become expensive. I’m hopeful that there will be more information coming, but my initial thoughts are to be very very wary of this set and its design. 

4) How quickly will the next two Hatsune Miku Secret Lairs sell out?

The first was sold out in about 6 hours, maybe a little less judging by the posts in our ProTrader Discord. (I’m talking North America here, I’m aware that the EU version of the site had some product for a bit longer) The second sold out in about two hours. In a vacuum, the first set had more mediocre cards, but had better bundle pricing and bigger spending got some sweet Seedborn Muses. 

This second run had no bonus at all for bigger spenders, but had better cards (Sol Ring!) and went flying on orders. There’s no reason to think that the third and fourth drops will be immune from the same effects. The only question is if there is more of these lairs being printed. I’d give a lot to know the exact print runs for Secret Lair drops these days, but Wizards knows and they are setting the table.

I think they have most Lairs dialed in correctly. Right now, with about ten of the twenty days passed, we’re sold out of NOT A WOLF, the Miku drops, Prints of Darkness, and Da Vinci’s Designs in foil. That leaves the Julie Bell cards and the Lethal Legends, we’ll see if any of those leftovers get sold out in the last ten days. 

As I said on the cast, be ready, be logged in, and have your card ready to go. The first two went fast, and I expect the second two to go even faster now that we have the first ones selling for double the cost to buy in. 

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 Mana Math of Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed

I know the Pro Tour started early this morning, and we’ve got a lot to unpack there, but there’s a set that’s officially released on July 5: Universes Beyond: Assassin’s Creed!

This is a small set, with smaller booster packs, and a smaller print run, but if you want to know your odds of getting things in those packs (or if you should just buy the singles) then let’s sit down and do the math!

Let’s start off with the Beyond Booster, which has only 7 cards:

These boosters are not great value. Having the uncommons and commons mixed in with either of those last slots means you get some terrible odds. Here’s a quick breakdown of your foil chances in this pack. 

Rarity/Treatment (# of cards)Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of BBs to open one specific card from that category
Traditional Foil Uncommon Regular Frame (54)83.34%1.54%64.79
Traditional Foil Rare Regular Frame (26)13.67%0.53%190.20
Traditional Foil Mythic Rare Regular Frame (14)2.99%0.21%468.23
Traditional Foil Rare Borderless (2)2.50%1.25%80.00
Traditional Foil Mythic Rare Borderless (8)0.49%0.06%1632.65
Traditional Foil Rare Memory Corridor (14)1.73%0.12%809.25
Traditional Foil Mythic Rare Memory Corridor (5)0.31%0.06%1612.90

That’s right, for you to get a foil mythic rare in a special treatment, you’re going to need to open roughly 1600 of these Beyond Boosters. That’s pretty close to the drop rate for the OTP textured foils, if you want a comparison point. I’m sure that these are neat to open, but these are also pretty lackluster when it comes to value. 

Collector Boosters are now a staple for Magic, and this one has a lower number of cards than most others.

First of all, the chase-est of cards are the four serialized cards. There’s only 500 of each card, so 2000 total serialized to go after. They are avoiding giving us the exact rarity, as they did with The One Ring, because that data point unlocks a whole lot of additional information for us: number of packs, how many copies of a card exist, things like that. So I’m forced into the realm of guesswork and estimation: Based on what we hear from sellers and distributors, plus the likely print run after Fallout, we’re looking at around 1.5 million packs, which means you’ve got a 0.13% chance of pulling any serialized card. That’ll take you about 769 packs to open for any card, and roughly 3,076 packs for a specific one of the four. 

Let’s start off with the traditional foil slot, which thankfully has only rares and mythics. 

Rarity/Treatment (# of cards)Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Traditional Foil Rare (32)82.05%2.56%39.00
Traditional Foil Mythic Rare (14) 17.95%1.28%77.99

That’s not too bad, it tracks with the drop rate in other Collector Boosters. 

The EA nonfoil slot is pretty easy, since you’re 97% to get a rare and 3% to get the one EA mythic rare. Every 33 packs you should nab that card (Temporal Trespass) and the others will be every 16 packs, making them a much more common drop than the traditional foils.

Now I want to skip to the last slot, the foil-etched, before getting into that ‘everything all at once’ slot before it. Handily, the numbers are exactly the same as the traditional foil slot. 

Rarity/Treatment (# of cards)Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Etched Foil Rare (32)82.05%2.56%39.00
Etched Foil Mythic Rare (14) 17.95%1.28%77.99

Before you start thinking that the etched foils and the traditional foils should have the same price, please keep in mind that traditional foils can be found in the Beyond Boosters, whereas etched is exclusive to the Collector Boosters.

Finally, the big slot with traditional foils, textured foils, and double rainbow, to go with borderless, memory corridor, and extended art versions. 

Rarity/Treatment (# of cards)Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Traditional Foil Borderless Rare (2)4.95%2.48%40.40
Traditional Foil Borderless Mythic Rare (8)9.91%1.24%80.73
Traditional Foil Memory Corridor Rare (14)34.67%2.48%40.38
Traditional Foil Memory Corridor Mythic Rare (5)6.19%1.24%80.78
Traditional Foil Extended-Art Rare (16)39.62%2.48%40.38
Traditional Foil Extended-Art Mythic Rare (1)1.24%1.24%80.65
Textured Foil Memory Corridor Mythic Rare (5)3.25%0.65%153.85
Double Rainbow Foil Serialized Borderless (4)0.13%0.0325%3,076

Now you might be thinking, ‘holy cats, that’s just 80 packs to get some of the rarest cards!’ and compared to other Collector Booster sets, you’d be right. Even the 153 packs for a serialized card is not that rare, compared to the collation shenanigans that Wizards has done to Collector Boosters in the past. (Remember, the textured OTP were 1 in 1500 packs!)

The ‘easier to find’ math has to balance out with the ‘shorter print run’ math, and with Assassin’s Creed being a smaller run, we’re going to see a glut early on, and then other cards get hot. Assassin specs should light up from time to time, especially because these are all Modern legal. 

If you have questions about the math, or my methods, please reach out in the comments, on Twitter, or in 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.

Evaluating the 2024 Summer Superdrop

On Monday, we get the Summer Superdrop for 2024, and there are six drops we need to discuss. Some details are as yet unknown, but we know the cards and the prices, and from there, we can make some plans. Let’s get to it!

One thing to note is that for these drops, we aren’t expecting reprints of the cards after this for a while. Some of these will get new versions, maybe even new premium versions. Much depends on the looks and the play patterns, so think and buy accordingly.

Hatsune Miku’s second act, Digital Sensation, is the big one in this drop:

This is a strong set of cards. The first Miku drop was anchored by Azusa, Lost but Seeking, and that’s a card with many premium printings. This is the very first borderless treatment for Diabolic Tutor (143k decks on EDHREC), Chord of Calling (112k) and Child of Alara (4k as commander) and Thespian’s Stage (106k) and Song of Creation (5000 decks) only have one extended-art version to be special with. Sol Ring should be its own category of promos and special printings, and there’s blessed few premium versions not holding at least a $5 price.

The first Miku drop sold out in less than six hours and right now, here’s the prices for the four that were offered: 

Nonfoil English$60
Nonfoil Japanese$32
Foil English$78
Foil Japanese$42

It’s quite rare for a drop to have a high price just as it’s landing in hand, so people are trying hard to cash out of the English versions, and are willing to break even/small loss on the JP copies. The Japanese-language copies also have less listed on TCGPlayer, and I expect that’s because plenty of folks who want to get their profit on the EN versions aren’t bothering to put up the underpriced ones yet. I expect the Japanese ones to start ticking up soon, as the urgent sellers get cleaned out.

With this being the second drop, I am doubtful that WotC has been able to get more copies of this printed than was done for the first drop. This should sell out again and should be your priority target when the bundles are revealed Monday morning.

There is a theme Wizards goes to: A SL dedicated to a certain theme/style/Commander deck. Here’s the Prossh deck. It’s a great lair in terms of ‘cards with high play that don’t have premium treatments’ and even if you don’t play Prossh (10k decks, half as Commander), these are worthy cards. Mayhem Devil (93k), Dictate of Erebos (90k), Moldervine Reclamation (80k), and Fecundity (20k) are all at least playable, and with this treatment, I think the lair and the singles should do well if left alone, and I’ll be getting a couple of these Lairs on Monday.

It’s okay if you don’t think the NOT A WOLF ALL CAPS bit is funny. Again, this is a SL targeted at Werewolf players, of whom there’s a surprising amount. Tovolar is the #56 commander of all time on EDHREC, and that’s a strong number until they print something better for the shapeshifters. Beastmaster Ascension is the star here, being in just under 110k decks and having no premium version before. This is the second sweet version of Second Harvest, which is in 93k decks and doubles up on noncreature tokens. My big worry on this otherwise solid drop is that Tovolar, Caretaker, and Second Harvest are likely inclusions in Innistrad Remastered at the beginning of 2025, and that means these prices will take that much longer to go up (if ever). I likely won’t be getting much of this Lair.

Someone at WotC must listen to MTG Fast Finance, because James and I have been decrying for years that the Artist Spotlight drops were confined to the regular frame. That hasn’t been the case recently, and I’m so very thankful. Three of these cards have never gotten premium treatments before: Soul Warden (100k), Good-Fortune Unicorn (24k), and Elves of Deep Shadow (107k) have always been locked into the regular frame. The Elf and the Cleric have pretty broad appeal, and should hold up nicely. Coat of Arms (86k) was a Special Guest-style inclusion for LCI, and is currently over $20 for that printing. Shivan Dragon is iconic as heck but has plenty of special printings, so I’m not expecting much there. I plan to get a couple of this drop.

This drop, and the next, were publicized as being available for a month in late July, to coordinate a little better with the releases coming out for that franchise, but thankfully it’s been moved up to this drop. Najeela (18k, 10k as Commander) has an etched foil to go with the 40K Secret Lair version from two years ago. Queen Marchesa (25k, 11k as Commander, #42 all-time) has the same thing, a SL in 2022 and an etched foil, but all of those are still inexpensive and this will keep it that way. Ramses, Assassin Lord recently spiked but this should help bring it back to ground. Admiral Brass (12k decks, half as Commander) got a SL Showcase version last year that is also pretty cheap, and Kelsien doesn’t matter at all. A very uninspiring drop overall, and one I’ll likely avoid. 

I am into this, but I’m not sure others will be. Blade of Selves (62k) has a FEA from CLB, Flail (32k) has an etched foil that’s over $20, Deathrender (6k) is worth a couple bucks, Darksteel Plate (72k) also has a $20+ etched version, and Whispersilk Cloak (168k) has the special LCI printing pushing $10. We also know that the special inclusion here is Haystack, a white artifact that gives you the chance to phase out a creature for two mana and a tap. For decks that want to keep a creature around, that’s a pretty awesome card. I’m in for this drop, and will be buying accordingly. I understand that the script, the lack of a traditional frame, these are viewed as drawbacks by some, but mainly I like sweet versions of widely played cards.

So to review, here’s my choices, in order:

#1Hatsune Miku: Sakura Superstar
#2 Da Vinci’s Designs
#3Prints of Darkness
#4Featuring: Julie Bell
#5NOT A WOLF
#6Lethal Legends

The big unknowns that we won’t see till early Monday (please check your local timezone) is the bundling and the presence of a spending bonus. Sometimes the bonus is a big deal, like Ignoble Hierarch or the Seedborn Muse. Sometimes it’s a couple of extra Collector Boosters. We just don’t know yet. 

We also don’t know the exact percentages for bundles, and that should be somewhere between 10-15% if previous patterns hold. I will need large discounts or very sweet cards to make me buy all-foil bundles, because the NOT A WOLF and the Lethal Legends are just not worth an extra $80 to me. I am currently planning on getting a couple of all-Miku bundles (those were available last time, I expect it again) and then an additional few copies of the foil English Miku drop, plus personal copies of Prints and Julie Bell. If the bonus card or discounts change, my purchasing might change too.

Keep an eye on the Discord for updates as we go, and make sure you are logged into everything ahead of time for the drop. Good luck!

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.