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

When Nothing Is Worth It

Right now, presuming the Collector Booster is $20, there aren’t a lot of cards that you can hit to make it worthwhile. I’ll give you the list in a moment, but first let’s talk about what to do when a set isn’t being opened very well, and the opportunities that represents. Plus, some cards that you ought to have in reserve for later.

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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.

The Followers of the Pack

Right now, one card, with two versions, is soaking up most of the value of Kaldheim packs, and yes, it’s Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. It’s been a while since we had a set that was underwhelming financially, and it’s worth discussing what happens to everything else in the set and how we got to this point.

Vorinclex has hit his low price, and from here, I expect it to trend steadily upwards: 

The Phyrexian version is more common than the Showcase version, because packs in every language can end up with a Phyrexian-language Vorinclex. The demand is that much higher, though, as evidenced by such a high pre-order price for the nonfoil.

Kaldheim still has some cards that are nice to find in a booster pack, but past the top handful, it gets pretty rough. The last time we had a set with an effect like this, it was the Masterpieces. I’m thinking of both the Inventions from Kaladesh block and the Invocations from Amonkhet block.

When there’s a chase version of a card every X packs/boxes, it depresses the prices of the other cards. Phyrexian foil Vorinclex is going for $300 and rising, which means at distributor prices, you need to open one of those at a certain rate to make it worthwhile. It was worth it for the Masterpieces, which were more common as a set than Phyrexian foil Vorinclex, but it’s not quite there yet.

It will be, though. The demand is real from Commander players and collectors who want the hottest things from each set, regardless of price. It doesn’t take a lot of those folks to really move the needle, and that’s how we get FEA Jeweled Lotus at prices that are consistently rising:

So what do we do, when there’s a high-value singleton and everything else is falling in price as expected? We should prepare for the rest of the cards to keep falling as the star rises, and adjust expectations accordingly.

It also needs to be said that while the set has a lot of good cards, there’s a noticeable shift in power level, away from the tremendousness that was most of the past year and all of the bans that happened are testament to that power level. Kaldheim isn’t a bad set, it’s just that there’s very few cards which compare favorably to the sets that came before. 

With all the interest on the top few cards, there’s a few cards I’ve got my eye on and I’m hoping that they fall to a target price. I’m prepared for them to not fall that far, but the combination of lower power and leftover financial interest means they’ve got farther to go.

Reflections of Littjara – Currently at $1.50 for the regulars and falling, this is a card that every tribal deck should give serious thought to. It’s part of the class of Commander cards that say ‘I don’t do anything right now, but I’m about to make the table groan in disgust and envy.’ I like this card a lot in the long term, but I’m fully willing to be patient for this to creep down to a dollar for the regular version. There’s a promo foil from the Kaldheim bundle, and that’s available for $2 or less, but that isn’t borderless foil. Once these sink lower, I think they will be an excellent long term hold.

Maskwood Nexus – This isn’t as cheap,with regulars being $2.50 and the FEA versions pushing $10, but the effect is real and this being colorless means it’s a backup to the decks playing Conspiracy, Arcane Adaptation, or both. The early adopters all have their copies, and now we’re in the waiting game for the rest of them to fall in price. Arcane Adaptation doubled in a year, and while I don’t think this will go to $20 that fast, I do think it’ll trickle down to $7 or even $5 and that’s really when I want to pick up a few copies.

The World Tree – Obvious cards are obvious, and this is no exception. It has to go into five-color decks but that’s the sort of deck that really needs fixing that’s as simple as playing a tapped land. This has come down notably since the beginning of the set:

It’s flattened out for now but I’m letting this cool down even more. I grabbed a personal copy already but the spec copies I’m being patient on the rest of the copies I want to get. I don’t know how much farther down they will go in full-art foil, but I’m more intrigued by the regular copies at $3 or so. I don’t think it’s a reprint risk, either, even if they do a five-color Commander deck I doubt it would be in there.

Mystic Reflection – There are a lot of meme-level interactions with this card, and that’s the only reason that I can think of for this to still be as expensive as it is. It’s not a huge Commander card, though it’s got lots of amusing interactions. Frankly, this feels like it should be a bulk rare, and that’s the sort of price I want to get in on. This being about $14 for the foil full art is especially confusing, and I definitely do not want to be buying a card with no obvious uses.

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.

When to Buy New Cards

This week I want to address something that I get asked a whole lot: “Should I buy {card from the new set} now, or should I wait?”

This has a semi-complicated answer, and requires you to have done some thinking about the card first. My method is not foolproof, but will get you what you want in almost all cases. Let’s get into the specifics and the pitfalls.

To be clear, this is my process that I apply to newly released cards that are getting a lot of hype. This isn’t about reprinted cards (buy after three months) or Reserved List cards (if it didn’t spike already, it’s a buy) but only about new, in pack cards. This does apply to reprint sets like Double Masters, as well as combination sets like Commander Legends.

The first thing I need you to think about is why you’re buying the cards. Are you going to put it in your cube/Commander/Standard/whatever format deck immediately, or are you buying speculative copies?

If it’s for personal use, I suggest you get your copies within the first two or three weeks. Let the frenzy die down, but wait until people have had the chance to open their personal boxes, the stuff they preordered but couldn’t ship until the official opening day. That time frame is about right for the new things to fall from the preorder prices, but short enough before scarcity starts to pump prices up.

Let’s look at an example from the recent past: Jeweled Lotus in Foil Extended Art.

We had a couple of weeks in there where the price crept down under $400, despite crazy preorders. The immediate frenzy had a chance to die down, and keep in mind that this was one of the rarest cards in packs, needing approximately 400 Collector Boosters to come up with one copy. The second that prices started to go up, and the FOMO kicked in, it went up several hundred more, and frankly, it’s going to keep creeping upward with every copy sold.

Now, this philosophy only applies to the cards that are the most sought after, which isn’t always the rarest version of a card. The other FEA mythics from Commander Legends are exactly as common as the FEA Lotus, but demand plus cachet mean that Soulfire Eruption is $7 as an FEA, when the Jeweled Lotus is $750+.

The card I’m thinking of right now is the foil Phyrexian Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. Preordering for $400+, it’s dipped under $200 on TCG and there’s a lot under $250.

If you want one for a deck (and you know you do, it’s even better than Doubling Season when it comes to planeswalkers) then I strongly advocate that you do so now. The price is right and I totally sympathize with the desire to get the card right now and put it into the deck (or decks) that want it badly. I think you should go ahead and snap up the Phyrexian foil now, or in the next 1-2 weeks, before the price shoots back up. Too many cards are spiking too hard, and this is the hot card of the moment. Please don’t clever yourself out of what you want.

When picking up cards for speculative purposes, though, I don’t like to acquire the big cards for hopes of gains in the same timeframe. I advocate more patience. The greatest supply on a card is almost always 2-4 months after release, when the next big set comes out. The rest of Commander Legends is in this phase, and there are some excellent deals to be had if you’ve been patient. Yes, a couple of cards spiked back up, like FEA Apex Devastator, but for the most part, prices have dropped back down.

Now, there are potential issues with my plan. In some cases, when you buy your personal copy before the first month is over, it’ll fall farther. This happened to me with the FEA version of Hellkite Courser, an amazing addition to my The Ur-Dragon deck.

I bought a copy the first week for about $35. I should have been more patient, and saved myself $10. It’s come up a little in price from that low point, because FEA mythics were never really in huge supply from this set, but my eagerness cost me a little cash. Not a ruinous amount, but it stings. This is a risk I’m taking on because I just don’t want to wait. I want to have the new cool card in my deck RIGHT NOW!

Just as moving too soon can be a bad thing and cause me to overpay early, moving too late can mean I pay more as well. This is harder to evaluate ahead of time, but it tends to track with how playable a card is in the format it’s aimed at. 

The example here would be Jeska’s Will:

If I’d moved in on the two-week plan, instead of expecting this to hit the lowest point at three months, then I could have made a lot of money in a very short period of time. Many people did, and have made their money, but this is the risk I take in moving too slowly.

One more thing about the distinction between personal copies and spec copies: We don’t tend to worry too much about the cost of the sweet card we put into a Commander deck, at least as it comes to new cards. Is it the version we wanted? Okay, great, get in there and let’s do some work. Commander is the intersection of collecting and playing, with the delicious topping of being able to show off the collection while playing.

When it comes to your personal copies, I’m a strong advocate of getting what you want right away. Don’t mess around trying to save a couple of dollars. Go get what you want, and then enjoy the feeling of that acquisition. You’re gaining value left and right with all the help from our site and our Discord, you deserve to get that sweet card.

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.

Commander Legends Pickups

Kaldheim is available to be bought today, and while people are going to get their preorder product and crack it in a fervor of foil and new-card smell, I want to look at the most expensive stuff that’s been printed since War of the Spark gave us the Amano Liliana: Commander Legends. Jeweled Lotus has all the attention, but there’s a lot of very good cards in the set that you should stock up on before it becomes too expensive.

First of all, I want to talk a little about the composition of the Collector Boosters. The main thing is that there are dedicated slots for the uncommon etched foils and the rare/mythic etched foils. These aren’t commonplace exactly, but they don’t have the 30% chance of upgrading that the Extended Art cards had. That means it’ll take that much longer for the etched foils to take off, generally speaking. Some of them are already pricey, but it’s important to know that there’s a lot more etched foils in circulation than there are Extended Art/Foil Extended Art. 

Thrasios, Triton Hero (etched foil) – $26 – This price comes after a high of $80 during 2020, the reprint couldn’t have come along better for the little merfolk who makes you want to flip the table:

There’s nothing that UG decks love more than ramping and drawing, and Thrasios gives you the chance to do both at once. When he’s on the table, you know it requires an answer, but next thing you know, there’s a Training Grounds and a Heartstone out and you watch this player get six more lands into play before untapping and doing irritating things. Thrasios made a lot of sense as an expensive card because it was featured in the Commander 2016 set, no one had extras. We’re at maximum supply for Thrasios, and the really powerful thing is the Partner mechanic. Add whatever colors you’d like to this card and the deck you’re building, just go to town. 

We know how expensive Thrasios can be, and this remains one of the most deceptively powerful Simic Commanders, not least because dying once or twice doesn’t affect the mana too terribly. It’ll start rising soon, and before summer 2022, it’ll be $50 again.

Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow (etched foil) – $11 – What’s really appealing here is that the etched foil is competing with the Judge foil. That has fallen to about $14, down nearly $10 since the reprint. There aren’t quite enough Ninjas for an all-Ninja deck, but you can build a sweet deck and there is always the chance of more Ninjas (like in Modern Horizons) or a return to Kamigawa. When that happens, supply on this will vanish, and I would want to have a few of these ready to go.

Reliquary Tower (FEA) – $6 – The pack foil from Conflux is two bucks more, and the FNM is slightly more than that, but this has a huge Commander demand baked in, though there’s a whole lot of foil versions to choose from. This is the only special frame, and I want the foil version to make the shiny-hunters happy. I can’t predict when this will be the most expensive one, but that’s only a matter of time.

Seraphic Greatsword (FEA)/Profane Transfusion(FEA)/Soulfire Eruption(FEA) – $7 – These are the three cheapest FEA mythics from the set, and this would be pure speculation. We know how expensive these FEA mythics can be, thanks to Jeweled Lotus, which makes these a fascinating pick. The red and black ones have much lower stock on TCG, but the Greatsword has a ton of very optimistic listings on TCGplayer. If you pick these up, you’re doing so out of pure hope and recognizing the scarcity of these cards. 

Phyrexian Triniform (FEA) – $15 – So far, only about 1000 people have listed this in their Commander decks on EDHREC, but I’m looking at things like Darksteel Colossus and artifact-based decks, because this enables a lot of fun combos or represents enormous value with the 3/3 creatures that get left behind. Again, FEA mythics from this set are crazy rare, getting one of a particular mythic about every 400 packs. If you might want one, it’s time to hurry up and get it. The high casting cost doesn’t faze me, there’s a ten-mana card that’s already jumped $20 since the set came out:

So yeah, get your Triniform whilst you can.

Arcane Signet (FEA) – $26 – As much of a staple as staples can be, I like this card but I’m very certain it gets a reprint in FEA at some point. Will it have the same art? If it’s the same art, it’ll fall pretty far, like what happened to FEA Fabled Passage. Nearly $100 when the reprint hit in Core 2021, now reduced to $25. If the art is different, it’ll be a decision between preferences, and then who knows? Again, I think you get your personal copies now while they are cheap, but don’t try to stock up too hard on these.

Return to Dust (FEA) – $1.50 – Finally, let’s look at a card which is in 28,000 decks online, has only two foils, and this is the only special frame. A buck and a half is a crazy low price for this, given that only one out of every 2.5 packs had any of the FEA uncommons, but here we are. It’s not the cheapest, that honor goes to Humble Defector and likely always will, but this is the best version of this staple. Time Spiral is the original foil, that’s $10, but that’s also a set with a tiny supply and so many years of copies being lost/damaged. This is the first foil since then, and copies aren’t yet being snapped up but time will tell on this. Picking up a brick of these now is a no-brainer, in anticipation of the inevitable rise up towards the price of the original foil.

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.