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

Pro Tour? In This Economy?

Normally, we have to wait until during the weekend for Pro Tour decks to come out, for us to get access to the top information. Those days are gone, because decklists are due Wednesday night, and Thursday, we get metagame information.

With this information in hand, and the rest of Karsten’s article here, we can look ahead and figure out what to buy if the Pro Tour is back and if Pioneer is really really a thing. 

For the record, I think it is, and not just because of my previous specs.

Decklists will go up Friday afternoon local time, around when Pioneer play starts. Everyone’s list will be published, in order to minimize the advantage bigger testing teams used to get by watching lots of matches, recording data, and feeding it to others on their team. Big, skilled teams still get great practice and advice, but more information is a good thing.

We’re told the top cards across all decks: “The most-played nonland cards across all main decks and sideboards were Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Thoughtseize, Fatal Push, Llanowar Elves, Elvish Mystic, and Bonecrusher Giant.”

I’ve been skeptical about how much higher Fable can go, but it’s already in need of a reprint and it is a Standard-legal rare. One card represents two creatures and a rummage for two cards, which we’ve established is already redonk good. 

Yes, you could have gotten in at extremely low prices early on, and several of our ProTraders did. However, I think that only a reprint can cool this card off. It’s a top spell in Pioneer, very good in Modern, and it has a more than respectable 19,500 decks listed on EDHREC. It might dip down a little as we come up to its rotation out of Standard, but I won’t be shocked to see this rise till its reprint arrives.

Thoughtseize is a different story. It’s got a massive amount of reprints, multiple premium editions, and while it’s a staple in Modern and Pioneer alike, there would have to be a massive surge of interest to crank prices higher. Even if they did go up, Wizards has shows a willingness to reprint this into the ground. I’d stay away here, as well as from Fatal Push, a card with a similar ‘too many cooks’ problem.

The Elf cards are intriguing. One-mana dorks will always have a place in decks looking to get out fast, and there’s some specific targetable versions that I can see going in for. These elves also have the bonus that when you go for these cards, you’re getting a matching playset, not just a singleton. If these decks get a lot of attention and put up some results, watch out for prices to go up.

Llanowar Elves has a sweet Secret Lair version that might be the right nonfoil choice. There’s a ton of copies, it being a recent lair, but my eye is really on the foil Dominaria promo versions. Larger art, simplified frame, very unique while still being a Magic card, and not a huge number of copies out there. Elvish Mystic has some awesome choices for art, but if you’re betting on tournament play you might want to target the Time Spiral Remastered retro non-foils for around $7 each. One vendor has 33 copies as of this writing, but the overall quantity is small, especially if you’re counting by four. 

I’ve extolled Bonecrusher Giant before, and I’ll say it again: a spell this popular probably shouldn’t be this cheap.

We did get extras in one of the CLB precon decks, and that plus inclusion on The List has been enough to keep the price in check. We’ll see if a reprint comes soon, though.

There’s one more set of cards worth calling out: the fastlands. These are new to Pioneer and are among the most popular cards this weekend. Right now, the BR and RG ones are on top but all of them will have their place in the sun. I love picking up your playsets of foil or nonfoil ZNR Expeditions right now, because the while borderless ones are cool, these are cooler.

Supply is also pretty light here, so get in there and get what you can at under $20 before a few playsets sell and you’re looking at $30-$40 a copy. 

The different archetype decks will highlight what certain cards can do, but I want to talk about one more card that perfectly shows both what a card can do and why you want to sell into the spikes: Indomitable Creativity.

The current iterations of this deck use some generated tokens before casting this at x=2, hitting the only two creatures in the deck: Worldspine Wurm and Xenagos, God of Revels, giving them a 30/30 trample crashing in that leaves behind three 5/5 tokens if you kill it without an exile effect. The rest of the deck is a UR control-type list, very reactive and ready to interact with your game plan.

The namesake card hit big, as you can see, but within a couple weeks prices had come back down to pre-spike levels. I think this is an excellent candidate to be in a Secret Lair soon, but we’ve got at least a month left on the current drop and the Pro Tour is this weekend. Hitting your opponent for 30 hasty trample damage is the stuff of Magic players’ dreams, and if the deck performs well, I think you’ll see this card spike hard yet again. 

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.

Presale Movement From Phyrexia: All Will Be One

Today, Phyrexia: All Will Be One becomes legal on TCGPlayer, and I’m expecting quite a frenzy around a few very specific cards. 

This past week, we had that nebulous zone between prerelease and Opening Day, where the only cards that can be sold are the ones individuals opened in the prerelease events. Store-level vendors weren’t allowed to sell yet, everything is pre-ordered and cannot be shipped yet.

As a result, cards have stayed very expensive and some cards have gotten a frenzy of attention. Let’s go over some of the bigger movers, and a pickup or two, as well as where I’m expecting them to go from here.

A generalized caveat: I always tell people to sell/trade everything they open at the prerelease level. There is a lot of money to be made doing that, and almost everything is going to lose a lot of value. We don’t have to go very far for examples of this, but let’s take a card with a lot of hype:

Ajani, Sleeper Agent in regular nonfoil has dropped by more than half even after we started tracking in September, but some of the pre-order prices in August were north of $30! So get rid of things while you can.

Now, as for the new set, let’s take a peek at what’s gone up this week as hype cycles have happened.

Mercurial Spelldancer has gotten Legacy attention as a great way to get ridiculous value over and over again. It’s already decent as a two-mana, two-power unblockable creature, but in a format overloaded with cheap noncreature spells (and this includes Modern) it’s just about casting Ponder and Bolt, it’s about using Mishra’s Bauble and other such broken cards to set up a copied huge spell, and I’m here for that. 

This card went from about $3 to $11+, and as a rare, it’s about to have a lot of copies opened. If you get $7 this weekend I’ll be impressed, but I’m willing to bet that this is back under $4 within two weeks. Sell like mad!

Vraska, Betrayal’s Sting was under $10 at one point recently but is now going for $25 because it’s an instant-win with Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. If Vorinclex is on your field, and you play Vraska, she comes in with twelve counters and can instantly ultimate. If a player has anything less than nine poison, they are going to be poisoned out. Eight counters means they get one more, which Vorinclex doubles to two, giving them ten and that’s GG.

Two-card combos are usually not a problem in Commander, or even Modern. Splinter Twin remains illegal in Modern, mainly because both Pestermite and Exarch flash in and tap the land you could use for interaction.The Copy Cat combo is legal in Modern, and that’s three mana into four. This is five mana into six, and the five mana part can be attacked to death before the combo happens. 

Vraska is a mythic, but there’s still going to be a lot opened and her price will tumble back to $15, and eventually be under $10 again.

Venerated Rotpriest is clearly a combo card, and one that works with a lot of different cards to combo an opponent out. Ground Rift is a current favorite, as the Storm mechanic lets you build up a critical mass very quickly. There won’t be a shortage of busted things to do here, especially when Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief is a card too. 

I expect this to keep riding a rollercoaster. It’s already been up to $20, down to $12, and is now $15. It’ll drop down to $5 or so, but the good news for this card’s value is that people who play it want four copies. Every new combo with the card will result in it popping up, then retracing downward. Be prepared to sell into spikes.

The Mycosynth Gardens has gotten a lot of attention for being an easy way to copy Lion’s Eye Diamond, for decks able to take advantage of that. If you can recur the land, it keeps working, because it’s zero to activate the ability and the LED can still be used even if it’s tapped.

While a neat interaction, it’s remarkably narrow. LED is restricted in paper Vintage, though it is Legacy and Commander legal. Given how many decks are running Urza’s Saga in Modern, I won’t be shocked if this sees a little play there too, just to get more and more value from lands. Unfortunately, these corner cases are not enough to prop up the price, which started at $15, fell to $6, and is now about $10. A very steep decline is coming for this card, and you should prepared accordingly.

One precognitive note, though: When this gets cheap (I mean like a buck in six months) I’m going to pick up a brick of these. The Dark Depths/Thespian’s Stage combo is an example of how open-ended synergies can work out, and some artifact that comes into play with counters and needs those counters removed…combo kill! Can’t wait to see what it does. It’s already very good in Commander if you run Mana Crypt and Sol Ring. Please note that it stops being a land when you activate it, unless you copy an artifact land.

Jace, the Perfected Mind is my pick for a card that has the best chance to go up right away. Control decks crave exactly this interaction, an early way to nullify one of their creatures and force the opponent to build up a wider board, setting up for the Supreme Verdict next turn. 

JaceTPM has trickled downward from $15 to $8, and if enough control decks adopt him for the midgame, he’s got a good chance to rise up. I don’t think he’ll be the next Ledger Shredder or anything, but this is a very very good blue Planeswalker in control shells.

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.

Expectations for Pro Tour ONE

I know it seems odd to be writing about the Pro Tour in two weeks, when the new set is out now.

My financial advice for people playing in prerelease events remains the same as always: Sell it all. Find someone who wants your lands. Move it and don’t wait around. Someone will see the sweet foil you opened and want to trade for it right now, not realizing (or not caring) that it’ll be 1/3 the price in two weeks.

So whatever you can move, right now, do that.

As for the Pro Tour in Philadelphia, on Feb 17-19, that’s a more complicated plan.

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.

To learn how ProTrader can benefit YOU, click here to watch our short video.

expensive cards ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

The Math of Phyrexia: All Will Be One

Welcome back to this ongoing series of attempts to calculate exactly how lucky the luckiest pulls are for every set with Collector Boosters.

Phyrexia: All Will Be One (hereafter written as ONE) has some very interesting formulations, and every slot appears to have a variation in distribution. Thankfully, Wizards has given us a lot more information about ONE than they have for previous sets, making my task both easier and more difficult.

So let’s get into it, and calculate exactly our odds for opening certain packs, then compare those rates with chase cards from previous expansions.

All of today’s math will come from the Collecting Phyrexia: All Will Be One article, or explained using that math as a basis. That article has specific percentages, which I’ll copy over.

Also, we need to refer to this image to talk about what slot has what:

We are going to focus on the step-and-compleat slot, and the final slot with all of the Booster Fun treatments. 

All of the numbers we’ve been given are percentages that have been rounded, and that’s a source of error I can’t control for.

In the Step-and Compleat slot, we’re given these percentages: “There are 6 commons (38%), 7 uncommons (29%), 26 rares (22%), and 28 mythic rares (11%)” Normally, I’d talk about the distribution of 10:3:1:0.5 that Draft Boosters have, but that math doesn’t work out. What we do know is that the cards which appear the least, the 28 mythics, make up 11% of your potential pulls.

What we do is multiply the percentage by the number of potential cards. In this case, that’s 11% times 1/28 to get a chance of 0.39% for a certain mythic. In terms of packs opened, you need to divide the denominator by the numerator, also known as taking the reciprocal. That gives you approximately 254.5 packs to open a certain mythic.

Let’s make this into a table for the Step-and-Compleat categories:

Step-and-Compleat FoilsPercent 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
Mythic Rare28%0.39%254.5

One thing we need to pay attention to: There are multiple versions of cards available in this slot, such as four different Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines with this foil treatment. You’ve got the same odds to pull any variation from the slot. 

The other important slot is the final one, that compares everything possible except for the Step-and-Compleat versions. This includes something we usually don’t get: Foil Extended-Art versions of Commander and Jumpstart cards. Now here, we’ve been given some percentages for individual variations, rather than the overall number like we’re used to. As an example, we get “5 mythic rare Phyrexian-language planeswalkers (3%)” in the nonfoil slot. Because the nonfoil slot makes up 51% of the distribution of cards in the foil slot, I’m going to go ahead and run these rates in another table, taking the nonfoil rates and multiplying by .51:

Nonfoil Booster Fun TreatmentPercent 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
5 rare borderless “fast lands” 13%2.6%38.4
16 rare borderless ichor cards41%2.54%39.3
10 rare borderless manga cards25%2.5%40
10 mythic rare borderless ichor cards13%1.3%76.9
5 mythic rare borderless manga planeswalkers3%0.6%166.7
5 mythic rare Phyrexian-language planeswalkers3%0.6%166.7
5 mythic rare borderless concept praetors2%0.4%250
Borderless Elesh Norn by Junji Ito<1%0.2%500
Phyrexian-language Elesh Norn<1%0.2%500

The estimate of 500 packs is because Elesh Norn has two extra variants, the borderless manga and the Phyrexian, that the other Praetors don’t have in this set. Five variants in one set! 

(If you really want the math: All copies of all variants for one card should be equal to all variants of another card at the same rarity. Since Elesh Norn has two extra variants, I split the rarity for the borderless concept Praetors, as those are all add-ins to this set. When we get to foils, these will be plenty rare enough. If I get more concrete data, fromWizards or large operations, I will update this and the running tally.)

Now we’re basically going to take everything in this table and multiply by .51, because we’re told that for foils, 49% of that slot is the extended-art rares from the set, plus select extended-art Commander and Jumpstart foils. They don’t tell us exactly which are foil options in the article, which is incredibly frustrating. When I have better information there, I will update the section about the FEA cards. There’s no FEA mythics in the main set this time around either–they all got one of the other variant frames.

So here’s the table with everything you can get in that slot, along with my estimates for the FEA cards.

Foil Booster Fun TreatmentPercent 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
5 rare borderless “fast lands”6.63%1.33%75.41
16 rare borderless ichor cards20.91%1.30%77.20
10 rare borderless manga cards12.75%1.28%78.43
10 mythic rare borderless ichor cards6.63%0.66%150.83
5 mythic rare borderless manga planeswalkers1.53%0.31%326.80
5 mythic rare Phyrexian-language planeswalkers1.53%0.31%326.80
5 mythic rare borderless concept praetors1.02%0.20%490.20
Borderless Elesh Norn by Junji Ito0.10%0.10%980.39
Phyrexian-language Elesh Norn0.10%0.10%980.39
FEA Main Set Rares23.89%0.82%121.43
FEA JMP/Commander Rares23.06%0.82%121.43
FEA JMP/Commander Mythics2.06%0.41%242.85

Again, as I find out which FEAs are an option and which aren’t, I’ll update this table. This is the rarest possible outcome for the FEA rares/mythics, your odds will only get better from here.

I have also updated the Comprehensive Collection of Relative Rarities, so that you can sort out what the rarest pulls ever are. These special Elesh Norns are pretty high on that list!

As always, if you notice errors or want to talk about my methods, please reach out in the comments or 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.