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

A Few Buys Before The Brothers’ War

We’re a week or two away from having all the cards in Brothers’ War previewed, and when that happens I can break down some exact percentages for the main set and Artifact Archive. There’s a lot of things going on with that set of cards and I am eager to pick some of them up, especially in double-rainbow-numbered-editions.

However, before we can get all those previews, there’s a few other buying opportunities here that are worth highlighting. Some are staples worth getting at a low price, some are speculative based on future happenings, and of course, there’s awesome things in an awesome frame.

I’ve highlighted the cheapest and most expensive versions for these cards, as there’s a lot of options to choose from. For each of these, I’ll be clear about the edition I think you should pick up, but you’re free to evaluate as you will. I’ve also put down the EDHREC inclusion rate, and that data comes with a caveat: It’s data that comes from the most online group, the most connected group. It doesn’t do a good job showing the desires of kitchen table players, and it has a bias towards cards that were in a preconstructed deck. It’s useful data, but we need to be aware of its limitations.

Teferi’s Protection ($20 for cheapest version, $53 for the most expensive, 141k EDHREC) – It’s an impressive card that gets around just about all the bad things that can happen in Commander, and it’s at its cheapest ever:

The Mystical Archive printing in 2021 hit the price hard, but the card recovered within a year. Double Masters 2022 is knocking it down again, and it’s possible that the cheapest versions trickle down another dollar or two. There’s a lot of 2×2 I’m waiting on, to see if we’re really at the bottom.

Given the choices available, I’m fond of the Japanese-language alternate art from the Archive, both because it looks cool and it’s quite rare. Foils are $50 or so, but that’s down from the $100 they started out at. I don’t know if I’d be able to pick from the many versions that are $18-$20 right now and say ‘This will be the one that grows fastest!’ Instead, I want to have a premium version and be patient. We’re definitely at max supply, and this is an incredibly popular card. Proceed accordingly.

Demonic Tutor ($35 to several grand for the Alpha, 250k on EDHREC) – The tutor that all tutors are measured against, this is another card that was ascending pretty high but got hit with a Mystical Archive printing. 

It feels silly to list the EDHREC rank of this card, because if you have one, you’re playing it. At two mana, this gets you exactly the card you need and likely playing it that turn. Don’t be too proud to use it for the mana you need! 

I would advocate you buy these cheap UMA copies now. The Mystical Archive copies are also worth considering, as they are unique, but this has never been terribly common, even though its first printing was uncommon and in UMA it was rare. Get what you need and move on. If a shiny version is your preference, the Box Topper foils for nearly $100 is your best intersection of value and style, but you do what works for you.

Goldspan Dragon ($20 to $45, 52k decks) – Standard rotation hit this surprisingly hard for a card that has such a good EDHREC number and is part of such a popular tribe. 

While I am an avowed Dragon aficionado, I am mainly interested in this card for the Treasure shenanigans. We’re entering an artifact set, and Treasures are an evergreen mechanic now. Goldie probably won’t get a Standard reprint, though a Commander/Secret Lair reprint seems likely. 

I would prefer to be in on the Foil Extended Art copies, as those are rarer and more resistant to movement when a new copy gets printed. Plus, it’s a Dragon and that tribe keeps getting all sorts of goodies.

Toski, Bearer of Secrets ($9 to $12, 66k decks) – There wasn’t a big period of time for Toski to be cheap, but the window was there for $5 for a long time. We’re now pushing $10 on the cheapest copies, but Showcase foils are not much more and that’s where I want to be. This card does almost everything you want in a green deck, either in the 99 or as the commander. Toski was never really a Standard card, but has been a great Commander card from day one. It’s going to keep being a good card, and a hard cut from any deck that uses creatures to attack. Remember that in a go-wide deck, you can draw several cards in one Toski attack.

Forsaken Monument ($5 to $12, 21k decks) – This is a card I bought a dozen of in FEA at $20, because I moved too soon, but I might buy more at $12 or so. It’s very good with artifact creatures, and with the new emphasis on Powerstone tokens, this will have a chance to do some extremely broken things. Mythics in FEA always have my attention, and this is no exception. 

Retro Foil Fetchlands (Wide range, S-Tier staple in EDH) – Modern Horizons 2 was opened for a long time, and I think we’ve hit bottom on the retro frame in traditional foil. The etched foils are even cheaper, but the retro in traditional foil has the strongest nostalgia vibes for me. I think everyone should stock up on cheap fetchlands right now, but for spec purposes, I’m going to get a couple of the blue fetches in retro frame, traditional foil. Those have the best potential for growth, though they won’t hit the Expedition prices.

Oracle of Mul Daya ($7 to $76, 49k decks) – Not just a Commander staple but a Cube staple as well, this card’s numbers are low because there just weren’t enough copies out there for the longest time. Now we’ve got a reprint, and plenty of volume, and get while the getting is good, people. I love all the versions, frankly, except for the way overpriced original foils. Get yourself some Borderless foils for your decks, a couple extra for future you, and thank me later. 

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 Double Feature Double Whammy

Earlier this year, Wizards ran an interesting experiment with the Double Feature set, basically asking if they could sell us the same cards twice in a row. At this point, we can say that the results are in: we love super rare Silver Screen foils and are paying quite a premium for them, while the regular versions and even the showcase foils are languishing in price.

Generally speaking, the rarest versions of cards are the most expensive. There’s been some exceptions to this rule, most notably with the VIP product from Double Masters 1, where the borderless non-foils were rarer. In this era of four (or more) versions of a card on release, it’s good to know that the Showcase/EA foil will always be the most expensive, even if it’s a narrow margin.

Double Feature, being a set that wasn’t bought at a high volume and without Collector Boosters, is a rarer version of all the cards that came out in Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow. The Silver Screen foils are almost all more expensive than the assorted Showcase/EA foils, and also represent a ceiling for the MID/VOW foils.

With all this in mind, there’s a set of cards I’m eyeballing to see where the value is at, both for the Silver Screen foils and perhaps the Showcase/EA foils.

One caveat before we begin: I’m giving you the EDHREC inclusion numbers, but remember that those are the most invested players and there’s a bias towards the preconstructed decks. It’s a good data point, but not the only one we need to consider.

Welcoming Vampire ($4 for the least expensive, up to $20 for the priciest version, 29k decks) – It’s impressively easy to engineer a way to trigger this not just on your turn but on opposing turns as well. The Showcase foil, with the nicely-done Fang Frame, is available for $6. Right now, if you want to spec on this card (which I do), you’re looking at the DF foils and wondering what’s the height they can reach. If those foils hit $30 or $40, what’s the Showcase foil going to be at? From a percentage standpoint, do you want to sink $100 into five DF foils or 18 Showcase foils? I think I’m in on the Double Feature foils because the volumes are just so darn tiny. In this case, there’s about thirty foil copies available from Double Feature, as opposed to roughly five times that many copies available for the Showcase foil.

To be clear, I think that both will go up over time, and buying in at $6 and selling in a year or two at $12-$15 for the Showcase is quite likely.

Dreamroot Cascade ($6 to $25, 41k decks) – All ten of the lands have a big jump to the DF foil and I’ve got two conflicting thoughts here: First, I MUCH prefer to play with the color version because it’s much easier to tell what colors they tap for. Second, these are all over the place in Pioneer, which is a nice bonus to the Commander demand. There is a reprint risk for these lands too, but that’s just baked into everything right now. Nothing is stopping Wizards from going in and making these the next Secret Lair, as they did to shocklands and fetches.

With the gap being what it is, and my preference, I’d likely be going for the Extended Art foils. I have confidence that all versions will trend upwards from here.

Shipwreck Marsh ($3 to $20, 62k decks) – This rotates out of Standard in the coming fall and even though this is super popular in Commander and Pioneer, rotation and Standard is still a thing to be aware of. Same reprint risk as Cascade above, but the lower buy-in for regular copies is very very tempting. 

I like getting in at very low prices and just being patient. A minor bump upwards will pay off well, where for the expensive versions, it’ll take a while but get there too.

Necroduality ($10 to $45, 10k decks) – As a proud Zombies player, I adore this card and I have Double Feature foils everywhere in that deck. This launched at a very high price but has come down nicely.

Yes, this doesn’t play well with Legendary Zombies like Grimgrin, but this is an enchantment version of Miirym! The Tribal decks don’t always get love this strong, and this is a centerpiece for any Zombie deck.

Extended Art foils can be had for a third the price of the DF foils, but the quantities are much different. There’s not going to be a combo deck with this in any Constructed format, so you’re going for Commander players and that means I’m targeting these scary, dark, blue-tinged foils.

Chandra, Dressed to Kill ($16 to $95, 4500 decks) – Chandra, however, has a much different path to follow. This version of our favorite pyromancer has a low mana cost and some great abilities for use in Pioneer, where she’s showing up as a three or four in a lot of aggro decks. When that’s the basis for demand, I want the regular nonfoils. I haven’t yet seen evidence that people are chasing playsets of DF foils for Pioneer play. Yes, those foils are super expensive, but with these quantities, it only takes a couple of players to pump the price all the way up.

Infernal Grasp ($1 to $14, 59k decks) – As an uncommon, this has a higher drop rate but this kill spell is all over the place in Commander. We’ve got a promo already of the card in the ‘Summer Vacation’ subset and this was a promo in the FNM frame as well. Quantity is not a problem at all, but above all else, a black spell looks great in the Double Feature foiling. There’s no question what looks better, but will Commander players drive the $14 DF foil higher first, or will they push up the FNM promo frame from $3 to $7? 

Considering the prices involved, I’d rather be in on the promo frames, as there’s a lot of space between those and the much rarer versions.

Triskadekaphile ($0.50 to $6, 20k decks) – Alternate win conditions are a popular thing in Commander, and this one does what players love to do anyway: draw lots of extra cards. Yes, it’s fragile and vulnerable and you don’t win until your next turn, but that hasn’t stopped this card from being a bit valuable and included in a surprising number of decks. 

We had a chance to buy in at $4 but $5 or $6 is still plenty appealing. This will get hot somehow, it’ll get featured on a video, and we’ll clean up nicely. I want the DF foils all the way here, no chance for the regulars unless you’re going to get a huge stack at bulk rates and planning to buylist them out for a good gain.


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.

Urza and Mishra Count Down Their Top Ten Artifacts!

Sure, we’re a month into Dominaria United, but I’m going to let at least another five months go by before I buy any of that. I’m certain there will be great deals, I just have to let them find the bottom.

Instead, what I want to do is a fun exercise with artifacts and The Brothers’ War: What are the top artifacts in Commander and which ones are ready for a bump? It’s true that some of these will be cards we’ve mentioned before, and some of these might get the ‘retro frame artifacts’ treatment, being one of five hundred numbered copies too.

I can’t predict what will be in that subset of cards, this Artifact Archive, but this will be a good list of cards that might go up because they are good and they are popular. If something feels likely to be an inclusion for that subset of cards, I’ll mention that.

One warning about the EDHREC ranks: This is a database created by the most enthusiastic of people, and has a bias towards preconstructed deck inclusions. Don’t get too wrapped around the handle of this data, but do allow it to inform some of your decisions.

Timeless Lotus (cheapest version is $20, most expensive $35, 3200 decks on EDHREC) – One of the things we noticed right away was that there were no Extended Art or other Showcase version for this, Karn’s Sylex, and Weatherlight Compleated. This seems to scream out that the special version is coming, because not even Wizards would print a special version and then in the next big set give us a retro frame version. 

I will likely be all over the retro frame versions when they come out, being a great mana rock but keep in mind that it can only be in five-color decks. I imagine that the popularity of this card has a lot to do with five-color Dragon decks and Jodah, the Unifier being in the same set.

Herald’s Horn ($7 to $20, 77,000 decks) – We are getting a special foil version for the Year of the Tiger later this year, and there’s a Surge foil in the new Warhammer 40k decks. That’s two very good foils but in the same frame. Putting this in as a retro frame card is very likely, but if it’s not, watch out on both foil versions. This is a very popular card despite never getting large-quantity printings.

Whispersilk Cloak ($3 to $12, 76,000 decks) – This is in the all-foil Heads I Win, Tails You Lose deck coming soon, thanks to printing delays. It should have arrived a whole lot sooner, but for our purposes, it’s not that big a deal. Not a new frame, but also not really reprinted in a major way for several years now. I expect the first premium version of this to do very well.

Panharmonicon ($5 to $40, 71,000 decks) – We’ve got the Secret Lair blueprint version, and we already have a retro frame version from the Time Spiral Remastered set. It’s not impossible for Wizards to give us a second retro frame, but we also just got an Extended Art foil and an etched foil from Double Masters 2022, so being in the Artifact Archive is not happening. I don’t want to spec on 2X2 yet, but I’m tempted by the blueprint version, being as rare as it is.

Isochron Scepter ($11 to $40, 68,000 decks) – Amazingly, this has never had an alternate frame. It’s got a super-sweet Eye of Sauron thing going on with the FNM version from way back when, but this is a prime candidate for inclusion in The Brothers’ War set. If it dodges that reprint, we’re off to the races.

Phyrexian Altar ($29 to $500, 67,000 decks) – At least three times, Wizards has reprinted a card whose original was in the retro frame: Time Spiral’s Timeshifted sheet, Mystery Boosters, and the judge promo Animate Dead. There might even be more, there’s so many cards to keep track of these days! I don’t think they would put a new retro version of Altar out there, given the history and the recent printing, but again, I’m still waiting for 2×2 to hit its floor.

Altar of Dementia ($8 to $20, 62,000 decks) – This was originally in Tempest, has its first foil in Conspiracy of all things, and has kept its price due to a total lack of reprints. If this is in the Artifact Archive, I’d expect it to be pretty cheap at the end of things, and then I’m content to swoop in and buy up some copies.

Helm of the Host ($16 to $33, 55,000 decks) – Extremely popular for an artifact with a crazy-high cast and possibly the highest equip cost of anything people play in Commander, this is so very ready for a reprint and I fully expect it to do well in a retro frame. Don’t buy any of these, even for personal use, until after we get the full list in BRO.

Thousand-Year Elixir ($5 to $81, 48,000 decks) – I’ve got a couple of decks that love this card, but it’s only had the one foil printing, way back in Lorwyn. It’s also got a price that’s high due to scarcity, just like Altar of Dementia. It’ll always be a niche card, but very very good in that niche. Retro version is very likely here, and hopefully the cheapest copies get down to a dollar.

Alhammarret’s Archive ($8 to $25, 45,000 decks) – This is a card that makes a table gnash their teeth and turns a free-for-all into an Archenemy battle. Doubling up on card draw and life gain is a tough bargain to pass up, and this has only gotten a Mystery Booster reprint and a Commander 2021 set of copies since its debut in Magic Origins. I’m doubtful that this will be reprinted, and it doubles up two effects that decks love to do, so wait for the list to come out and then move 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 Only Three Things I’m Doing Now

If you’ve paid any attention to Magic news over the last week or so, you might have missed out on the news that there’s a new version of the Collector’s Edition coming out, called the 30th Anniversary version. Or the news before that, telling us that there’s going to be a Universes Beyond set for Final Fantasy and Assassin’s Creed. Or the news before that, where there’s a new set of Transformers cards coming with The Brothers’ War. Or the news before that, where we’re getting a Secret Lair for $149.99 with thirty cards as a countdown. Or the news before that, with Dominaria Remastered as an upcoming set full of reprints. Or the news that just came out, regarding the 40k Secret Lair drop.

My point is, there’s a whole lot of new sets and teasers for upcoming things. It’s an enormous amount to keep track of, and I’m someone who writes 5-6 articles a month about Magic!

The Collector Booster/Secret Lair era has changed some of what I do, and today, I want to go over the rules. This stuff applies to sealed product and single specs alike. I’ll explain my view on each as we go, but I’ve resolved that this is the only time I’m spending my money.

#1: Underpriced/Arbitrage opportunities

There’s frequently deals to be found between different stores, different continents, or special sales. Once you get access to those sorts of things, getting 10 or 20 percent off of retail puts cards in an amazing light. If you’re a ProTrader, and active in our ProTrader Discord, you can be part of great group buys, but there’s other access paths as well.

There’s often arbitrage opportunities if you can manage the logistics of international shipping. Not every store will ship across an ocean, but the strength of the dollar against other currencies means that you can gain some impressive deals on cards. It feels like cheating, to buy cards with such a lower price, but again, the shipping internationally can eat up a lot of those margins. Do your research and plan well before embarking on such an endeavor.

#2: We are 7-9 months removed from the initial product run

In the last couple of years, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way: The time to buy is not when the set moves on from being the drafted set in stores and Arena. The time to buy has become several months later, when supply has trickled to max and interest is at its lowest. Here’s a recent example of buying low and reselling high:

To be fair, in January 2021, I did write about this as a pickup at $1.50 foil. Easy pickings, given the EDH numbers then and what it’s at now. 

This is exactly the pattern, though. I made other purchases at that time that continued to track downwards, and I could have gotten in even cheaper on things like Felidar Retreat and Ruin Crab. 

#3: The Quick Flip/Presale

One of my longest-running tenets has been to never preorder anything, but there’s been some occasions where buying early and flipping right away is a valid strategy. This is especially true with sealed product.

The time before the official release is a wild, wild time. Singles are put at prices that reflect crazy amounts of hype, combined with the low amount of vendors who’ll put up singles ahead of time. If you know you’re going to be cracking a lot of product, you can safely put up one or two rare foils. 

An aspect of this that gets less press and more stress is for those who presell a product, the margins can be very lucrative. Here’s the TCG graph for DMU Collector Booster Boxes, a set that officially released on September 9: 

If you were a seller on TCG who could list preorder product in late July, something like 8-10 weeks before street release, you could sell boxes for $80 more than they are currently selling for. That’s a pretty crazy margin, especially if you’re buying at a distributor price and reselling at this inflated retail price.

Only a certain percentage of sellers are allowed to presell, though, and you have to be a certified Hobby Shop. Still, you could sell product on the day of release, when it is still higher, and recoup a tidy markup.

Singles are, of course, the best thing to sell right away as everything is at its maximum price. So flipping quickly is an art form if you don’t have presales going on; your best bet might be local sales that take place offline.

There is one other aspect to buying at the right price: Selling at the right price. 

I presume that 15% of my sale price on TCG or Ebay is going to get eaten up by fees and shipping and taxes. The precise amount can vary, of course, but that’s the rough estimate I keep in my head. 

An example of money that could be made is in the Secret Lairs that have appreciated. For instance, the ‘Foil Compleat Edition’ of five Praetors in Phyrexian language sold for $40 when initially offered. Right now on TCG, they can be had for just under $80. Presuming I sell at $80, that’s $40 + $12 in costs, an estimated profit of $28 per copy sold at that price. 

Totally fair to make that profit, but I confess that I’m holding out for more. I’ve got two copies listed for just under $100 with shipping, and a few more sets ready to sell once those have been sold. 

It’s not a quick flip, I just want more profit, and that’s an estimation we all have to make. It doesn’t cost me much besides storage to keep holding on, watching the price go up. There’s plenty of Secret Lairs that have gone up in value, and as long as Wizards keeps to their policy of not reprinting specific Secret Lairs, they can go nowhere but up…even if they are ascending at a snail’s pace.

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.