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

There’s Other Cards?

While a lot of the attention is rightfully on the old border cards, and the foil versions thereof, we’ve got other cards in the packs of Time Spiral Remastered, a lot of which are relevant cards and needed a fresh injection of copies. Given the focus on the old border cards, and the money being thrown at them, we need to be disciplined and remember that every reprint set offers an opportunity to pick up cards that needed a reprint at their lowest possible prices.

A caveat here about when to buy these cards: By all indications, this is a short-run set. Vendors are selling as of today, and individuals who like to open boxes are getting their product this coming week, exactly when Strixhaven previews begin. I do expect that most of these prices fall further, which makes buying in that much more attractive.

Interestingly, a lot of these cards are reprints of reprints, meaning that the supply has already been increased once or more since original Time Spiral. If it’s been reprinted before, and the price recovered, that makes these solid buys for the most part. We know for sure that demand is high enough to make the price higher eventually, and a low cost plus patience will often lead to value. Buying in at the low point is a core mechanic for what we do.

Venser, Shaper Savant ($6) – This is one of the top non-OB cards in the set, going by EDH inclusion rates. Ten thousand players have registered this online, and countless cubes carry this mega-bouncer as well. This is a pet card for a lot of players, because while some spells can’t be countered, this is just returning to hand, buying you some needed tempo. His price has been as high as $20, and weirdly had a spike to nearly $30 for the original Future Sight version just a few weeks ago. The Modern Masters 2017 reprint never made it above $11, and that is our ceiling. Venser is a rare in this set, and I’m looking for this to drop another couple of dollars before moving in. 

Prismatic Lens (Foil) (75 cents) – You might be wondering why I’m talking about an uncommon here, but the foil from original Time Spiral is $6, the better-art foil from Ultimate Masters is $3, and the reprint in Eternal Masters is $2. I don’t want to buy in before it hits 50 cents, or preferably a quarter, but the value will be there if you like growth. At the least, grab copies for your Commander decks while the card is at its low point. More than 20k decks have done the same online, and that’s why this foil tends to recover its value over time.

Magus of the Moon ($8) – The Iconic Masters version had crept up to nearly $20 when this reprint arrived. Picking this up is a testament to how much paper play you think will happen in the next year or two, as this is a popular Modern sideboard card, with a smattering of Legacy play included. Given that paper play is nonexistent at the moment, I’m really hoping this falls even farther, ideally to under $5. 

Pact of Negation ($18) – Worthwhile to note that there’s already a couple of people on TCG putting this as low as $15, so let’s watch this angle downwards a bit more before diving in. On EDHREC, 10% of all decks that can run this do, more than 25,000 people want a free counterspell in Commander to go with the Modern players who can win this turn and don’t care about five mana next turn. Bonuses to the ones playing Hive Mind! This was available as low at $10 when the first Modern Masters came out, and if this got as low as $10 it would be an excellent pickup going forward. We know it’s got the chops to be a $30 card, and all it’s going to take is a little patience to recover in value.

Akroma’s Memorial ($14 vs $36) – The reprints have been as you’d expect with this card. 

The M13 version was available very cheaply, and while I don’t think it’ll get down to $5 again, it’s easy to see this as being $10 in a couple of weeks. Given that it’s only registered in about 6,000 decks, I’m not expecting to see this grow quickly. Picking up cheap cards and being patient feels good, but I’m not waiting seven years to cash this in. This has a while to fall on TCG, as Card Kingdom has it for much much less right now. Be patient, and pick your spots.

I also want to take a moment and talk about some other cards that are not good pickups, even though the reprint is quite attractively priced compared to the original.

Reiterate (TSR is $6, TSP is $15) – Only in 3,000 Commander decks online, the original price is simply a relic of the tiny supply. This will be nearly bulk relatively quickly.

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir ($4 vs. $7) – the Iconic Masters and FTV reprints have kept the price low on this, and while it is a mythic, I’d need it to hit bulk status before I moved in. There’s a whole lot of copies out there and the Commander demand isn’t what you might expect.

Wheel of Fate ($1 vs $4) – Mystery Booster had this, there’s Commander copies out there too. Bulk and never to recover.

Coalition Relic ($2 vs $3) – Once the gold standard for mana rocks, the Relic has just been middling these last few years. There are 10,000 decks online that have it registered and likely a lot more that just play it because it’s good, but this is another card where the reprints have been a touch too frequent to let the price recover. If I knew they weren’t going to reprint this for another five years, this would be a solid buy.

The Old Country

Time Spiral Remastered is a set aimed at reprinting cards that have had a low supply and maximizing player nostalgia. As part of this, Wizards gave us a whole sheet of cards that were timeshifted backwards, a move foreshadowed by the old border Sword of Fire and Ice that was a judge promo a while ago.

This old border sheet of 121 cards is going to drive a lot of the value of the set. Foils are silly rare, you’re getting 1.3 of those per box. The nonfoils offer some intriguing opportunities if the prices drop low enough. Let’s talk about where those prices will go, and when I want to buy in.

I want to reiterate something I said before: about 1-2 weeks after release is your target timing. Regular folks will have gotten their boxes and cracked them, looking for value. Given the premium on the foils, I am expecting everything else to take a dive. Today, though, I want to look at the preorder prices for the old border cards (from now on, abbreviated as OB and OBF) and decide when I want to be buying.

Generally speaking, since these are preorder prices, you can expect prices to go lower as more of the product gets opened. Right now, the people buying are the ones who literally don’t care about price and have to have this card ASAP. Lots of these OB cards are between $5 and $10, and will drop to $1-$2. 

One more item to consider: OB cards that are tournament staples may represent a real shift in how tournament players make their deck unique. Until the introduction of Extended Art and Showcase cards, players had to decide if they wanted to foil out their deck to make it more their own, to have that level of showing off. This involved risk, though, because an incompletely-foiled out deck can have some glaring differences between the foils and nonfoils due to warping/curling issues. If tournament players start moving in on non-foil but special versions of cards, you may see jumps across the board for those once in-person play begins again.

Thoughtseize (OB is currently $65) – Thoughtseize is a staple in Legacy and Modern, and the behavior of this card will be the clearest signal about tournament players’ behavior. There are a lot of options for this, including borderless versions and an Invocation. Should the nonfoil special versions move significantly, other staples won’t be far behind. The 2XM nonfoil borderless is at $30, but that doesn’t have the iconic original art. I think this drops some, but probably not as far as $45. Tournament players who need a full playset are going to keep this card higher than that.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker ($40) – This is going to come down a lot. Mystery Booster copies are $15, OG Kamigawa copies can be had under $30. Iconic Masters and Modern Masters versions are also under $20. There will be some demand to go old-border for Cubes and such, but not enough to keep the price high. I’m expecting this to fall to $25 or less.

Panharmonicon ($23) – This is about double the price of the original nonfoils, which have been trending upwards nicely, even as it was put into The List:

With foils still in the $20 range, we’re at an interesting question: Will players seek out OB versions before foils in the new frame? I can’t answer that, but I’m exceedingly curious about the answer. I’m confident that the OB versions will fall down to the $10-$15 range, but will they stay below the pack foils? I love the look of these timeshifted cards, so I’m biased, but my guess is that we’re a little too conditioned to chase foils. These will probably stay under $20 for a while. In the same vein of ‘will pack foils or OB foils be more expensive is Vanquisher’s Banner, a card I’ve long loved as a tribal spec. I’m expecting the Banner to fall much farther, though, down into the $5 range when supply is at its peak. That’s when I’d like to acquire more than a few copies.

Arcades, the Strategist ($20) – I have to admit, I thought this was WAY overpriced, and then I looked at the graph:

Seems this ‘backbone’ sort of thing has legs, and this injection of new copies has come along at the perfect time. Arcades’ growth has been slow but steady, and while the price will take a dive in the short term, it’ll bounce back over time. I don’t expect any movement on the foils, though. This should travel down to being $10 before starting the climb back up. Every new Defender creature or memes like a Giant Ox should see a blip in this price, too.

Wastes ($8) – Speaking of memes, players who need colorless lands are a class all their own. Full-art foils from Oath of the Gatewatch were nicely positioned to be the growth target, and now this. Nonfoils are definitely going to drop a bunch, and I’m not sure I’d want to have a lot of these around. The full-art foil versions were about $15 at release in 2016, and never really got expensive. In fact, after a spike around the time of War of the Spark, the full-art foils are now cheaper than they were after release.

For Wastes to become expensive (any version aside from the most basic) there’s going to need to be a new colorless commander, or other colorless cards that inspire Wastes-based decks. Keep in mind that the decks which play Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher don’t run many basic lands: the Modern versions play the full set of Tron lands and the Legacy builds use Cloudpost & friends. If Wizards made a new colorless commander deck, there would be some number of basic Wastes in there too. If this version got down under $1, I might spec on a few but generally, I’m staying away.

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 Math on TSR and Timeshifts

Time Spiral Remastered arrives in two weeks, officially. We’ve got most of the set revealed, including the Timeshifted sheet, which is new cards put into old borders. Because TSR is a limited-run set, especially with Strixhaven coming out on April 23rd, TSR and especially the Timeshifted sheet, offers a very unique opportunity for gaining value. Let’s talk about what to get , how many there will be, and when to get it!

Let’s start with the regular set. There are no Collector Boosters or special frames (aside from the Timeshifted sheet) so there’s just regular and foil for the set itself. According to Ben Bleiweiss over at SCG, foil rares in Standard now drop about one in 18 packs, and foil mythics in one in 144 packs, roughly. This tracks with the ratio we’ve been given of foils appearing in Standard sets and the regular packs.

A Wizards source on the WPN Facebook groups has confirmed the foil rate for the foil timeshifted sheet: once every 27 packs, roughly. That is a real ‘holy meatballs’ level of scarcity, especially because the timeshifted sheet is just 121 cards appearing at the same frequency relative to each other. With 36 packs per box, you’re looking at four boxes to collect a set of nonfoil timeshifted cards, though in execution that probably won’t happen. Statistics is like that, sadly. 

There aren’t a lot of cards in the regular set that you should be too worried about, though. This is all reprints, nothing new. Granted, most of these cards haven’t been printed since the original Time Spiral block in 2007-2008, but the price is generally due to the low supply, not a super-high demand. 

Time Spiral Remastered is a limited-run product. They aren’t planning on doing a huge print run, this is just to goose the market with some reprints. I’m confident this will be a fun set to draft, but holy smokes, the foils on the Timeshifted sheet are going to carry some very high premiums.

Let’s have a table, summarizing what we know, before we talk about our plans for these cards.

Rarity/typeOverall Frequency (estimated)Number in the setHow many packs to get one specific card (estimated)
TSR mythic1 in 7.4 packs15111
TSR foil rare1 in 18 packs53954
TSR foil mythic1 in 144 packs152,160
TSR timeshifted1 in every pack121121
TSR foil timeshifted1 in 27 packs1213,267

For comparison: Foil Phyrexian Vorinclex is about every 296 packs, and FEA Jeweled Lotus was every 400 packs. Foil Timeshifted Thoughtseize will be roughly 8 times rarer than FEA Jeweled Lotus. I grant you that Vorinclex and Lotus were in Collector Boosters, but stores were willing to presell those cards based on allocations.

We have a very narrow window with the Timeshifted cards, in foil and not. It’s more than the four weeks between TSR’s release and Strixhaven’s release. Previews for the Standard set will begin just a couple of weeks after Time Spiral Remastered, draining attention and preorder money.

Luckily, we have a very recent example of shorter-run sets with special cards and the timeframe involved: Commander Legends.

I broke down the timeframe for Jeweled Lotus and I also looked at Phyrexian Vorinclex, because the last six months of YOLO and FOMO have lead to a pretty clear pattern: Don’t buy in the first two weeks, but the time to buy is when regular folks have gotten their boxes, and begin cracking and dumping.  You have to give the preorder people a chance to sate their ravenous, drooling, immediate needs but you have to be cognizant of the small supply involved with these cards.

In this case, with the Timeshifted sheet, we’re looking at some ridiculously rare foils. Preorders are notably rare with the big vendors, because they aren’t sure how many of each they will end up with. They are playing it conservative, which I respect as a business decision (refunding the most rabid customers instead of giving them what they paid so early for) and an indicator of their product allocation (holy crap they really aren’t getting much!).

We’ve got most of the cards on the list of 121 (four more to come out today) and I just can’t advocate for price predictions on the foils. Quantities this small are not something we’ve dealt with before, and the collectors have come out in force for Magic lately. I suspect that even the less-popular ones, like Temur Battle Rage, will have surprisingly high foil prices. 

While it’s true that the old border is not everyone’s favorite, the players who get hit with nostalgia are also going to be the older, more enfranchised players, who are also the ones that tend to have more disposable income. I’m not expecting these cards to go down over time, not one bit. 

So what do I think you should do? Wait one to two weeks, and then put down the money needed to get the foil Timeshifted cards you want for personal use, for your collections, and for later growth. Those are clearly going to be the chase cards, and with there being 1.3 Timeshifted foils per box, with 121 cards all having an equal chance to be that foil, it’s going to take a whole lot to get the copies people want.

The real growth opportunity may well be in the nonfoil Timeshifted cards. With so much product getting opened in search of the high-dollar foils, there will be opportunities to pick up the other cards in nonfoil. Tournament staples like Dismember should be good picks, because not every tournament player has an all-foil deck and like nonfoil Extended Art cards, this may be the way to add uniqueness to the competitive decks. Those in-person tournaments will eventually be held again. 

The number of Commander staples on this sheet also represent opportunity. Sure, those players generally want the foils, but as we’ve seen with foil EA Jeweled Lotus and other such chase cards, the nonfoils won’t maintain too much of a gap. Solemn Simulacrum is my favorite pick here, but Panharmonicon is also really pulling at my interest. Sorting this sheet by EDHREC ranking will help you concentrate on the higher-demand cards, and help you decide where to put your money.

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 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.

Here’s the list of cards that are selling for $20 or more which you can get from a Kaldheim Collector Booster. 

Vorinclex regular nonfoil$35Valki, God of Lies regular nonfoil$25
Vorinclex regular foil$42Valki regular foil$28
Vorinclex Phyrexian foil$300Valki Showcase nonfoil$35
Vorinclex Phyrexian nonfoil$60Valki Showcase foil$85
Vorinclex Showcase nonfoil $50Valki Borderless nonfoil$31
Vorinclex Showcase foil$110Valki Borderless foil$55
Goldspan EA nonfoil$25Goldspan EA foil$40
Goldspan regular foil$20Esika Showcase foil$50
Koma regular foil$25Koma Showcase foil$55

Considering that the set is only a couple of months old, that’s not a huge list, and more than a little worrisome. There’s only five different cards represented in this list of eighteen, two-thirds of which are versions of Vorinclex and Valki. With so much value concentrated in a few chase cards, there isn’t a lot to be gained by opening Collector Boosters. If you miss, you lose out pretty significantly. 

Now part of this problem is recency. This is the new set and it’s one month away from the next set coming out. We’ve even got a special release in Time Spiral Remastered on deck, so all the attention is about to fade away from Kaldheim. This is a confluence of factors making sure that the set isn’t going to be opened in big numbers anymore, which tells us that the prices aren’t going to fall any further. From this point, I’d expect to see prices start to head upwards slowly, or jump if new and awesome interactions occur.

Since we’re at the bottom, there’s a few more cards that I’m looking at worth buying, because they do something pretty unique and worth hanging on to.

Pyre of Heroes ($1 for the cheapest version, $5 for the most premium, Foil Extended Art) – For a lot of tribal decks, the ability to upgrade one of your creatures into the next level of the tribe is a very valuable one, especially because it’s put right into play. There are some tribes where this drawback is actually an engine all its own, for Zombies or some other tribes that like to hop in and out of the graveyard. Tribal enablers often have their own growth cycle, and while this has a lot going on to stop Birthing Pod-level shenanigans, matching this with Maskwood Nexus puts any interaction on the table. Value engine plus potential combo goodness means I’m in. 

Draugr Necromancer (fifty cents to three bucks) – This isn’t in a lot of EDH decks yet, and frankly I’m not sure why. First of all, it exiles all your opponents’ creatures instead of letting them go to the yard. That’s generally a very useful ability, but the replay value to those exiled creatures is really wonderful. Yes, the Necromancer has to stay in play for you to cast those creatures, but this bad boy is a Zombie, the tribe which has the easiest time coming back into play. Having this plus snow basics in your deck is a pretty easy ask, with a potentially enormous payoff. I’m a big big fan of what this offers in Commander games, and all it will take is one experience or popular stream with the Necromancer for this to find some glory days and big prices. 

When I looked up this card, it made me think about what I’d pay for an easier time of things. Here’s the cheapest listings for single copies of the card:

Now, I hate buying spec copies one at a time. Unpacking a whole bunch of copies, filling up my PO Box, paying a bunch of shipping fees, all of those make me like checking the ‘who’s for four or more copies’ tag. Let’s see what that has…

Hmmmm. Am I willing to pay more for my 4x copies than I am for a bunch of singletons? In this case, a dollar or so each is a pretty significant percentage. If it was a wall of 20+ copies it would be an easier choice, but just four here and eight there isn’t terribly appealing. This doesn’t happen on a lot of cards, but it’s something to keep in mind. How much is the time and energy worth? How much extra will you pay to get just one or two packages rather than 16? I don’t have an answer for you there, as only you know how much time you have to spare to do that. Bonus points for this optimistic person listing copies at $50.

Toski, Bearer of Secrets ($2-$7) – Finally, a card that’s Commander gold in the color it was always meant to be in. There’s two versions of this effect as blue enchantments, but having a tiny squirrel who’s rabid to attack is just perfect. Toski hasn’t been widely adapted into Commander decks yet but I like the odds that this becomes quite the staple. Playing Toski as a Commander also lets you build some Voltron version, loading up on equipment or other enhancements and drawing cards when he gets in there. The graph puts us where we want to be, at lowest price due to maximum supply and ready to stock up on copies in anticipation of their future increase. I prefer to have any of the more premium versions, as this would be a fun reprint to see in a future Commander deck.

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.