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

Core 2020 at Rotation

Next week, we should start seeing official previews for Zendikar Rising. There have been some unofficial leaks, but I’ve never believed in those speculations and if I write something here, I want to be confident in it, not building a whole cart of cards based on one grainy image.

Rotation is upon us, and in recent weeks, I’ve gone over all the rotating sets and tried to help you pick what’s underpriced. The last one I’m getting to is Core 2020, the last set before Collector Boosters entered our awareness and the first set with an enhanced foil drop rate. Consequently, you’re not going to see any Extended Art/Showcase/Borderless picks here, just the last gasp of foil vs. nonfoil. Ah, those simpler times.

To the cards!

First of all, we need to talk about how cheap the cards in this set are. They are definitely feeling a bit underpowered compared to the ban-fest that was Throne of Eldraine, but the #6 and #8 cards on the list of ‘what’s worth the price of a pack’ are both uncommons. 

Granted, Twinblade Paladin was from a Planeswalker deck, but you get the idea…and let’s start there. The Twinblade cannot be had in foil, but it is a $5 card. It comes down as a 3/3 double strike in Commander, given that it says 25 life and not the more recent templating of ‘five more life than your starting total.’ Then it grows with every bit of incidental lifegain you can throw at it, a pretty solid card but the distribution here is key: You’ve got to open a $15-$20 package to get one of these, and that sets a price ceiling. If you can find the deck for $10, it’s hard to lose money, given that you get a booster pack, but the potential is still there.

If you like to play lifegain decks, I’d get your copy now. The ramp to $10 is not a slow one on TCG, and specs like this absolutely depend on never getting reprinted. Most of the Planeswalker deck exclusives are not this good, and are tied to their specific (crappy) planeswalker, so I’d rate the reprint risk as medium to high. It’s been a while since we had a lifegain-focused Commander deck, and this would be a prime candidate for inclusion.

Veil of Summer ($7 nonfoil/$43 foil) – For a card that got banned from Standard in November, the graph looks remarkably healthy, even as the banhammer hit in Pioneer, Historic, and Modern:

I have to say, this is a Commander card with a healthy dose of Legacy love. More than 14,000 decks play this card, including a boatload of competitive EDH builds too. Wizards knows this card was a mistake, and there’s only 12 NM foils on TCG right now. And this is with the increased foil drop rate! As an extra kick, since it’s uncommon, there’s no prerelease foils out there!

I wouldn’t be shocked if one day we got Secret Lair: Banned and this was one of the cards. I also wouldn’t be shocked if this was a $60 foil in three months. Given that the reprint risk has never been higher, I feel like you should at least get foils for the decks you use. This is one of those ‘they can’t reprint everything’ specs because they really don’t want to reprint a card that’s been banned in so many formats.

Vivien, Arkbow Ranger ($5/$11) – Picking up this version of Vivien is basically placing a bet on the future of Pioneer in paper. There’s a mono-green planeswalker-focused deck that loves going big with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, and assorted delightful Karn, the Great Creator targets in the sideboard. If you think Pioneer is going to come back in a big way, this is a card you want to stock up on. Mythic, summer set, it’s a four-of…it checks all the boxes you’d hope for in a big spec. 

Has to be said, though, that we’re in an uncertain timeline. If the pandemic were not happening, this would be a lock. But if the pandemic wasn’t happening, this wouldn’t have gotten so cheap in paper. One of the indicators I look for in this regard is that online, she’s nearly 9 tickets. That’s a noticeable gap and it means something is happening online that isn’t happening in paper…yet. I do think Pioneer will be back in person eventually, but the uncertain timeframe has me leery on this.

Lotus Field ($6/$12) – There’s a few fun decks in Modern and Pioneer that will tap and untap this a whole bunch, play Omniscience, and then win with Enter the Infinite/Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. That’s awesome. It’s also in 6k Commander decks online, which is a high enough number that I want to have a few foils in reserve for when they hit $20.

Icon of Ancestry ($1.50/$3) – Go look around at what’s in stock on this and you’ll see that a surprising number of places don’t have this in stock. It’s a tribal enabler, which is good, but it’s also quite likely to be reprinted in a future Commander product. Foils are where you want to be here, and won’t take much to hit $10, given how quickly the ramp goes up into the $6 range for foils on TCGPlayer.

Gargos, Vicious Watcher ($1.50/$4) – Gargos caught a minor bump when Zaxara, the Exemplary came along in Commander 2020:

Yes, Hydras just got all the love with this new Commander but this has a clear place and it’s one of the first cards people will reach for on Hydra builds. I love tribal payoffs, and this is clearly one of them. Plus the buylists offer a pretty safe haven: foils are being bought around $2 in store credit, so time your purchases well and you’re insulated from things going wrong.

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.

Inventions on Display

Our attention has been focused on the new thing, Double Masters. It’s about to be focused on the next new thing, Zendikar Rising. But with so much attention of the rising or the falling of Box Topper prices, I’ve seen a lot of prices for Masterpieces as examples. Some of these cards have fallen quite low from their peaks, and it’s time to consider picking a few up.

I’m going to be summarizing current prices given TCG and eBay, so if you see one cheaper than the price I’ve listed, feel free to grab it for your collection. I’m also going to be listing the highest price I can see on graphs for the card, so we know how far it’s come down.

Lightning Greaves (Currently about $90, off from a peak of $150 in March 2019) – I’m really big on the Box Topper version of this, which can be had for $15-$25 depending on where you are and if you like foils. But when I was comparing the most premium versions, I remembered the time in 2019 where this spiked, from pure scarcity. They just announced another premium version in the Secret Lair with dog-based art, and clearly that will have the Corgi market locked up.

Even with all that, you can get this version with the sweetest frame for under $100, and that is enough to have me trawling Facebook for people selling their copies. If it came down another $10 with the two premium versions coming out this summer, I wouldn’t panic. Inventions are more about personal use than heavy speculation, they deserve to be shown off with this gorgeous frame.

Solemn Simulacrum (About $80, off from near $200 in July 2017) – While I’m not a huge fan of how the art tends to lean into the ‘Sad Robot’ nickname, I can’t argue that this is clearly the most premium version to be had. There’s no other version that cracks $20, which is pretty amazing given that it’s in 20% of all EDH decks built online. This summer’s EA foil is just $10, which also feels incredibly underpriced.

Still, being able to get this under $100 would feel quite nice, and represent a pretty safe place to park value. In addition, there’s not a lot of copies out there, and the ramp on TCG is about two pages deep before you’re in $120-$150 pricing.

Gauntlet of Power (about $55, from $150 in April 2018) – Yes, it’s strictly worse than Caged Sun, and that’s why there’s been no reprints of this card since Time Spiral. Still, this is super powerful in mono-colored Commander decks and there’s not a huge inventory out there. 

Planar Bridge ($60, down from $140 in April 2018) – There was indeed a time when there was a run on Inventions, and later on, a run on Invocations. I fully expect that in a couple of years there will be a run on Box Toppers in the same way. Planar Bridge is a great way to utilize mana in a combo turn, and being this cheap is something that won’t stand. Even the original was a mythic in a small set, with no reprints at all yet. 

Steel Overseer ($40, down from $100 in July 2017) – You can’t convince me that this is as good as Ornithopter. The 0/2 flyer is MORE expensive than this Tempered Steel payoff. It’s only in about 4000 Commander decks, and that’s surprising to me. This effect is super-powerful, though, and scales out of hand incredibly quickly in most artifact decks. I feel like this should be at least $20 higher, and that means you should at least grab this version for your deck while it’s cheap.

Champion’s Helm ($35, down from $75 in April 2018) – First of all, let’s take a moment and assess that this card has been printed twice. First in Commander 2011, and then as a Masterpiece. The nonfoil from ten years ago is $17, and this is the only other printing. Currently there are 11 copies TOTAL on TCGplayer, only two of them nonfoil. Despite being in such super-limited quantities, it’s still in 3300 decks online. It’s overdue for a reprint, and when it happens, you’ll want to have this version ready to sell into the mega-hype.

Vedalken Shackles ($45, down from a high of $90 in April 2018) – While it’s only in 2300 Commander decks, this is a Cube staple all on its own and there’s only 15 copies total on TCG. This is another one that has not been printed that much: Fifth Dawn, a third set in 2004, and Modern Masters 2013, and this promo version. It’s not going to take much for this to rise $25, and as time passes, it’s just going to get more scarce.

There’s one more thing you need to know about the Inventions: They are almost all cheaper in Europe. The Commander demand is not as strong there, and if you’ve got the connections then you should make use of them. On average, Inventions are about 15% cheaper in Europe because of that decreased demand. I think these are good prices here in North America, and worth picking up. Understandably, if you can get in even lower, then you should. That’s basics but sometimes it helps to hear it again.

If you don’t have a friend in Europe, then may I suggest heading over to our ProTrader Discord channel and making a new friend? We’ve got a lot of international friends, and this is one of the best ways to maximize value.

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 Worth of a Symbol

With Double Masters lighting up our world and about three weeks to go until Zendikar Rising previews, I want to take a breath and think about Mystery Booster cards. Not just the Convention playtest cards, since people have gone crazy on the high end of those, but the foils that barely had a chance to shine. Some of these are very nicely priced compared to their original, and price gaps are worth examining.

Scourge of the Throne ($9 for MB foil vs. $75 for Conspiracy foil) – I originally stumbled across this price gap when I was looking for a foil version of this card for my Ur-Dragon deck, and my jaw dropped. Sure, original Conspiracy was forever ago and this is a foil mythic from a tiny set, but my goodness. I respect anyone who wants to get the original, but I’m pretty content to pick up the new foil, and a few extras. There’s 100+ NM foils for the MB version, but less than ten for the foils from Conspiracy. I don’t think anyone will lower their CNS prices, for the record. Mythic dragons will always have my attention, especially in foil when there’s no EA to chase. One of the best pickups right now.

Minamo, School at Water’s Edge ($8 MBF vs. $70 for Champions of Kamigawa foil) – Seven thousand Commander decks, and that likely should be higher. It’s an almost-no-cost upgrade over an island to give your Commander vigilance when you want it, and is capable of a whole lot more. It’s not just a legendary permanent you control, you can give the gift of an untap when needed too. This is far too large a price gap to hold forever, and represent a wonderful long-term spec.

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund ($13 for Double Masters foil vs. $45 for Alara Reborn foil) – It’s no $60 gap but it’s a big gap for a sweet sweet Dragon. Kaarthus’s price has come down a lot since the beginning of the year, but it’s still a notable gap. It’s nice to have the haste enabler, but stealing the Dragons at the table can be amazing game in Commander. For comparison’s sake, Maelstrom Nexus has a similar gap in foil, from $5 to $27.

Boreal Druid ($2 MBF vs. $22 Coldsnap foil) – Snow mana is a big deal, especially now that we have some awesome accessories for snow shenanigans in Commander. Having early snow mana means a lot, in the face of the Astrolabe ban it’s a winner in most decks. There’s a limited number of one-mana accelerators, and this shows up in a lot of cubes just for this reason. Herald of Leshrac, a rare from the same set, has a $1/$13 split, if you need a reference for how commonly Boreal Druid is used.

Intruder Alarm ($6 MBF vs. $60 8th edition foil) – I think the original Stronghold art is superior, but your choice is a binary one if you’re looking for a foil. The question is, do you want to combo off with a $50 price gap? This is especially appealing due to the combo implications. This tends to spike when sweet legends come out, or a new Commander combo is unlocked. Now you can get the cheapest version possible in the face of the next spike.

Reki, the History of Kamigawa ($3 MBF vs. $34 Saviors of Kamigawa) – Reki isn’t used extensively in Commander, but there are Legendary-themed decks that love this effect. I especially love cast triggers, and this is cheap enough to cast and then follow-up with a legend.

Gilder Bairn ($1 MBF vs. $20 for Shadowmoor) – This is only in about 1000 Commander decks online, but the effect is one of the only ways to double up on any permanent. A lot of effects since then won’t touch planeswalkers (Vorel of the Hull Clade) and that’s why this uncommon is $20. Remember that the Mystery Booster collation comes from whole sheets of 121 cards, so the Bairn is as likely to be in a pack as Scourge of the Throne. The printed rarity doesn’t matter: you’re getting one in every 121 packs (slightly over 5 boxes). Yes, there’s 100 copies on TCG right now, but we’re not opening any more Mystery Retail. Who wants to draft that when there’s Double Masters, or Zendikar 3, or some other set yet to be released?

Teferi’s Puzzle Box ($7 MBF vs. $200 7th foil vs. $34 8th foil vs. $63 9th foil) – Speaking of combo enablers, there’s been a lot of stuff that works really well with the Box, things like Nekusar, the Mindrazer. Every time, these get a little more pricey. The original in Visions can’t have a foil, and now you can buy in at the cheapest version. It’s also the most common one, but with only 137 vendors and none with a huge amount, there’s a lot of room to grow. It’s the same art as the 8th Edition foil, so that’s your price comparison.

Braid of Fire ($8 MBF vs. $40 Coldsnap foil) – Finally, let’s look at a card that spiked towards the end of last year and then came back down. Remember, when this came out, mana burn was a thing and you could suffer for having this. Now there’s no drawback, you just need someplace to put the mana. I have confidence in the abilities of Commander players to pull this off, especially with less vendors for this card than the others on this list when looking at TCG. The regular nonfoil is $11, and that’s all due to being in a weird third set that came out during a totally different block.

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.

Double the Buying

No, no, I mean Box Toppers.

We’ve had a LOT of price movement on these, and it’s made a lot of my predictions look pretty terrible. I’m not one to hide when I’m wrong, but this seems to be an instance of there being a lot more product and a lot of people who are trying to take profits quickly.

This is good for anyone who wants to get these for themselves, and also good for those who want long term value. Let’s get into it.

The first thing that you might notice is that the foil BTs and the nonfoil BTs often have a real discrepancy in price, but with the nonfoil being more expensive. This is because every VIP pack gives you two foil box toppers (one definitely rare, the second has a 66% chance of being mythic) and every box of Double Masters comes with two nonfoil toppers at what I think is the same ratio. 

A lot of the rare BTs have a higher price for nonfoils than foils, because there’s less Double Masters boxes being opened right now than VIP packs. Vendors are chasing the profit from VIP packs, opening them in quantity and trying to extract maximum value. 

If you’ve ordered VIP packs ahead of time (as I have) then you might be wondering what to do. I am not going to be cracking them and trying to cash in right away. Too many vendors are too ahead of us, and if you don’t hit the big ones, then you’re going to miss out on some value. If you open a foil Force of Will, then you’re going to get paid anyway, but there’s going to be a lot of people trying to cash in ASAP.

I don’t think you should be one of those people. I’m holding my packs, and I anticipate holding them for a while. I am doubtful that there will be much of a second wave of VIP, because that would step on Zendikar Rising sales (presumably of Collector Boosters, but who knows) but I do anticipate an announcement of more VIP, even if it’s not accompanied by a lot of product.

I don’t think you should be selling this weekend–I think you should be buying instead. Some of these box toppers, in foil and nonfoil, are are ridiculous prices, and there’s some regular versions to consider too. Prices have been hit hard, and in the rush to make what profit one can, there’s a lot of things on the board that represent a chance to increase in value.

First, the Box Toppers I really like, and keep in mind that prices may drop by a few percent this weekend as people rush to find the floor. It may go even lower next weekend, as regular folks get their preorders in hand and try to cash out. I’m comfortable with the prices I’m listing.

Fatal Push ($20 nonfoil/$15 foil) – The inverted prices are notable, and I wish I could say that you ought to lock in on one or the other. This is a pick that says ‘I have confidence that paper events will return, and Modern will be big again!’ and if you aren’t confident in that statement then skip to the next one. I do feel good about Modern events eventually returning, and Push is one of the premier spells in that format. 

Academy Ruins ($24/$22) – A price difference that is barely there, but is present nonetheless. This is one of one of the most puzzling prices out there, and one that deserves attention. The original in Time Spiral is about this price, as is the Modern Masters 2013 reprint. There’s no reason that this gorgeous borderless version, done by a true master in John Avon, should have a price near to the other ones. This is the immediate upgrade for your Cube, and in 13,000 Commander decks. Breya is about to be built a whole bunch, too. Grab your personal copies now, and your spec copies as well.

Phyrexian Metamorph ($12 for either) – It’s in 15,000 decks, and has a promo from when it came out. It’s also one of the best cards you can ask for in blue decks, copying mana rocks, busted enters-play abilities, or game-ending legends. I’m inclined to pick up foils, because Commander players love foils, but being at the same price means that there’s that many less of the nonfoils. 

Wurmcoil Engine ($27 for either) – One of the best creatures ever, this price seems out of line with the basic versions that are available. I’ll grant you that the art is not my favorite, but there’s no reason for this to be $5-$7 more than the Commander Anthology version. The Invention is at about $100, and this Box Topper won’t be threatening that price. This is the mythic that I think has the most room to grow, because there’s significantly less of each Box Topper mythic than each rare. 

Now for a couple of non-Box-Toppers worth paying attention to.

Doubling Season ($40 for the regular nonfoil, $65 for Box Topper foil and nonfoil) – Let’s go to the graph, shall we?

Note the drop when this was a mythic in Battlebond, and the recovery not long after. Reprint season is when you want to get your copies cheap, and I don’t think $40 is the floor here. Any version is going to be a winner, but I’m really hoping that this one can drop to $30 or less once people get their boxes and try to cash in. Doubling Season always recovers. It’s too good, too much a staple.

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon ($18 nonfoil/$35 foil) – Considering that the original from New Phyrexia has never been reprinted, the price on the OG is a respectable $40. Being a mythic will slow the fall, but there hasn’t been an injection of new copies for a long, long time. There is farther to go before it hits the floor, and I’m hoping that it’s below $10, so I can lock in some long-term gains.

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.