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

Gonti, the Thief in Chief, Rides Again!

Outlaws of Thunder Junction is here, and while I paid attention to Ghired two weeks ago, I want to look at the most popular commander from the set so far: Gonti, Canny Acquisitor!

Original Gonti is a great time, allowing you the fun of stealing cards from someone else’s deck. The new version adds two colors, lets you cast things for cheaper, and can trigger more than once per turn! This is tricky to do via webcam, but it’s so much fun in person to have those face down cards, those awesome spells that you’re stealing from others’ decks.

Stealing creatures and spells is a deck in and of itself. Gonti gives you access to a lot of good things to do, and many of these are lined up nicely to climb in price. Since Gonti is a face commander for an entire deck, I’m going to avoid things that were printed in the deck. (way to go, tossing Edric in this deck, A+ inclusion!)

Some of these cards were mentioned last year when we got Tasha, the Witch Queen, but Gonti won’t have the same emphasis on casting the spells. Dealing damage with creatures gets you some extra cards to play with, and that’s what the deck wants most. Remember that you can play lands too!

Gonti, Lord of Luxury (Secret Lair Foil $3) – Trite but true, decks like to replicate their Commanders’ abilities. I have trouble with the idea of a deck that plays three-color Gonti but not the original. He’s in 60,000 decks on EDHREC, in addition to being the headliner for a few thousand decks. The Invisible Ink foil is available for very cheap, and should be a strong addition. 

There is a whole bunch of cards that are cheap to cast and are unblockable. This is exactly what the deck wants, so you can attack the turn you play Gonti and get some cards. Many of these have only one foil printing, and the foils have been hollowed out over time from things like Rogues and Ninja decks. These cards include: Changeling Outcast (MH2 retro foil for $4), Gudul Lurker ($1 common, $10 foil!), Mist-Cloaked Herald ($5 foil), Slither Blade ($7 foil), Tormented Soul (promo for $4), Triton Shorestalker ($6 foil), Dimir Infiltrator ($1/$15 foil), $1 Invisible Stalker.

If the new Gonti deck takes off, these are my favorite targets for this group of cards: $3 foil Escape Artist, 50¢ foil Jhessian Infiltrator, 75¢ FEA Mercurial Spelldancer , $2 foil Metathran Soldier, $3 DBL Suspicious Stowaway.

The good news is that several of these come with the Commander deck, but this would probably exert pressure on the foils to climb even higher. Outcast is also a changeling, which enables a lot of other strategies as well. The really great thing about these is that you can attack several players, put cards in exile, and use whenever. You’ll get your value!

Recently, this commander was featured on The Command Zone, with two very good inclusions: Thada Adel, Acquisitor ($12) and Toski, Bearer of Secrets (foil showcase $13). Thada is amazingly underplayed, but hasn’t been printed in 15 years. It’s the perfect card, with islandwalk and a great ability that Gonti makes even better, steal Sol Ring and play for free!

The next genre of cards that should be included are cards that draw you a card when you deal damage. You want to deal damage, so this works out nicely.

Bident of Thassa (promo $2, foil $4) – Another card that hasn’t had much reprint action, there’s enough bundle foils to need a lot of sales to get it moving.

Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor ($18, but might drop on rotation) – Paying life can sting, but the options for Gix’s second ability will be truly phenomenal. It’s a popular card in Standard at the moment, so any gains it makes means it’ll fall that much farther as rotation approaches.

Coastal Piracy ($4) – A classic, and harder to remove than Gix or the like. The only foils are OG Mercadian Masques and 8th edition, both too expensive for this endeavor.

Reconnaissance Mission ($2 surge foil!) – We’ve seen surge foils spike if they are the only premium version of a card, and this one checks all the boxes. Doesn’t matter that it’s an uncommon, you only got one of these per premium deck, and those decks are a pretty penny each.

Finally, some cards that are just good in this deck:

Kaito Shizuki (Tetsuo Hara foil for $13) – Kaito makes an unblockable, gives good value, and has a sweet foil version available for a very reasonable cost. I like what he offers and I imagine he makes it in the decks as they get built.

Xanathar, Guild Kingpin (Ampersand foils for $25) – There’s only around a thousand Ampersand promos out there, making this the sweetest version of the card available. Hilariously, Gonti’s reduction would apply to the way Xanathar allows you to play cards from their library, so go to town!

Mind Flayer, the Shadow (foils $17, Universe Within $2 nonfoil) – It’s seven mana, but you can adjust when it’s a creature and when it isn’t. There’s a surprising number of the reprint version out there, so I’d avoid those nonfoils and instead get the proper Stranger Things foil to play with. You especially want to do this before season 5, the final season, comes out on Netflix.

Havengul Lich (nonfoils $2, foils $18) – Finally, one of my pet cards when it comes to stealing things from other people. No new foils have been made since 2012, so when the run begins on the foils, those prices will go high quickly. The ability costs one mana, and Gonti reduces the cost by the same amount, so the two of them together read ‘you may play Sultai creature spells from any graveyard’ and that’s a very good time.

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 Toughest Pulls and Strangest Prices in Outlaws of Thunder Junction

The set prereleases this weekend, and officially goes up for sale next Friday, the 19th.

This weekend, I want to think about what is super rare, based on my calculations from last week, and decide if the preorder prices are within a range I’m comfortable with. I almost never preorder cards, but if the math says one thing and the prices say something else, it’s time to make some moves.

Textured Foils (1 in 1500 Collector Booster packs)

The Breaking News Textured Foils are easily the rarest pulls in the set, and rank as some of the most difficult pulls that aren’t serialized. It’s a straightforward math problem: If these are just 1 in 100 to drop for any card, and there’s 15 cards, then boom, 1500 packs to get a specific card. 

As such, the current crop of prices feels like it’s too low. Let’s get a snapshot of the cards, the EDHREC data, and the current preorder pricing.

OTP Breaking News Textured FoilEDHREC # of decksCurrent Preorder Price
Leyline Binding5,175$99
Mana Drain289,681$259
Mindbreak Trap47,006$300
Overwhelming Forces1,158$153
Thoughtseize16,747$120
Crackle with Power46,239$60
Indomitable Creativity4,820$56
Force of Vigor61,222$125
Anguished Unmaking213,666$56
Crime // Punishment307$35
Fractured Identity13,586$27
Oko, Thief of Crowns54,362$139
Contagion Engine43,077$55
Grindstone6,313$60
Mindslaver14,103$45

Immediately, a couple of discrepancies jump out at me. Mana Drain deserves its price, but Anguished Unmaking is probably the most undervalued here. It’s in 73% as many decks, but the price tag does not line up. Granted, it’s got several different versions, including Game Day promos, a radical Secret Lair, and even a Surge Foil in the recent Fallout sets. 

Given the EDH popularity of the card, that’s the textured I see with the most value to be gained. I’m not guaranteeing anything, and I’ve bought zero of these cards (as I said, I hate preordering) but Anguished Unmaking is the card that will tell me if rarity becomes equal to the price. I also think Mindslaver is a bit underpriced here too–it’s a top Cube card, it’s casual gold, and this has no special versions to compete with this new version.

Conversely, I would tell people to stay the hell away from Mindbreak Trap at these prices. Yes, it’s a top cEDH card, but this price is the frantic must-have collector at work. It’s avoided all sorts of reprints over the years, and when the price is low I’ll scoop some up, but Trap being on the same level as Mana Drain? No way.

Some of the other cards have a cache because of Constructed popularity, and tournament players tend to hate it when things don’t match. Thoughtseize has had SO MANY reprints over the last few years, I would not be investing. Leyline Binding is an interesting case, especially with the recent surge in Leyline of the Guildpact decks.

Raised Foils (1 in 600+ CBs)

Now we don’t know the exact numbers here, but the drop rate is at least this bad and can only get worse. As time passes, we’ll get better data going. This subset is all new cards, too, so it’s all about predicting what will be mega-popular in Constructed or Casual formats.

Let’s look at these five cards.

BIG Vault Frame Raised FoilCurrent Preorder Price
Vaultborn Tyrant$94
Loot, the Key to Everything$230
Lotus Ring$240
Sword of Wealth and Power$253
Tarnation Vista$85

The Vista is overpriced, Loot seemed underwhelming, and the Sword is definitely unfair as hell in the right deck. You know for sure that people are going to be copying Time Warps and such. I suspect the Tyrant is the best deal of these five right now, given Dinosaur hype and the absolute ridiculousness of the card itself. Play big green creatures, and gain three and draw a card for your efforts.

That said, these are hard cards to nab from opening CBs, and high prices are to be expected. If the demand isn’t there, these prices will trend downwards, sometimes with surprising speed. If you open one, and can’t sell it on opening weekend, I’d advocate holding on for the long term if you want to maximize your return.

BIG Vault Frame Foil Mythic Rares (1 in 600 CBs)

These cards that aren’t reprints are a hard thing to predict. Experience tells us that the first few days after it goes on wide sale, the prices drift downwards some. But given the tiny drop rate of these cards, there won’t be a lot of restocking happening after the initial wave. That’s when some of these are really going to take off. 

I’m expecting big things from Transmutation Font, Memory Vessel, Esoteric Duplicator, and Simulacrum Synthesizer. Their prices are all currently too high for me to advocate buying in right now, but if all goes according to plan, we’ll be able to get in cheaply in a couple of weeks, once the furor dies down but before the FOMO takes over.

All 30 new cards don’t merit a table of comparisons here, because there’s too many unknowns. Most of these cards are aimed at one deck or another, so what deck they are for will determine their popularity. Sandstorm Salvager, for example, promises to be impressive in a tokens-theme deck as a mini-Overrun but a lot of other cards probably do it better. Inconsistency is a lot easier to identify than potential applications in the future.

I hope this glance at the subsets helps inform your buying this week, and if you’re at the prerelease, may your rares all be the same colors.

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 Mana Math for Outlaws of Thunder Junction (and its subsets)

Outlaws of Thunder Junction is here, and good golly, this is complicated as hell. 

It’s well-known by now that one special set of 30 cards was supposed to be an Aftermath-style set, but instead, they mashed that set into OTJ itself and now we have THIRTEEN special styles all present in one set of Collector Boosters.

It’s a lot to keep track of, and luckily for you, I’ve learned some tricks for keeping up with this sort of foolishness. Come on in, and let’s talk about both types of boosters, but especially the amazing things you can pull from a Collector Booster.

One thing to establish early: For all that there’s a million styles and subsets, there’s no serialized cards in these boosters. Not only does that limit the ‘chase’ feeling of the set, it also prevents me from making an estimation for how many Collector Boosters are printed. That’s a handy piece of information to have, but we’re without it this time around. 

For OTJ, there are some important changes to Play Boosters: 

You have a 20% chance to hit a List card this set, but for this set, The List is the Special Guests and the Big Score subset. For this slot in a Play Booster, it’s nonfoil only, and regular frame for BIG only, no vault frames. The List is ten Special Guests with snazzy hats, and 30 cards from The Big Score, so you’re 20% to hit any card from those forty. A specific card from this group of 40 will take you 200 Play Boosters to open, all nonfoil.

We also have a slot for a foil Booster Fun (which covers everything that isn’t regular frame, so no SPG) in  Play Boosters this set, though at an extremely low rate. They don’t give us odds for this, but it covers every rarity. Commons and uncommons made up 11 out of 12 pulls for the Wildcard slot earlier in the Play Booster, and I’d expect similar numbers here. We just don’t have enough information to do more than guess here, and my guess is that foil rares/mythics make up most of that leftover 8.25 percent. 

The big appeal here is Collector Boosters, and we’re given some exact number for each slot in one of those. From there, we can figure out the percentages to hit any card and the number of packs needed to open a specific card. 

Working our way down from the top of this image, we get pretty straightforward until we hit the 13th slot, the traditional foil or nonfoil rare or mythic rare. We’re outright told that the only foils here are the extended-art ‘face’ commanders from the OTC set, so everything else will be non-shiny. In total, there’s 44 cards here and all have an equal chance of showing up. Sometimes we can get foil versions, but this time none of them seem to be in foil. 

The 14th slot is dedicated to Breaking News, and while there are different listed rarities, we have 30 rares and 15 mythics. Traditionally, there’s two rares for every mythic, so the breakdown looks like this: 

Set/Rarity# of potential cardsPercent 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
OTP Nonfoil Rare3080%2.667%37.5
OTP Nonfoil Mythic Rare1520%1.33%75

For those of you craving a Mana Drain, you’ll hit one every 75 packs. Note that this slot is the newspaper version only, and not the Borderless version.

The last slot in the pack (the foil token doesn’t really count) is a doozy, with twelve different frames/treatments as options. We’re going to need another table:

Set/Finish/Rarity# of potential cardsPercent 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 (rounded)
OTJ EA Foil Rare5037.83%0.75%132
OTJ EA Foil Mythic114.2%0.38%264
OTP Foil Rare3023.2%0.77%129
OTP Foil Mythic155.8%0.39%259
Wanted Poster Foil Rare53.33%0.67%150
Wanted Poster Foil Mythic82.67%0.33%300
BIG EA Foil Mythic Rare245%0.21%480
BIG Foil Vault Frame Mythic Rare305%0.16%600
OTJ Borderless Foil Rare53.3%0.67%150
OTJ Borderless Foil Mythic20.67%0.33%300
OTJ Special Guest Foil Mythic103%0.3%333
OTP Textured Foil Mythic Rare151%0.067%1500
BIG Raised Foil Mythic Rare50.9% or less0.18% or less555+

Note: We aren’t expressly told the raised foil drop rate, just that it’s less than 1%. I’m working off of a 0.9% chance for any Raised Foil, but I can’t promise specific numbers here the way I can in other slots. I can say with confidence it’s at least 555 packs, and could easily be much rarer. For instance, if it’s 0.3% instead, that puts it in the 1 in 1500 range, which is more likely. 

Next week, I’ll be looking at the drop rates compared to the prices, looking for signs that the market isn’t moving fast enough. As always, if you have information or experiences that would help me make this more accurate, please reach out in the comments, on Twitter, or on 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.

Gearing up for the new Ghired, Mirror of the Wilds

The previews for Outlaws of Thunder Junction are coming fast and furious this week, and several of the new commanders are setting up to be world-shakers. Today I want to focus on someone who doesn’t do a new thing, but does it better than anyone else who’s come before:

Ghired has had a card before, about six years ago when Commander 2019 came out. That version had a 4/4 trample creature token built in, but you needed to attack to get the populate trigger.

Make no mistake, this tap ability is “tap:populate” but there is potential for even more. So today I want to come up with a list of the cards that I think Ghired’s Commander deck will want. I’m fully aware that there’s a Naya-colored Commander deck coming, but the theme there is lands moving in and out of the graveyard, so the reprint risk is lower.

So let’s get to the cards that enable this effect, and which versions we should have ready to go.

It’s important to note that you have to be ready to go with untapped nontoken creatures. It’s also important that you have haste for everything, both for the ability from Ghired and having the new tokens attack immediately. Haste enablers will be a big part of these decks, and here’s some favorites:

Thousand-Year Elixir: nonfoils are available in the $11 range for List, Commander, and original Lorwyn copies. The only foils available are from original Lorwyn, and already quite pricey. The Elixir is exactly what the deck wants, giving your abilities haste and adding an additional untap to do the thing. Similarly, Magewright Stone in RVR’s retro foil frame has a similar effect and that’s $3, ready to rise.

Fervor: Classic, simple, straightforward and will see a minor bump. No special foils to chase yet, but there’s only 7th foil (crazy expensive) and Magic Origins foil (super reasonable $7)

Fires of Yavimaya: Worth playing, but it’s either 20 versions in bulk nonfoil or the original foil for $30.

Rhythm of the Wild – Retro Foils are four bucks from Ravnica Remastered. Definitely worth having some of those around.

Hammer of Purphoros – Foils are available for three bucks, plus you can turn lands into tokens and start the chain going.

Nahiri’s Resolve – Surge Foils from Aftermath can be had for three dollars, and there’s some great effects you might want to flicker.

Ghired lets us copy any token, and while creature tokens are the most common, there’s other ways to play that game. We want copies of sweet cards, not just creatures! We also want ways to copy our sweet creatures, instead of just making big tokens.

Lithoform Engine – Sure it costs a lot of mana, but the FEA at $10 is likely a winner here. Make the spell, get a copy, copy the copy!

Mirrorpool – Copying a creature you control in these colors isn’t easy, but foils are $8 already! Three nonfoil printings to choose from, so definitely look at foils here.

Bramble Sovereign – I own two dozen Borderless foils that I bought for much higher prices way back when. Now you can get in at $4 and go to town.

Flameshadow Conjuring – It makes a copy, which has haste. The copy Ghired makes doesn’t have haste but also won’t need to be sacrificed. Very few NM foils near $7, which might spike hard.

Hofri Ghostforge – Gets recursive value, and you can get FEA versions for $4.

Mimic Vat – A pet card of mine, always giving value as an exile for the other players, now you get a token too! Please remember the special LCC version for $4.

Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink – I didn’t know about this card but foils at $5 are just what the deck wants.

Rhys the Redeemed – Commander players love the best-case scenario for things, and Rhys is that. I like the DXM foils at $14.

Soul Foundry – Yes, you exile your own thing, but tokens! MIR foils at $7 are the play here.

Helm of the Host – There are three foils around $17, and all should see a modest rise. Can you imagine the shenanigans here?

The deck will also need some giant tokens to copy. These are just a few options:

Urabrask’s Forge – Tokens are trample, haste, and gloriously growing. FEA copies at $5 are my call.

Rite of the Raging Storm – There’s no foils, just several nonfoils, but the card is glorious in a Ghired deck and all versions should bump up some.

Budoka Gardener – Foils are $20, nonfoils under a buck. Take your pick.

Ghalta and Mavren – Showcase foil is underpriced at $2, and don’t forget the bundle foil exists.

Mask of the Jadecrafter – Easy way to make big tokens twice. Foils as a brick play might work out nicely.

Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter – Foils are near bulk but it’s the perfect card.

Nissa, Ascended Animist – Oil Slick foils are just $10!

Idol of Oblivion – Etched foils are already $12 but could hit $20. Only other foil is $3 and could go higher, good early and late!

Godsire – With Ghired out, you get it twice!  I would go for the $20 pack foils but there’s so few, the originals and the List copies should see their own bumps.

Roar of the Wurm – $6 for original foils, but $3 FNM foils are a good secondary choice.

Advent of the Wurm – Bulk pricing for the foils may not last long!

Armada Wurm – $2 foils are ripe for the picking as a mythic from 12 years ago.

Dragonmaster Outcast – BFZ foils at $4-$5 are where I’d want to be, but the Worldwake foils are near double that price and super mega rare. Remember, it was a small set from 15 years ago, and was only opened for a couple months before Rise of the Eldrazi came out.

Old One Eye – Surge foils at $4 are definitely the play

Omnath, Locus of Rage – I would go for Secret Lair foils at $14, given the tiny supply, but the regular frame foils at $12ish are also tempting.

Finally, Commander players are big on spells and effects that mimic the Commander’s theme. In this case, that means anything with ‘populate’ on it will see some action. Prepare accordingly.

Esika’s Chariot – The showcase foils are just $4, compared to where they were during their time in Standard.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker – Lots to choose from, and I’m not certain which version will take off.

Parallel Evolution – A classic enabler of token strategies, I’m paying attention to the original foils: 4 copies under $20, then they jump to $30.

Determined Iteration – Promo pack foils for $10 are my target here, since those are in lower supply.

Nesting Dovehawk – $8 for these two effects on one card is perfect.

Arboreal Alliance – To maximize its effect, the deck needs elves, but under $1 for big token and populating goodness is hard to argue with.

Life Finds a Way – $6 foil for a Jurassic Park card that does exactly what the deck wants. 

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.