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

The Mana Math for Murders at Karlov Manor

New set, same issues. They give us percentages and counts and then it’s up to us to figure things out for what exactly that means. Luckily, I’ve got years of practice in doing exactly that.

We’ve got a new type of booster to talk about, we’ve got The List, Special Guests, and more serialized cards! So many sweet things to talk about and hopefully make some great decisions that pay off nicely.

Play Boosters are here!

Reminder about The List and Special Guest: “Special Guests and The List cards can appear in non-foil in Play Boosters, while only Special Guests can appear in traditional foil in Collector Boosters.”

Here’s how the odds work: First, only 1 in 8 Play Boosters has any of these cards, and even if you get a booster with one of these, you don’t have equal chances at each. We are given the percentages, and the number of options, and then it’s just division (odds/# of cards) and then take the reciprocal for the number of packs required to open a specific card.

Special Guests(10)
1.56% of boosters
(approx 1 in 641)
The List Commons/Uncommons (30)
9.38% of boosters
(approx 1 in 32) 
The List Rares/Mythic Rares (10)
1.56% of boosters
(approx 1 in 641)
Crashing Footfalls
Drown in the Loch
Fabricate
Field of the Dead
Gamble
Ghostly Prison
Show and Tell
Tireless Tracker
Tragic Slip
Victimize
Bishop of the Bloodstained
Burden of Guilt
Cavalier of Thorns
Combine Chrysalis
Consign // Oblivion
Duskmantle, House of Shadow
Enlisted Wurm
Ghost Quarter
Gnaw to the Bone
Goblin Warchief
Hard Evidence
High Alert
Krosan Tusker
Kuldotha Rebirth
Laid to Rest
Leonin Relic-Warder
Magmaw
Maverick Thopterist
Mentor of the Meek
Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot
Millstone
Mistveil Plains
Mystery Key
Nyx Weaver
Putrid Warrior
Quintorius, Field Historian
Shard of Broken Glass
Spell Snare
Stromkirk Captain
Syr Konrad, the Grim
Treacherous Terrain
Death Cloud
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
Baleful Mastery
Ixidor, Reality Sculptor
Molten Psyche
Mass Hysteria
Monologue Tax
Ranger-Captain of Eos
Worldspine Wurm
Cavalier of Thorns

Price analysis: Holy hell, it’s going to take roughly 17.8 boxes to nab one copy of a Special Guest or a rare/mythic The List card. You will open one common/uncommon The List card every box (very likely, anyway) and even have a shot at two of them in your 36 packs, but goodness, the rares are rare indeed. 

For those who are worried about Special Guests being in large quantities, put those fears to bed. A playset of the new Crashing Footfalls (nonfoil) will require approximately 71 boxes of Play Boosters. (Want foils? I’ll explain the math in a moment, but it’ll be roughly 111 Collector Booster boxes!)

Sometimes the Collector Boosters have lots of things in lots of different slots, but this time, almost everything we care about is focused in the final slot of the pack:

Of note: the third from last slot, the one with all the Commander cards in Extended Art, will be almost completely nonfoil. Some sets, we get foil EA versions, but not this one. The only foils to be found in that slot will be Foil EA treatment versions of the eight mythics that are the commanders for the decks, and each one of those eight has a 1.06% chance to show up in foil. You have the same odds for nonfoil too.

So let’s have a table with the options for the last slot, of which there are many. The math plays out the same way: The percent chance of a card from a category, divided by the number of options, gives you the odds for a certain card. Then take the reciprocal to get the number of packs required to hit that specific card.

Type/Rarity (# of options)Percent 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
Traditional Foil Showcase Dossier Invisible Ink Mythic Rares (14)8.4%0.6%166.67
Traditional Foil Showcase Magnified Frame Rare (8)9.5%1.19%84.2
Traditional Foil Showcase Magnified Frame Mythic Rare (1)0.6%0.6%166.67
Traditional Foil Guild Leader Ravnica City Mythic Rare (3)0.9%0.3%333.33
Traditional Foil Guild Leader Ravnica City Rare (4)2.4%0.8%125
Traditional Foil Guild Leader in Showcase Dossier Mythic Rare (3)0.9%0.3%333.33
Traditional Foil Guild Leader in Showcase Dossier Rare (4)2.4%0.8%125
Traditional Foil Showcase Dossier Mythic Rares (13)15.4%1.19%84.4
Traditional Foil Showcase Dossier Rares (11)6.5%0.59%169.2
Traditional Foil Borderless Mythic Rare (1)0.6%0.6%166.67
Traditional Foil Borderless Rare (11)13.1%1.19%84
Traditional Foil Special Guest (10)3%0.3%333.33
Traditional Foil Extended Art Mythic Rare (4)3%0.75%133.33
Traditional Foil Extended Art Rare (29)33.3%1.15%87.08
Serialized Double Rainbow Foil Retro Frame (7)<1%See BelowSee Below

The City Frame and Dossier versions of the Guild Leaders add up to make them as common as any other mythic or rare. This is commonly done when there’s extra versions of a card that might cause a problem, because there would be that many more copies of that card out there.

From this list, we can see that the foil Special Guests are a difficult pull indeed. You’ll have the same tough odds for the Guild Leaders in mythic rare, either version. (Remember, together they add up to other mythics!) This tells me to keep an eye on these cards, but preordering them looks like more than I’d want to cough up. If the preorder is too high, then even with these odds, I’d need crazy growth to resell profitably.  The only one close to that is Ghostly Prison, whose preorder price is about the same as the Secret Lair version, making the margins too thin for my taste.

However, it’s worth noting that the foils and the nonfoils might be close in price. It takes 641 Play Boosters to snag a nonfoil Special Guest. The foils require 333 Collector Boosters. We aren’t given precise counts on either type of booster, but we should keep those relative counts in mind as the set goes on and the prices move. 

There are only 1,750 serialized cards out there from this set, 250 each of three mythic rares and four rares. All of them are guild leaders in the City frame: 

Mythics:
Rakdos, Patron of Chaos
Trostani, Three Whispers
Vannifar, Evolved Enigma
Rares: 
Aurelia, the Law Above
Lazav, Wearer of Faces
Niv-Mizzet, Guildpact
Teysa, Opulent Oligarch

We’re told it’s less than 1% to pull any serialized card, so let’s have a table for what the options are.

Our estimate is that there’s between 2 million and 3.5 million Collector Boosters made for a set like this, based on figures for annual revenue and other such sets. So instead of saying ‘Less than 1%’ we’re estimating it to between 0.09% and 0.05%. This means you’re going to hit any serialized card every 1,150 packs to 2,000 packs, or if you prefer boxes, roughly every 96 to 167 boxes. If you want the odds for hitting a specific serialized card, you’re talking 8,000-14,000 packs to get that card, or 667-1167 boxes. 

Given those odds, I wouldn’t be shocked if the prices for these cards started out sky-high. There’s less of these than there were for the Elven Sol Ring, but the play pattern/collectibility for the cards couldn’t be more different. These are clearly meant for folks who want the serialized cards as the Commanders for their decks, and I suspect the first couple of these will sell for very high prices, but it should trickle down to something more reasonable over 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.

Ravnica Remastered, by the numbers

One of the side benefits of doing the math for every set that comes out is that when we know the drop rate and number of serialized cards, that gives us an upper limit to the number of Collector Booster packs out there.

And with that piece of information, plus the drop rates of the other cards, we can extrapolate a lot of useful, clear data. 

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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.

Judith Speaks, and the world trembles

One of the things I try to keep an eye on is when we get cards that do something new. We’re getting a whole lot of Clue goodness and investigation, but one of the rares in Murders at Karlov Manor does something we really haven’t seen before:

This is Judith’s second card, the first being the Scourge Diva, definitely not someone to mess with. This time, she costs more mana but brings a truly gamebreaking set of abilities. Giving any instant or sorcery both deathtouch and lifelink is busted right in half, and whenever we get a new legendary creature like this, I think, “Would I build this deck? Would it be fun?”

My answer: Heck yes.

So today I want to go through a first pass of things that might take off if Judith gets her 15 minutes of fame. We’re going to have to be quick here: the set drops February 8, and the first decks should be getting built not long after. If she gets popular, it won’t last very long, and I’ll want to move these out quickly. I’m imaging that this will be a fad, not a long-term crazy popular Commander.

Let’s talk cards!

For each card, I’ve listed the current lowest price and the current highest price. 

First of all, there are around a dozen spells that cost from one to four mana that will deal one damage to each creature you don’t control, and I would start with every single one of those. Some are rares, like Impending Flux and might really take off. Most are commons and cheap, and it’s hard to predict which common foils could jump in price. I’m expecting small movements there, nothing huge, but I think we’ll see a lot of common foils go from ten cents to a dollar.

Disaster Radius (Bulk to 75¢) is another card with uneven applications. It’s tougher to use, given the mana cost and the creature requirement, but I’ve no doubt of its potential. Plus, it’s a single printing foil released in 2010. 

Volcanic Vision (Bulk to $2.50) – There’s not a lof of ‘get the instant or sorcery back’ in mono-red, but we get that regrowth effect on top of damaging everyone else’s stuff! Again, only one foil for the perfect card means there’s value to be gained.

Searing Touch (50¢) and Fanning the Flames (50¢) – These two are the star of the show. Buyback is exactly what Judith wants anyway, being able to recast spells over and over again. Slaughter and Evincar’s Justice, plus Lab Rats, should all bump a little but these two that deal damage are going to be tremendously flexible, dealing lifelink/deathtouch damage or giving you a 2/2 to go with the damage. 

Blasphemous Act ($2 to $22) and Chain Reaction (50¢ to $10) – Both of these will end up killing Judith because they damage all creatures, but since the spells gain lifelink, it’s reasonable to think that you’re going to gain a boatload of life as a result. Sometimes you need a grand finale, baby!

Chain Reaction has been printed a bunch of times, but its only foil is from Worldwake, a small set in 2011. The supply is miniscule and I won’t be shocked to see $20 or $25 for the foils. Blasphemous Act is a card with a boatload of printings, and the Secret Lair version is just awesome in the horror movie-esque frame. 

If you want to play more ‘damage all creature’ spells, you’ll need a little protection for Judith:

Mithril Coat ($9 to $60) – The fancy versions of this are under a lot of pressure, because the Coat is so so good at protecting any Commander who needs to stay in play. That’s most decks, so get your personal copies now.

Darksteel Plate ($7 to $14) and Hammer of Nazhan ($8 to $10) – Plate has seen a few printings, but these are close to the same card, and considering how much mana you need for Judith and how the deck needs her to be in play, a little insurance goes a long way.

Once you’ve gained a bunch of life, now what?

Well of Lost Dreams (50¢ to $120) – This is a great way to pay off the big lifegain into some extra cards, and we might even see some serialized cards get bought.

Aetherflux Reservoir ($10 to $300) – What to do when you’re at 94 life? FIRE THE SPACE LASER!!

Solphim, Mayhem Dominus ($10 to $32) – A lot of your spells will deal one damage, and while it doesn’t matter much if that’s got deathtouch, it’s also got lifelink. So you really want to gain that extra life and deal that extra damage to players. We’ve got a few ways to do that, and Solphim can get indestructible pretty easily here. Oil-Slick versions would be my first stop.

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell ($2 to $17) – If damage is good, more damage is better. We ought to see bumps in Fiery Emancipation and City on Fire as well.

Toralf, God of Fury ($3 to $6) – This will be terribly fun with spells that deal more than one damage.

Brash Taunter ($3 to $6) – I will enjoy ending a game with this card. Only one fancy foil version to target!

Stuffy Doll ($1 to $11) – The only problem here is, there’s more than one foil and so it’ll be hard to know which to target.

Fire Servant (50¢ to $8) – An uncommon from 14 years ago, there’s a deeper stock on the Premium Deck Series but those foils are kinda slick and ugly. I’m surprised that there’s never been additional copies printed.

Neheb, the Eternal ($7 to $32) – If you’ve dealt a lot of damage in the first main, would you like a boatload of mana in the second main?

Blood for the Blood God! ($3 to $8) – Surge foils from 40K are getting targeted intermittently, but really, there’s no card more perfect for this deck. Lots of things have to die, but you’re built to do that. Then this will dome your opponents and refill your hand.

I’m already at my word count, and over by a fair margin, so here’s a group of cards that reward you for making sure there’s no other creatures in play, or for doing lots of killing. I don’t think these are must-includes, but they are high on the list of cards I’d put into the first draft of the deck. We’ll see what EDHREC says in a few weeks.

Painful Quandary ($1 to $10)

Mogis, God of Slaughter ($7 to $18) – SL copies are likely the winner here

Kaervek the Merciless (bulk to $2.50) – foil-etched are your best bet

Tergrid, God of Fright ($7 to $14)

Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger ($2 to $140)

Massacre Wurm ($2 to $14)

Crimson Honor Guard (under 25¢) – no foils available

If you build a Judith deck, reach out to me on Twitter or in the ProTrader Discord, let me know how it plays!

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.

Really Reconsidering Ravnica Remastered Reprints

Sometimes, you just can’t help a title. Alliteration is just so much fun!

Ravnica Remastered is official today, and while the preordering has been fun, it’s also emblematic of the clobbering that prices are about to take. This is a reprint set, so everything exists already and the goal/expectation is that regular copies are going to end up notably cheaper than they were.

This reprint set is made up of lots of special versions too! Borderless, Anime, Retro-Frame, and even Serialized versions will be available too! In previous reprint sets like this, there tends to be a spread of prices for the different versions, with the more basic ones getting to a low price indeed.

The good news is, we can get those basic copies super cheap once these cards hit their lows. So today, I want to look at my favorite targets to drop low before reaching new highs in a few months. I don’t think the rebound will be faster than six months, and I also wouldn’t be shocked when it takes a couple of years.

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

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.