All posts by Oko Assassin

Pro Trader: Dominaria United Breaks into Modern, Pioneer

Dominaria United (DMU) had an immediate impact on Pioneer and Modern tournaments over the weekend, which was a much-needed change after four months of lingering without new cards. Liliana of the Veil lived up to the hype, seeing significant play across Pioneer. This was generally expected, and I discussed this topic last week. But there were many other breakout stars from DMU that slid into existing shells along with a few that helps push old archetypes back into the spotlight. These early results will be studied further, tested, and refined in the coming weeks. The result will be that some of these cards will stick around while others will slowly fade away as quickly as they came. Let’s check out the new hot tech, shall we?

Leyline Binding was the most talked about Modern relevant card leading into last weekend and it did not disappoint. In the end, it was included in a combined 9 decks across two Top 32s from both Modern challenges over the weekend. This included two second-place finishes in different archetypes focused on Glimpse of Tomorrow and Indomitable Creativity. Both featured five-color mana bases, making Leyline Binding effectively cost one mana, which obviously is very good. Leyline Binding also did well in a Crashing Footfalls and a more generic good stuff build too. I will be curious to see if there is a backlash to decks leaning even harder than they have been into 4-5 color mana base in the next week or two via Blood Moon type strategies, but for now, Leyline Binding is having a fairly very large impact on Modern.

Over in Pioneer, Leyline Binding was only played in one Bring to Light/Niv-Mizzet Reborn deck, which is not that shocking considering the format lacks fetch lands that make Triomes so easily accessible.

Goblins won the September 3rd Modern Challenge, the first MTGO Modern Tournament that took place after the release of DMU. The deck was fueled by the addition of its new powerful two mana lord Rondel Hordemaster. This card is pretty crazy. A two-mana lord is pretty good in its own right, but in addition, this card provides card advantage to goblin decks every time a goblin dies, which is a regular occurrence already via combat or though Skirk Prospector, Mogg Fanatic, and Mogg War Marshal’s echo cost. Goblins will do goblin things – I expect this deck to pop in and out of the meta going forward based on the power of Rondel Hordemaster.

Streamer Aspiringspike was playing around with an Oswald Fiddlebender brew a while ago, but we haven’t seen much of the deck since then. But this week featured a new iteration of this deck that ended up in 3rd place. This new version is different than the old version but still leans heavily into Oswald Fiddlebender’s unique ability. It helps find the combo of Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek, which makes as many 1/1 flying thopters as you have mana. It will also set up Crackdown Construct/Lightning Greaves combo, which makes Crackdown Construct as large as you’d like (by equipping and re-equipping lightning greaves for free) and then attacking for the win.

I would love to see film of the pilot running this deck, which provides so many options it would take a significant amount of time to learn and optimize. I mention this deck here because Serra Paragon – a clearly powerful card – is featured with a full four copies. Interesting indeed. No doubt Serra gives the deck more reach and inevitability if it isn’t dealt with – similar to Lurrus prior to its ban – but at four mana making it a little slower, especially if it’s played on curve. And of course, it’s not a free companion. I’m hoping and looking forward to seeing more of this unique and interesting deck.

Although Sheoldred didn’t break into the Pioneer top 8 this weekend, the deck below did well and has potential moving forward. It also notably includes four copies of Liliana of the Veil – no surprise there. This deck’s curve is about as strong as it comes – with solid options in each key stop – plus additional ways to play a long game with Tenacious Underdog’s Blitz cost and drawing card via Castle Locthwain. This strategy is a great counterbalance to the other things going on in the Pioneer format right now – I hope it continues to do well.

Turning to Legacy for a brief moment, Shivan Devastator surprisingly snuck into the Top 8, in a mono-red list, while Vodalian Hexcatcher barely missed out, ending up in 12th place this weekend. While one-off Legacy finishes aren’t going to move paper cardboard, anything that does well in Legacy typically has potential in other formats. I’m going to keep an eye on these two going forward to see if they are one-hit wonders or perhaps something more.

Oko (@OkoAssassin) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2020 with a focus on competitive play and Magic Online. In his personal life Oko is a lawyer, father, ice-hockey player, runner, and PC gamer.

Pro Trader: Will Liliana Break Pioneer?

The announcement that Liliana of the Veil will soon be legal in Pioneer made Magic boomers everywhere rejoice! Liliana has long epitomized the good old days of magic, in which accruing value and 1-for-1’ing your opponent was a winning strategy.  

For those who haven’t played with this iconic necromancer, Liliana is a strong card because if you build your deck properly you can break its symmetry through discarding recursive threats, cards with flashback, or things that will later be reanimated. Its -2 forces your opponent to sacrifice a creature is important too – as is the ultimate if you can get to it – and when combined Liliana is a very well-rounded card indeed.

Power creep is real and whether Liliana is good enough in 2022 Magic is an open question. Most on social media assume Liliana will become a centerpiece of various strategies going forward – I tend to agree since Rakdos is already one of the best decks – but its success will depend on its tools, so let’s check out the cards that may benefit from Liliana’s inclusion in Pioneer.

Discard Spells

It’s rare to see Liliana played without targeted discard spells like Thoughtseize. This approach makes a lot of sense – the target hand destruction clears the way – permitting Liliana to land on turn three causing havoc to your opponent’s plans. While Thoughtseize may not be an actionable speculation target since we’re so far away from its most recent printing, those who are holding old border TSR reprints may be rewarded based on the additional demand for the best discard spell in the game.

Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger

Kroxa is a very strong card in its own right, but it gets even more powerful when you can pitch it into the graveyard for free while costing your opponent a card. Even better, Liliana fills up your graveyard, giving you the ammunition to escape Kroxa reliably. Current Rakdos Midrange builds in pioneer currently run one copy of Kroxa – I could see this expanding to two copies going forward in Liliana builds.      

Tenacious Underdog

The effectiveness of Tenacious Underdog will depend on the match-up. If your opponent is a combo deck, Tenacious Underdog likely doesn’t make the cut. But on the other hand, if you’re playing against a control deck, Tenacious Underdog can provide you with a threat that is resistant to removal and draws you an extra card every turn in the late game for four mana. When you pitch this to Liliana – you remove the mopey 3/2 creature and only heavily rely on the value of a free graveyard threat. This approach is much more effective and permits pilots to run 2-3 copies without too much risk, as opposed to the single copy that is typically run in current Rakdos builds.

Ob Nixilis, the Adversary

Ob Nixilis is getting a new fresh round of hype as people consider combining Liliana’s discard requirement with Ob Nixilis’s +1 ability. While Ob Nixilis is seeing a small amount of play in Pioneer currently in both main and sideboards, I’m a bit skeptical that two planeswalkers with the same mana value will gel together in the same deck. While both Liliana and Ob Nixilis are good in their own right, I’m just not sure they will be good together. I can see the potential synergies, but we’ll see.

Deathrite Shaman

Could Liliana make the powerful “1 mana planeswalker” playable in pioneer, i.e. Deathrite Shaman? I’m skeptical but would love to see it. One of the challenges with Deathrite is that fetch lands are banned in Pioneer. This leaves cards that barely see play like Fabled Passage as the only “fetch” option. But some Abzan Greasefang builds have been running four copies of Deathrite already – granted these versions of the deck are very fringe at this point. Perhaps when combined with Liliana, you could make Deathrite work for real as a mix of ramp, graveyard hate, and life gain. Doubt it, but could be fun.

A much less played variant of Abzan Greasefang.

 Greasefang, Okiba Boss

Speaking of Greasefang, its namesake stands to benefit tremendously from Liliana being legal in Pioneer. Providing a consistent discard outlet that is also a solid card overall would provide a lot to this deck that runs questionable cards like Raffine’s Informant. Liliana would permit pitching both vehicles (Parhelion II and Esika’s Chariot) plus Can’t Stay Away, which provides value with its flashback option.  

Unlicensed Hearse

Unlicensed Hearse is good under normal circumstances, providing main board hate to Pioneer decks like Greasefang, Phoenix, among others. But being able to come down on turn two followed by Liliana on turn three providing graveyard fodder forever compliments each other very well.  

Boost to Mono-Black Value?

It seems like forever ago now, but for a long time, Mono Black value was one of the top decks around, with these value cards being a core part of the deck. Liliana does a great job taking advantage of these cards’ ability to be cast from the graveyard. I’m not sure if that’s enough to combat the other big things happening in Pioneer at the moment, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

The four-drop spot stop in black decks is someone lacking currently. There are some powerful planeswalkers that play a supporting role, but very few cards provide as much value as Kalitas, which only gets better under Liliana. Currently when you play Kalitas you have to untap to gain incremental value. With Liliana on the board, you can play Kalitas and immediately -2 Liliana, gaining you a 2/2 zombie while exiling your opponent’s threat.     

Will Grixis Ever Become Viable?

I’m always shocked at how little play Treasure Cruise sees in Pioneer. I’m hoping against all odds that Liliana’s inclusion in Pioneer makes some new archetypes competitive, like Grixis featuring value cards like Treasure Cruise (due to filling up your graveyard), alongside cards like Nicol Bolas. I doubt it, but here’s to hoping!

Oko (@OkoAssassin) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2020 with a focus on competitive play and Magic Online. In his personal life Oko is a lawyer, father, ice-hockey player, runner, and PC gamer.

Unlocked Pro Trader: Succinct Selections

When life gets hectic, sometimes it’s better to cut a few corners to produce something, rather than skipping it altogether. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good, as they say. I’m moving to a new home this week so instead of delivering a comprehensive theme, I’m going to quickly share a few selections I’ve been watching personally and discuss the reasons behind my interest in each. Without further ado, let’s jump in!

Silence (Old Border Foil)

Arbitrage: $30 in EU, $60 in the USA

I didn’t realize that Silence was such a widely played EDH card until I sold an old border foil (OBF) from TSR for $60! This price was much more than I was expecting, which got me to evaluate this card more closely. It’s in an impressive 50,000 decks on Based on this, it should come as no surprise that the OBF version is doing so well!

Fortunately, for those of you with access to the EU markets there are copies of the TSR OBFs still available for around $30 each, which is less than the CardKingdom buylist currently at $42 cash. OBFs have been selling at a modest but steady rate on – so if you’re able to source cheap copies – you’ll likely have no problem making a quick buck on this card.  

Vanishing Verse (Foil Extended Art)

Current Price: $7.50
Potential Price: $18 in 18 months
Confidence: 7/10
Disclosure: N/A

Vanishing Verse is a solid removal spell, but its color requirements make it more challenging to include. Despite this in Pioneer it hits most creatures and several important planeswalkers and has been seeing quite a bit of play. As a result, Vanishing Verse is currently being run in Niv to Light, Esper Control, and Greasefang, among other archetypes. While I normally don’t like to spec on removal cards because they historically get replaced with more impactful spells over time – it seems to me that Vanishing Verse should have a few more years in the spotlight before it’s overshadowed in Pioneer. In Commander, it’s not an all-star but it’s in a respectable number of decks on at 11,275. Being two colors limits its ceiling – but these are still reasonable statistics when combined with its competitive play.

Vanishing Verse could easily be reprinted into a future commander deck due to the low price for the basic version of this card, which is why I would prioritize the Foil Extended Art versions of this card for any long-term speculation. We are roughly 16 months past Strixhaven’s release date, so new supply on this set should be relatively limited going forward and only 21 vendors currently have this version in stock.

Prismari Command (Foil Extended Art)

Current Price: $9.50
Potential Price: $20 in 18 months
Confidence: 7/10
Disclosure: N/A

Many of the same points about Vanishing Verse apply to Prismari Command, which is in a similar number of decks on decks – at 17,819. It also sees competitive play, but instead in Modern which is a larger driver of card prices in general. It typically sees play in archetypes that lean on its ability to either dump cards in the graveyard or to create treasure tokens, with the other two modes providing helpful support and flexibility. Most recently Indomitable Creativity lists have been running three to four copies of Prismari Command consistently. Despite seeing slightly more play in both casual and competitive formats, Prismari Command has more availability on than Vanishing Verse, with around 50 vendors having it in stock, which is surprising. Going forward I think Prismari Command will continue to see reasonable demand that will slowly drain its supply and pressure its price over time.

Oko (@OkoAssassin) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2020 with a focus on competitive play and Magic Online. In his personal life Oko is a lawyer, father, ice-hockey player, runner, and PC gamer.

Following a Few Clues from Goblin Charbelcher

The Modern Showcase Qualifier this weekend featured two Goblin Charbelcher (“Belcher”) decks in the top 8 from users victorjcoll1 and ZYX_Jerry. While Showcase Qualifiers are smaller, relatively high-stake events, in which the winner earns a spot in the Champions Showcase with its prize pool of $70,000 and a Pro Tour (Season 1) or World Championship (Season 2–3) invitation. A complete metagame breakdown can be found here. While Belcher decks pop up from time to time, it was very interesting to see not one but two in the top 8 for a premium MTGO tournament. This article takes a deep dive into the key cards of this deck that are run in multiple formats, which you may want to consider picking up sooner rather than later.

Below is the 7th place version of the Belcher deck from MTGO User victorjcoll1.

Goblin Charbelcher decks have had their ups and downs over the last year. Despite having success, many thought they would fade after the printing of the ultimate fair land destruction spell, Boseiju, Who Endures, which is a two-mana stone rain against Belcher. Critics of this deck were correct that Boseiju would see a large amount of play. It is currently the 5th most popular land in the Modern format, being included in 37% of decks, typically with two copies. But those critics apparently incorrectly assumed that Boseiju, or its predecessors like Cleansing Wildfire or Field of Ruin, would be enough to keep this highly unfair deck down.  

Many cards in the Belcher come and go but are not essential to the strategy, or are too narrow and are only good in Belcher decks to be trustworthy (I’m looking at you Irencrag). But there are several cards in this archetype that have cross-format appeal and deserve a much closer investigation.

Pact of Negation (Non-Foil)

Current Price: $10
Potential Price: $20 in 18 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: I own 33 copies.

Pact of Negation is a key card in several combo decks. Its purpose is obvious, allowing you to win the game during the turn it’s played, or alternatively, in the late game it’s an expensive awkward counter that is typically only used against a top threat. For decks like Belcher, it allows you to push through an opponent’s hate to combo off and win the game with very little downside!

In Modern Pact of Negation also plays an important role in Ad Nauseam, Storm, and Neobrand. All are very unfair combo decks that lean into what Pact of Negation does best. In Commander, Pact of Negation does extremely well too. It’s included in 74,500 decks on, which is about 10% of all blue decks!

Another reason I like Pact of Negation is because of its strong price history. The A25 version also fell to around $10 about a year after its reprinting, but then proceeded to climb to $40 before it was announced in Timespiral Remastered (TSR), combined with being in “The List” for a while. It’s hard to believe, but TSR was released in March 2021, nearly a year and a half ago. While supply is still fairly deep, Pact’s price has been holding steady thus far, and in my opinion, it’s only a matter of time until Pact of Negation begins to climb again!

Valakut Awakening (Foil Extended Art)

Current Price: $10
Potential Price: $20 in 18 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: I own 40 copies.

For the low cost of coming into play tapped, Valakut Awakening is able to selectively cycle away your dead cards and land in exchange for fresh new cards. At instant speed no less and it replaces itself! It is no surprise to see this card seeing competitive play, but typically decks run one or two copies as a backup plan like Omnath or Living End. But here, Belcher is running a full four copies! Love to see it. It has also recently been seeing Pioneer play in Jund Transmogrify and other Indomitable Creativity shells.

On top of seeing competitive play, Valakut Awakening is in 67,000 decks on This significant amount of commander play, combined with the Modern and Pioneer, is why I selected the premium version of this card. It’s unlikely that a better card filter card will be printed anytime soon that accomplishes the same flexibility as Valakut Awakening with such few downsides. Assuming a lack of premium reprint, all versions of this card should continue to climb.

Mythic Zendikar Rising Lands

A lot has been written about the Mythic Zendikar Rising lands since their release and this deck provides one more example why you should own a reasonable number of these lands. Some have missed their best entry points, but not all. They are essential for strategies like Belcher but are also role players in countless other decks and are strong EDH cards too.

Watch List: An Offer You Can’t Refuse (Promo Pack: Streets of New Capenna)

Current Price: $8

You may have noticed this sneaky little card is included as one copy in this Belcher list. An Offer You Can’t Refuse in many situations emulates a one-mana negate. For now, Belcher is one of the only consistently strong decks that include it. But at least one other fringe deck, Song of Creation storm, runs a full playset. While I’m not sold yet on An Offer You Can’t Refuse becoming extremely prevalent in competitive circles, I do think it’s worth keeping an eye on to see how it’s being incorporated in decks going forward. I could easily see this card becoming more mainstream, juicing demand for this card.

Turning to EDH, this card is in an astounding 35,000 decks on, which is extremely high for a set that released in April. To put that into perspective Swan Song is in 145,000 decks. At this rate, An Offer You Can’t Refuse is on track to be a mega staple in Commander.

Another question that is outstanding on this card is when will be peak supply? This version comes out of Promo Pack from Streets of New Capenna. It’s unclear to me whether we are currently in peak supply or if a solid amount of new inventory is coming to the market soon.

For now I’m keeping an eye on it, but don’t be surprised if you see it as a future pick.

Oko (@OkoAssassin) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2020 with a focus on competitive play and Magic Online. In his personal life Oko is a lawyer, father, ice-hockey player, runner, and PC gamer.