All posts by Oko Assassin

Let’s Discuss Affordable Pioneer Staples

I’ve been writing off-and-on for MTGPrice.com for a few years, but I’m pleased to report that going forward I’ll be publishing articles every Monday discussing developments in the competitive Magic scene and their potential implications on MTG card prices. I’m still working on finding my groove as a writer, so I hope you’ll provide your feedback (good and bad!) along the way via Twitter @OkoAssassin.

Prior to jumping into week-by-week specifics, I thought it would be best to zoom out first and look at the big picture. This week I’ll review a few current role players within the Pioneer format, and next week I’ll look at Modern. Once we have level set a bit, in future weeks I’ll begin to share a noticeable change in the key competitive formats and their potential impacts on prices.

Most players used to shrug when Pioneer’s name came up, but that all changed when WOTC made their long-awaited organized play announcement, which made clear that Pioneer would be a signature format going forward. The Pioneer metagame has been fairly consistent over the last months including a combination of the following archetypes, along with others:

  • Izzet Phoenix
  • Rakdos Midrange
  • Azorius Control
  • Boros Aggro
  • Burn
  • Mono-Green Ramp
  • Lotus Field
  • Mono blue/Bant spirits

While some of these strategies are more dominant than others, each plays an important role in shaping the Pioneer format. Cards that overlaps between multiple archetypes – or are otherwise unique – are often worth a look due to this format’s growth potential. As Pioneer becomes more popular, prices should increase going forward, albeit maybe slowly. Paper events are key here – if COVID locks down the world again, Pioneer will once again fall on hard times. So take all this commentary with a large grain of salt.

If you don’t think Pioneer matters, look at the price of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker – which is the 11th most played card in the format. It currently sits around $11 for an in-print rare! Similarly, the top played pioneer card Unlicensed Herse is around $15! Both get support from other formats – but I would argue that Pioneer is a key driver for the price of both cards. 

Many of the key pioneer stables are commons and uncommons, making them unattractive from a speculation perspective, even if they see quite a bit of play. Additionally, the number of mythics that see play is also relatively lacking, and most played mythics have seen one or two reprints over time or their prices are fairly high due to their lack of reprint. For these reasons, today we’ll be focused on evaluating a few played but potentially underpriced rares.

Supreme Verdict (Foil Borderless)
37th Most Frequently Played Spell in Pioneer  

Current Price: $10
Potential Price: $20 in 18 months
Confidence: 8.5/10
Disclosure: None

Supreme Verdict is a long-time staple in both Modern and Pioneer. Blue/White Control is fairly popular in Pioneer and these decks typically run three copies of Supreme Verdict. It’s also solid role player in EDH, being included in nearly 45,000 decks on EDHREC.com.

Absent another reprint the Double Masters 2022 Foil Borderless edition should do well over time – especially if you’re able to time this purchase at its lows. My guess is that these lows will be in December, while others are betting on today. I’m betting December because more collector boosters will eventually be opened and hype will wind down over time, but we shall see. Even at today’s prices, having this card go from $10 to $20 is not unreasonable and seems very likely.

Graveyard Trespasser
23rd Most Frequently Played Card in Pioneer  
4rd Most Frequently Played Creature in Pioneer  

Current Price: $3.00
Potential Price: $10 in 12 months
Confidence: 7/10
Disclosure: None

This card protects itself well even on the turn it’s cast, provides mainboard graveyard hate, and comes at a relatively efficient mana value. Personally, I used to not rate Graveyard Trespasser very highly until I played against it. All it takes is a few frustrating games to understand why this card is so highly played in Pioneer. This card has maintained a high price point on Magic Online for a while based on its high level of play, but that same enthusiasm has mostly not yet transferred to the paper version of this card. It’s a rare from AFR and the supply is extremely deep for the regular and showcase versions of this card. But the Double Feature version is relatively scarce by comparison. 68 copies of the Double Feature version sold already on TCGPlayer.com in July, which is very solid relative to current inventory levels. Assuming this card doesn’t fall out of the metagame – and isn’t reprinted in the upcoming Pioneer Challenger Decks (a risk in Orzhov Humans) – it could see solid gains going forward.

Old-Growth Troll (Foil Extended Art)
38th Most Frequently Played Card in Pioneer  
13rd Most Frequently Played Creature in Pioneer  

Current Price: $5
Potential Price: $15 in 12 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: None

About 13 percent of Pioneer decks run a full playset of Old-Growth Troll – and only a limited number of Foil Extended Art copies remain available at a reasonable price. The low supply is surprising considering that Kaldheim was cracked heavily by vendors leading to a seemingly never-ending supply. Mono-green has been a staple since Pioneer’s inception, so it’s unlikely to fall off the map completely anytime soon, although its power level has fluctuated over time. Combine all these factors together and I can easily see Old-Growth Troll increasing in price to $15 over the next year.  

Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance (Borderless)  
3rd Most Frequently Played Land Card in Pioneer  

Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire (Borderless)  
10rd Most Frequently Played Land in Pioneer  

Current Price: $5.50
Potential Price: $12 in 18 months
Confidence: 7/10
Disclosure: None

Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance, and Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire both see a reasonable amount of play in Pioneer. They both average a paltry 1 copy per deck, but they see play in many decks as they provide free value, in a similar way as Otawara and Boseiju. They do not see Modern play for the most part, which is reflected in their relatively low price point. Both also see solid EDH play as well, being included in 20,000 and 30,000 decks respectively. I believe cards like these seem underwhelming for now, but over time, they will continue to slowly grow in price as copies drain out based on modest but well-rounded competitive plus EDH demand.

Revisiting Original Commander Legends

The abject failure of Commander Legends: Bauldur’s Gate has been a stark contrast to the Original Commander Legends (CMR) set, which was an absolute hit through producing powerful new cards combined with a few impressive reprints. I’ve been a proponent of buying into CMR cards for a long time, yet the singles market for this set have not yet been able to overcome the significant supply of this set so far. I believe this has been due to several restock waves of CMR being available throughout it’s time in print combined with the high price point of several signature cards, making it profitable to mass open for a profit. But since boxes went out-of-print earlier this year, the averaged sealed price has started to climb, from under $100 (when I strongly recommended them), to $120 each. As boxes dry up and sealed prices climb, it seems inevitable that singles that are not on track for a reprint (Jeska’s Will, Training Center, War Room, and Commander’s Plate) will begin to climb in price now that reprint threats of Double Masters 2022 and Bauldur’s Gate are out of the way. This is especially true for those cards that look safe from a reprint due to their power level, price point, or based on history. Below are a few cards that exemplify this opportunity.

Jeweled Lotus – Non-Foil, Foil, and Extended Art

Price today: $82 regular; $126 foil; $160 Extended Art
Possible price: 50% increase in 12 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: Own a few regular copies

Jeweled Lotus isn’t a casual card. But despite this, Jeweled Lotus has been included in 91,000 decks, making it the 19th most played colorless card currently in EDH. To put this in perspective, here’s how it compared to other expensive colorless ramp cards:

  • 1,000,000: Sol Ring
  • 177,000: Mana Crypt
  • 105,000: Chrome Mox
  • 93,000: Mana Vault
  • 63,000: Mox Diamond
  • 44,000: Phyrexian Altar  
  • 31,000: Grim Monolith

Needlessly to say, this card is played a lot! It provides a unique affect that is a must-have for certain decks. We all know this – and I’m positive WOTC knew this when creating the card. They wanted a financial anchor for CMR – and they certainly got it with Jeweled Lotus. For this reason, the price for the most basic version has held firm since CMR’s release at $70+, at one point approaching $100.

While the Foil Extended Art (FEA) price of this cards is very expensive, its recent price history was what made me evaluate it for this article. When Jeweled Lotus crushed out of Double Masters 2022, the price for FEA copies jumped to $1,000, although this hasn’t been backed up yet by a sale. Regular copies haven’t seen a similar boost yet, but I think they will over time. I believe all the other version, non-foil, foil, and extended art, are on track to post 50% gains over the next year as supply drains from the market pressuring this card to new heights. Currently the extended art and foil versions have much lower supply, but they also come at a higher price point. Overall, I think they all will do well.

A solid comparison for pricing can be found I think in Mana Crypt after it’s Double Masters reprint. While the CMR Jeweled Lotus has a much higher supply than Double Masters Mana Crypt specifically, and is played less, it is also the first printing of the card, offsetting these factors. Mana Crypt doubled quickly after its Double Masters reprint and I think Jeweled Lotus can at least grow 50% in the next 12 months due to their similarities.

Opposition Agent – Non-Foil

Price today: $10.50
Possible price: $20 in 12 months
Confidence: 9/10
Disclosure: Own a dozen copies

Opposition Agent was as cheap as $7.50 at one point but it has slowly grown to over $10 once again. This isn’t too surprising considering 52 near mint copies sold in the first 4 days of July on TCGPlayer.com, and 531 copies in the last 30 days. That’s a lot of pressure, especially if the assumption is that mass box openings will become a thing of the past soon for CMR. Given enough time, this card seemed destined to double up to $20 with potential for more.

One of the reasons I’m bullish on Opposition Agent is due to its similarities to Hullbreacher, which was an incredible card that rightfully got banned. Opposition Agent is a similar card design, but isn’t quite as oppressive, making it relatively safe from bannings for now. Yet I think the taint of Hullbreacher being a mistake will make WOTC reluctant to reprint Opposition Agent because doing so would bring up old feelings of resentment about the card design that led to both. Additionally, Opposition Agent doesn’t fit well into a preconstructed deck. It causes too many bad feelings and requires an opponent’s deck too be at too high of a power level to activate Opposition Agent’s ability. These factors make me much more willing to dump money into copies of Opposition Agent – knowing that it’s probably safe from reprints in the short term.

Commander Legend Lands – Non-Foil

Price today: ~$7/each
Possible price: $15-$20 in 18 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: Own around 100 copies of each

We’ve all known that the CMR lands were going to be profitable, it was only a matter of time. I bought in about a year after release, based on the price history of the Battlebond lands. I was early. It was surprising to me how long they stayed cheap and how the price continued to sink until recently. In April you could get many of these CMR lands for around $5/each, which was well below my buy-in. Today copies will set you back around $7 each, which is still fairly reasonable all things considered. These lands are heavily played and should post strong gains as supply begins to drain.

The main caveat is that WOTC showed a willingness to reprint these lands earlier than I would have expected when they included Training Center in the upcoming premium Secret Lair Commander Deck: Heads I Win, Tales You Lose. There are a lot of unknowns about this reprint – both in terms of whether it will have a significant impact on the price of Training Center and whether WOTC will continue to put these lands in future Secret Lair Commander Decks. I assume these $100 Commander decks will continue, but how much equity they are willing to burn on lands within them is an open question.    

Blue Foils for the Win

Have you ever identified such a compelling speculation target that you’ve dreamed about it – perhaps in nightmare where you missed the opportunity and now the price has gone soaring? I recently had a bad dreams about Double Masters 2022 (2X2) booster boxes, which at the time were prices around $255 per box – a week later were up to $320 per box. Fortunately, after this dream I was smart (or dumb) enough to purchase several cases of 2X2, which are currently on track to be very profitable! While I have not yet had a dream about my first pick yet, that’s likely because I already took out a sizable position on it due to it being my first 10/10 confidence level selection. 

One factor I often use when evaluating potential selections is by looking at the quantity and type sold for any given card on TCGPlayer.com, which can be very illuminating. Typically, non-foil versions sell at a greater frequency for most cards, especially for products with collector boosters producing a large quantity of foils. But there are of course always exceptions to this rule. One exception is cards in many EDH decks that also have a limited number of foil printings. This is especially true for first time foils, for example Carpet of Flowers, which was first printed in foil in a Secret Lair Artist Series: Johannes Voss. This first-time foil started out at around $30 and continued to grow over time to $60 today. When combined with the other contents of this drop, this Secret Lair has doubled up in value in just one year.

I believe my first pick will replicate the success of Carpet of Flowers, if not more.

Secret Lair Kelogsloops Foil Edition – Including First Time Foil Mystic Remora

Price today: $39.99 plus tax
Possible price: $80 in 12 months
Confidence: 10/10

Mystic Remora is included in 117,989 decks on EDHREC, which is two and a half times as many decks as Carpet of Flowers. This is despite zero reprints until this new Secret Lair – in any form – which will finally put more eyes on the card. Impressive. The original printing of Mystic Remora from Ice Age was cheap for a long time, but over the last few years it had begun to climb to over $10. Absent this reprint, it would have been a $20 card in a hurry, and I think it still is on this trajectory given a little more time. Having a strong non-foil price is important to give foil copies a solid foundation to establish a favorable foil-multiplier. I expect foil Mystic Remora’s to start off reasonably expensive and begin climbing even higher after months of supply draining out.

The rest of this Secret Lairs’ contents are very solid as well, which is why I recommend the entire drop instead of buying singles post-release. This drop also includes Burgeoning, Utopia Sprawl, and Retreat to Coralhelm, plus any unexpected bonus card.  In particular, Burgeoning is a very solid reprint based on its inclusion in 30,000 EDHREC decks and current $20 non-foil price tag. Burgeoning’s current foil price of $70 doesn’t seem like a realistic comparison, considering it’s from the 2016 release Conspiracy: Take the Crown, but still, the foils should do well.

Lastly, the art of this drop is amazing, and it’s borderless to boot. This Secret Lair is firing on all cylinders and is about as close to a sure bet that we’ve seen in a Secret Lairs for a long time, assuming no other reprints of these cards in the short term.

Rhystic Study (Unstable Harmonics): Secret Lair Foil

Price today: $30
Possible price: $60 in 18 months
Confidence: 8/10

Everyone knows Rhystic Study is an S tier staple in EDH. It’s included in nearly 200,000 decks on EDHREC and is often featured by key content producers who focus on the Commander format. What you might not know is that the only affordable foil version of this card is starting to dry up fast. when the Unstable Harmonics version of Rhystic Study first hit the market, there were large bricks available as far as the eye could see. Vendors had 20, 30, 60 copies available for sale – and for a moment the price fell below $30/copy. But from June 1-20, 150 near mint foil copies have sold on TCGPlayer.com. There are still a few vendors with bricks available, including one with 48 copies, but it’s significantly less than a month ago and it’s only a matter of time until this version of Rhystic Study begins climbing significantly in price. Its current foil competition is the Commander’s Arsenal version which is $75 for a light played foil or closer to $100 for a near mint version. While it’s unlikely that this new Secret Lair version will catch up with a 10-year-old foil, it should be much closer to this foil version than the none foils, which is where it stands right now. I would wait until this card is officially crushed out of 2X2, before picking up your copies just to be safe. After that, it seems like this foil should be a solid steady gainer moving forward.

Spellseeker – Judge Foil

Price today: $80
Possible price: $150 in 12 months
Confidence: 7/10

Spellseeker is an incredible EDH card, providing a solid tutor effect on a body that can be repeated if flickered. It is in 36,000 EDHREC decks, including six percent of all blue decks. The only non-foil printing of this card is around $35, setting a high price starting point for the foil multiplier. This judge promo originally began circulating in early 2020, so we should be near the tail-end of supply. In April 2022, the price for the judge promo climbed to over $150, with a few selling at $200, before falling back to its present level. While fleeting, this highlights the solid potential of this version of the card. Given another year, I believe this card can once again become a $150+ card. While the original foil Battlebond version is slightly cheaper at the moment, that hasn’t held back other similarly positioned cards, and I don’t think it will be able to contain Spellseeker either.  

Aged to Perfection

It’s normal to focus one’s attention on upcoming sets to look for the next big thing. Everywhere you look content creators are focused on new sets and the reasons are obvious. Content creators want your attention, and nothing keeps the public’s attention like a shiny new object. Yet when it comes to producing reliable returns, often the predictable and boring leads the way.

It has been a little over one year since Strixhaven, Commander 2021, and Modern Horizons 2 released. While a little boring, and repetitive, looking back on these sets with additional data and hindsight provides a great environment to begin cheaply stocking up on key commander staples at prices not previously thought possible. Supply on these sets is still deep enough to suppress prices while giving you the ability to buy “bricks”, i.e. large quantities, which is my favored approach. This is especially true for commander products – whose single prices remain extremely suppressed while pre-constructed decks are still in print and widely available. As you approach the end of a product being in print, typically around two years, prices tend to rise as supply starts to diminish and others begin to see the writing on the wall. Here are a few cards from about a year ago that I believe are set up for long-term success going forward.

Modern Horizons 2: Sword of Hearth and Home

Price today: $9
Possible price: $25
Confidence: 9/10


The sword cycle has been highly successful and profitable over the years. The most recent example was the Sword of Truth and Justice, which at one point was only $9 and has since climbed to $25, in spite of modest reprint. Even its counterpart the Sword of Sinew and Steel was on track to post sold gains despite modest play patterns, moving from $8 to $13, only to have its growth stifled by the reprint in Modern Horizons 2. Despite only being out for one year, the Sword of Hearth and Home is on track to soon eclipse the EDHREC numbers of both the Swords of Truth and Justice plus Sinew and Steel together. That is impressive. While the supply is abundant right now, that will quickly change once Modern Horizon 2 goes out of print. This card has hovered around $10 for a while, but I don’t think it will last. Absent a reprint, this card will no doubt present an easy double up, and likely more going forward.

Commander 2021: Archaeomancer’s Map

Price today: $10
Possible price: $20
Confidence: 7/10

White has gotten a lot of good cards lately, but Archaeomancer’s Map was one of the first cards that started this trend. It’s a strong card that provides card draw and ramp in white – albeit conditional on its opponent’s actions. Despite being a little narrow due to its requirement of several basic plains, it has still has found a home in 8% of white EDHREC decks, with 34,000 inclusions total. The staying power of this card can be seen when contrasted with Monologue Tax from the same set, which is in half the number of decks and its price has collapsed to just a few dollars. Sales for Archaeomancer’s Map remain strong – only the affordable unlimited supply of Commander 2021 decks is holding it back which can’t last forever. Additionally, as the power of white in the color pie grows, this card could also see additional play because it will become easier to run white as a primary rather than as a support color.

Strixhaven: Wandering Archaic

Price today: $5
Possible price: $12
Confidence: 8/10


Right out of the gate, everyone believed Wandering Archaic was good and it’s launch price reflected that. For a long while, this card hovered between $6 to $7 dollars, but recently Wandering Archaic dipped to about $5, which is a significant discount from where it started. The card provides a relatively unique effect in a colorless card – something that Wizards of the Coast has publicly stated they are moving away from going forward. It’s also double sided, providing some flexibility, although no one is running it for the back half. It’s included in over 34,000 decks on EDHREC, which represents about 3% of all decks. This isn’t spectacular as a percentage, but it doesn’t need to be when the card is colorless. Supply is fairly deep due to continued mass box openings of Strixhaven by large vendors (which is surprising), so there is no rush, but once supply is cut off this card will likely rebound quickly based on its strong daily sales.