All posts by Travis Allen

Travis Allen has been playing Magic on and off since 1994, and got sucked into the financial side of the game after he started playing competitively during Zendikar. You can find his daily Magic chat on Twitter at @wizardbumpin. He currently resides in upstate NY, where he is a graduate student in applied ontology.

PreTQs, PTQs, and PTs: QQ

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By: Travis Allen

Did you catch Pro Tour Magic 2015 this weekend? It was Standard (inexplicably), and UW came out as top dog. The experience of watching the later rounds with Ivan Floch may have been familiar to those who watched Cifka win the Modern PT a year or two ago with Eggs, in which he had “won” the game but it was going to take ten to thirty minutes to execute the actual kill. Overall the entire thing was clearly defined by Sphinx’s Revelation and Thoughtseize. We didn’t learn too much useful information about what Standard will look like post-Ravnica, although it looks like Nissa is pretty legitimate. Ichikawa ran the full set with only nine forests in his deck to great success, so apparently the floor on how many forests you need for her to be good is quite low. Yet the biggest news of the Pro Tour wasn’t the cards or the decks, but rather, Organized Play announcements.

Helene Bergeot and the Organized Play (OP) team often use Pro Tours to roll out changes to the OP program, and this weekend’s Pro Tour was no different. The OP program encompasses things likes Grand Prixs, Pro Tours, Pro Tour Qualifiers, etc. This is the team that determines how many slots the PT has, how many pro points should be distributed on average at GPs, what constitutes silver/gold/platinum player levels, etc etc. At PTM15 there were changes made to GPs, PTs, and PTQs, with the PTQ change having the widest, most immediate effect on the most players.

Splitting the Baby

If you’ve been to a PTQ in the last year you’re probably aware they’ve been getting out of control. Qualifiers in Toronto have been easily clearing 200 players, and last year there was one that cleared 346 players or something obscene like that. Early GPs would have been easier to win than some PTQs are today. Clearly, a solution was needed. WOTC has decided that the way to tackle these monstrosities is to divide PTQs into two components, a local PTQ qualifier (PreTQ), and invite-only regional PTQs. Without just copy/pasting the article on the topic, the general idea is this:

  1. Any local store that could run a GPT can now run a PreTQ once per season.
  2. If you win a PreTQ, you qualify for a once-per-season regional PTQ. (There are sixteen in the US).
  3. If you top four (or top eight if there are >128 players) a regional PTQ, you win an invite to the PT and the airfare to haul you there.

The local grinder is going to find themselves in a situation where they’re attending three to maybe nine or ten PreTQs a season, depending how many stores in their area are able to run them and how far the player is willing to travel. Keep in mind there are sixteen weeks each season. Between SCG events, GPs, GPTs, and the new PreTQs, the dedicated player could be competing in competitive REL events nearly every weekend of the year.

On a side note, for the first time ever, I’m personally finding that instead of my quantity of play being gated by the frequency of events I can/want to participate in, I’m instead concerned about the entry fees of so many events. PreTQs will likely be $20-$40 depending on whether they’re constructed or Sealed. Between ~$30 PreTQs, $40 GPs, $80 SCG weekends, and the expenses of travelling to all of them, playing Magic is getting brutally expensive. If you’re good enough to be regularly winning prizes at the events you should be able to come out ahead, but that isn’t going to be the case for the majority of players.

In conjunction with the frequency at which players will be able to participate in PreTQs, there’s another important component to this. PreTQ seasons are not tied to specific formats. That means that any time a store runs a PreTQ, they have the choice of making it Sealed, Standard, or Modern. Aaron Forsythe has said specifically that if they find the distribution does not line up with what they’d like they will take the reins of PreTQ formats, but for the time being it’s up to store owners to decide which format is best for their store.

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Regional PTQs will still have their formats locked in by WOTC, but financially this is far less relevant than the free-form PreTQs. Because store owners can choose whichever format they like, there will be Competitive REL events in both Standard and Modern all year round. Gone is the Standard/Modern PTQ season and the increased scrutiny/prices they demand from the market. Instead, there is now going to be a much smoother demand for format staples year round.

If any random PreTQ can be Modern at any point, grinders are going to need to keep decks together and updated at all times. Instead of trading/selling singles out of season, they’ll be forced to keep them. Format staples like Snapcaster and Tarmogoyf aren’t quite as vulnerable to seasonal changes as role-players, but those role-players should become much more stable. You can see Spellskite’s price bounced around over the last two years as a banner role-player. With constant demand, these rollercoaster prices should be less frequent for well known quantities. You’ll still see wild price rides on flavors of the week that spike and drop drastically, but the cards everyone is already aware of should be much more stable.

spellskite

Standard will see this smoothing as well, although less so since FNM and SCG events ask players to keep cohesive decks together with more regularity. The effect will be most pronounced in Standard after the spring set is released. During the months of May through August (aka now) Standard prices take a real beating for a variety of reasons, one of which is that there’s no real reason for most players to keep up on Standard decks just a few months before rotation. A handful of Standard PreTQs during the summer months will incentivize a lot more players to keep their important rotating staples. It won’t completely shore up drooping interest and rotation fears, but it will help alleviate it.

This new world of constant PreTQs doesn’t seem like the best scenario for those of us looking to capitalize on markets in flux. The old PTQ system rewarded the types of people that kept on top of the cycles and the best strategies to profit from them. In other words, me and you. Annual repetition has been one of the best ways to make profit on MTG if you have patience. Pick up rotating cards, grab staples during the off-season, then ship them when demand rises. With PTQ cycles gone it will be tougher to generate value in that way. It will still happen, of course. Standard staples like the Temples are dirt cheap right now but will assuredly climb in the fall. But those types of opportunities going forward will be less obvious, less available, and riskier overall.

Mirrorweave

Another large change in the OP we need to care about is the standardization of Pro Tours. Or should I say the Standardization. Going forward, all Pro Tours will be Standard.

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I find this upsetting on multiple levels. Nothing but Standard PTs means that one PT to the next there will be far less diversity than we have in years past. The decks that do well at the Dewey Pro Tour will look an awful lot like the decks that do well at PT Khans. Does Thoughtseize crush PT Khans? Don’t expect Dewey to change that much. If all four Pro Tours last year were Standard, you can bet your sweet cheeks that Sphinx’s Revelation would have been in the Top 8 of all four. If you hate tier one Standard cards now, you are going to loathe them in short order.

Another facet to all of this is that we won’t be seeing superteams trying to break Modern once or twice a year. Putting twenty guys in a house for two weeks with a singular goal of finding the best deck in Modern is good for the format in moderation. They set the format, identify the pillars, and show the rest of us what to do. Then the general public tweaks the big decks over the following months, trying out new cards in their established decks until the next Modern PT when the pros reassess what the last few sets added. Even if it hasn’t felt like it lately, Modern PTs definitely have an impact on the format. There are eight cards on the Modern ban list that weren’t there at the formats inception, and all eight bans can be traced back to their respective performances in a PT. PTQs aren’t getting cards banned and changing the format. Without a Modern PT, the format is going to be considerably more stale, which will lead to less interest and less breakout cards. 

The most financially troubling part of all this is that we lose the Block Pro Tour. The Block PT has always been an odd duck, as it’s the only high level event that normal players never encounter. As removed as it is from the general player, watching it is a lot of fun and the information it provides is invaluable. Seeing what succeeds at the Block PT is a huge indicator of what the format will look like post-rotation. Without Block, we’re going to have trouble identifying which cards are the true key players in the upcoming Standard.

To see why this matters all we need to do is look back a few days. There were only a handful of unique M15 cards that showed up in the Top 8, and the painland cycle makes up roughly half of them. What M15 cards will matter beyond the lands and Nissa? PT M15 certainly didn’t tell us. If PT Journey had been Standard, we’d have no idea what this coming Fall would look like. PT Journey put Courser of Kruphix, Sylvan Caryatid, Kiora, and more on the map, giving us insight into what would be good once Khans hits. Obviously nobody expects those Block decks to translate, but it allowed Theros stars to shine without being drowned by Sphinx’s Revelation.

Without any of this information it’s going to be much more difficult to identify the fall pillars through the noise of the old set. Next year we are going to be a lot less sure about which Khans cards are going to be big role players once Theros rotates than we are sure about the Theros staples that will be good as Ravnica rotates. The silver lining here is that if you’re very good at predicting power levels you’ll be able to identify the Coursers when they’re only $2 and make an absolute killing when they inevitably hit $15+. Of course this is exceptionally difficult, and even the best don’t manage to identify the pillars consistently. Those that can read the format well will make even more money than they have been with fall rotations, but it will be much tougher for the average player to wring value from Block results.

The new PTQ system smoothes demand curves, removes annual price cycles, and obliterates many small vendors, leaving them with no good way to buy and no good way to vend. The PT change means we have less overall interest in Modern, less top Magic pros working on finding awesome Modern decks, and less information about fall metagames. Overall I’d say PT M15 was pretty bad for those of us interested in making money on cardboard.

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Turn Down for SDCC 2014 Roundup

By: Travis Allen

San Diego Comic-Con carried with it a slew of new Magic information as well as the return of the mixed-reception black-on-black Planeswalkers. Today we’re going to look at what came out of the event and see what we can piece together about the near future.

MTG-planeswalker-03

Jared spoke at length about this Monday, so I’ll keep this short. Wizards stepped it up a bit this year, as it comes with six walkers instead of five (due to multicolor Garruk’s presence). They even tossed in a Nerf Garruk’s Axe as well. Last year these promos mostly flew under the radar until it started leaking from the con floor that nearly all had been sold on Friday and that they may be unavailable Saturday and Sunday. Prices doubled and tripled on eBay within a few hours. This time around the set of walkers was a known quantity though, and the market was prepared. Sets hit eBay for $500-$700 initially in an attempt to cash in on the fervor of last year. The prices have since settled and it looks like they’re finishing under $400 right now on eBay. I’d expect we’ll see the floor on these within one to three weeks before a very gradual rise. If you want a set(s), start keeping an eye on completed eBay listings now. Like most of this type of product, it will be guaranteed to rise over the long term, but I can’t promise there aren’t faster ways to make money. I’ll personally probably grab a set so that I have it, but that may be about it. It is worth considering that this year’s crop of Planeswalkers is much better than last years. Liliana Vess has had strong casual demand for years, Nissa and to a lesser extent Jace could end up being Standard playable, and Garruk will definitely be popular in the long term.

Originally Liliana of the Veil was slated for M15, but they pulled her for power level concerns. Can you imagine what the SDCC version of that would have gone for in a few years?

The Magic panel was mostly about Khans of Tarkir and its prerelease, with additional info FTV:Annihilation, a new Duel Decks anthology, the Speed vs Cunning Duel deck, and Commander 2014. Let’s start small.

FTV:Annihilation is confirmed to have Armageddon, Wrath of God, Living Death, Rolling Earthquake and Cataclysm. Armageddon, Wrath and Living Death are mostly uninteresting. This will be the first foil printing of Cataclysm, so it should do pretty well. It may end up being the 2nd or 3rd most valuable card in the box.

Rolling Earthquake is the big ticket item here. English P3K versions are going for $150 at the moment. The printing here will probably pull that down a fair bit. We have two good prior comparisons: Loyal Retainers and Imperial Recruiter. Loyal Retainers used to be nearly $150 just two years ago when Commander’s Arsenal was released. Today, P3K versions can easily be found for $50. Imperial Recruiter hung around $280-$350 prior to the judge printing, and it seems like it’s still in that territory. The judge copy is a bit under $200 right now.

Why did Loyal Retainers drop so much when Imperial Recruiter held most of it’s value? I would guess it’s mostly due to playability. Retainers are only barely played in Legacy and not much elsewhere. Recruiters continue to show up in Legacy, albeit in more fringe lists. I’d also hazard a guess that Retainers show up in EDH and Cube a fair bit more, but that’s purely speculative. Regardless, the demand for Imperial Recruiters has prevented the P3K price from crashing like it did for Recruiters.

The question is whether Rolling Earthquake is an Imperial Recruiter or a Loyal Retainer. My guess is that it will behave much more like Loyal Retainer. The only people looking for Rolling Earthquake are guys with cubes and maybe a few EDH players here and there. Overall, there just aren’t that many people who need the card. This influx of copies won’t completely decimate the price, but I’m guessing that it will drop a fair bit, although it won’t happen overnight. If you’ve got copies you don’t especially need at the moment I’d probably ship them. If the price does drop you can reacquire for much cheaper in a year. If it doesn’t drop, you can just rebuy at the same price you sold it for down the road.

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Moving on, we’re getting a Duel Deck Anthology in December. It will be a reprint of the four original Duel Decks: Elves vs Goblins, Jace vs Chandra, Divine vs Demonic and Garruk vs Liliana. This is an overall win for most players and shouldn’t harm holders of the original sealed product much at all. It specifically says the reprints are in new frames, so the original sets will clearly be different. People holding the original sealed product won’t be harmed because those will still be the original run, while these will be a re-release that just won’t be the same. Imagine if they reprinted Superman #1. Even if they printed hundreds of thousands of them, the original’s price wouldn’t be touched. It will be no different here. As far as singles go, it’s hard to say. We don’t know what the distribution on these is going to be. I’d guess it will have a mild impact on the best singles, but it shouldn’t be too severe. I doubt these anthologies are going to be print-on-demand the way the latest Commander batch has been.

Commander 2014 has some exciting new Planeswalkers for us. The one spoiled is Teferi, Temporal Archmage. I’ve long talked/hoped to see old characters reprinted as Planeswalkers in additional product, and it’s great to see it come to fruition. The two big twists for Teferi are that he (and his cycle) can be your commander, and Teferi specifically grants you an emblem that allows Planeswalker abilities to be used as instants. This idea certainly isn’t new. It’s definitely cool to see, although I don’t see it Teferi specifically making a splash in any formats. If he let you use the abilities as instants right out of the box it would be one thing, but given that you only receive that privilege with the emblem, I think Teferi will be relegated to the 99 card realm.

The rest of the product should be nifty, and I’m curious to see who they release as the Planeswalker commanders and the cycle of old legendary creatures that never saw a card. The sealed product itself shouldn’t be brutally expensive, as Wizards has learned their lesson on distribution caps for casual product. However be aware that this release is probably too soon after last year’s Commander product for them to have fixed any True-Name Nemeses.

As for Khans, we got a decent sized dump of information. Khans is indeed the counterpart to Alara, being a shard set with official names for combinations like RUG and BUG. (The new names are not nearly as good as the Alara ones, by the way.) They made a point to say that Khans is a shard set, not a shard block though. If only a single set in the block is a sharded, I’m left wondering if we will see a tri-color land at all. It’s entirely possible we finish the Alara triland cycle at uncommon and see a more normal set of dual lands. I’m thinking that whatever they are, they won’t be come-into-play-tapped (CIPT) lands. The temples already force you to play the land tapped, and if the Khans land cycle does it as well, that has implications for the Standard format. I’d guess we may see something that gives you an option, akin to the Ravnica duals or the M10 checklands. Maybe we’ll finally get part of the Future Sight cycle? A Grove of the Burnwillows cycle would be an interesting complement to the painlands of M15.

Two things I do see this does ruling out is manlands and fetchlands. The manlands because of the CIPT, and the fetchlands because there is simply not going to be enough support for them. Each clan has it’s own mechanic, with morph being the sixth mechanic. (We’ll get to morph in a minute.) The last time we had fetchlands landfall was the predominant mechanic in the set. With five clan-specific mechanics, how are they going to make fetchlands matter as much as they should? The answer is that they can’t. When fetches come back they’re probably going to be alongside landfall, and there simply isn’t enough room for it here.

Speaking of mechanics, what are we getting? First of all, morph is confirmed to be returning. That’s a bit surprising, as I get the impression morph wasn’t all that popular the first time around. I’ve heard tales of how much Zombie Cutthroat ruined draft, so don’t expect any free morphing to show up. Most of the morph cards from days past are tribal, as a good majority of them showed up in Onslaught block. That limits how many reprints we’ll see. Flipping through all cards with morph, there are two that catch my eye.

The first, and potentially more lucrative reprint, is Birchlore Ranger. It’s a relatively unassuming common elf. A 1/1 for one that gives you a mana if you tap two elves. Seems unimpressive, right? The hook here is that Modern elves would kill for this card. Having access to Birchlore Ranger means Modern elves can play things like Beck without bending over backwards to accommodate it with mana. It also gives them access to all sorts of important off-color spells that will fill holes from other missing Legacy cards. If Birchlore is reprinted, expect Modern elves to become a lot more relevant. In this scenario Beck is a good choice, but we can go deeper. Cloudstone Curio may be what we want, perhaps Craterhoof Behemoth, or quite possibly something I’m not even aware of. In the event that Birchlore shows up again, start watching Modern elves lists like a hawk.

A second, less exciting reprint would be Exalted Angel. Exalted Angel won a Pro Tour I believe, and even if she didn’t, she definitely made her mark on Standard back in the day. A reprint would jack up the pack foil for sure, and possibly the judge foil if the art is different this time around.

What else will we see out of Khans mechanics? Delve is a reasonable safe bet. According to this tweet from the panel, the Sultai (BUG) is a resource manipulation mechanic. That can mean a lot of things, but one of them is certainly delve. There are only three cards in Magic’s history with the keyword already, and only one relevant one: Tombstalker. If Tombstalker is reprinted, does he rocket in value?

Not necessarily. The Modern Masters edition would certainly take a hit, as the any new printing will have the same border. Only the Future Sight edition would stand to gain. It may jump a bit if he’s spoiled, but I’m not convinced he’ll make enough of a mark on Standard to matter. He’s already legal in Modern and sees no play there, so the only place this reprint will matter is Standard. Once Ravnica rotates we are not going to have much left in the way of graveyard support. Sure he can be a 2 mana 5/5, but does that matter enough on turn six or seven? It’s possible that the rest of the Sultai cards will have some graveyard support, but I’m hesitant to say that Tombstalker will be strong enough. Considering the FUT foils are $20+ already, this seems easy to stay away from.

Another Khans piece of info is that the prerelease will not have five promos, but forty. Each color will have eight options. For example, if you’re playing green at the prerelease, you get to choose between Overcosted Hydra, Weak Hydra, Situationally Relevant Hydra, Giant Growth Hydra, and four other hydras. Assuming distribution is similar to past prerelease promos, this will serve to suppress the price on forty different rares instead of five. There were fifty-three rares in Theros, which means only about thirteen Khans rares will be potentially financially relevant. This doesn’t feel like too much of a departure from the norm, but now the cards we should care about are much more clear. If 75% of the rares in the set are promos, only 25% have a chance to really climb.

What’s most interesting about this is if this is a plan they intend to continue implementing. Born of the Gods and Journey Into Nyx only have thirty-five rares. Are they adding five rares to the small sets to keep up with the forty promos? Does that mean every rare will have a promo? They can’t all have alternate art, right? This will be pretty important down the road, but for now we simply don’t have much info.

One point that sort of slipped under the radar of most coverage is that the winter and spring set’s release dates have been moved. Apparently, the winter set will hit in January and the spring set will be releasing in March. For reference, Journey into Nyx was released May 2nd. Even if “Louie” hits the last Friday in March, the 27th, it’s still a solid five weeks earlier than JOU, and there will only be six or seven weeks between the winter and spring sets. That’s a rather breakneck release schedule after the first of the year. My guess is that the reasoning behind this is to put a little room between the “Louie” and a large announcement next summer; possibly Modern Masters 2. There was only a month between the original Modern Masters and Dragon’s Maze. MM stole most of DGM’s thunder, especially since the Modern reprints were so much more exciting than most of what DGM had in store. I’m not exactly sure what impact this will have on Khans block singles at this point. We’ll figure that out at a later date.

Moving the spring set back a month and a half really sets up a big product in early summer. If it’s not another Modern Masters, it’s sure to be something exciting.

There certainly was a lot to cover this year, and I don’t doubt that I missed parts of it too. If I missed something you want to discuss, plop it in the comments.

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Unobtanium

By: Travis Allen

I started playing Magic in 1993 or 1994; I forget which. I was young, as most of us would have been back then. This was the era when people unironically spoke of uncles that worked for Nintendo and Sega and claimed knowledge of special cheat codes that would make the characters in Mortal Kombat strip off their clothes. We played Magic at lunch mostly. Unsleeved decks with wildly imbalanced mana:spell ratios. I’m positive the decks were of no particular size. Card selection rarely moved beyond “all my green cards and black cards.”

What was amazing about this time was the total lack of information. The term “big data” is thrown around so much at academic conferences these days that it’s become embarrassing to genuinely use the term. In 1993 though, you knew nothing beyond your local playgroup. On the rare occasion that someone somehow obtained more cards, perhaps receiving a single booster pack as part of their birthday gift, you poured over them eagerly excited to see what other pieces of this giant puzzle existed. It really was a sensation that is so difficult to capture these days. It’s probably why I enjoy Dark Souls so much. It captures much of the “I have no idea what is happening and I love it” sensation from days past.

To this day I find I carry a strong visceral reaction to certain cards. It’s difficult to describe. Leviathan is probably the single card that best captures my memories of the game. Looking at the image on magiccards.info doesn’t really do it for me. I need to hold the cardboard in my hand. Copies from The Dark work best. When I grasp that card and gaze into it, attempting to lose myself in it’s aesthetic, I experience flashes of nostalgia that I can’t get manage anywhere else. Sometimes it’s the white font against the blue background, readability not a part of the lexicon of design back then. Perhaps it’s the way the tail disappears back behind the lighthouse, perplexingly descending from the clouds in a manner incongruent with your expectations a giant sea creature. It may be the offset mana symbols due to less printing oversight or the contrast between the ancient frame and the faded black border.

Regardless of what element of the card catalyzes these flashes of buried nostalgia, I find myself drawn to the original border. It is an icon of days faded, forever imbued with character and design flaws and mystery. The new border is fine, yes. It’s cleaner, easier to read, and meshes better with advancing mechanics. But it will never have the mystique and history of the original border. Whenever people tell me they prefer the new border I always feel a little sad for them, halcyon memories of childhood inaccessible with a simple piece of cardboard.

The result of all of this is that I acquire foil old border cards wherever possible. They help capture part of the magic of Magic for me. Mixing the history of the original border with the luxury of foils is my favorite way to collect. When was the last time you saw a mint foil card from any of the old sets? They are brilliantly shiny in a way that new foils completely lack. Some of the most beautiful Magic cards in existence are old border foils. (Henceforth OBFs.)

Normally when a new set comes out I’ll scan the spoiler for reprints, see if they had an older printing, and grab foil copies where possible. Off the top of my head I’ve got full or partial sets of Lay of the Land, Ray of Revelation, Llanowar Elves, Lightning Bolt, Last Breath, Worldly Counsel, and Naturalize.

When M15 was spoiled my process was no different. As soon as I saw the painlands I took to TCGPlayer to scoop up my foil Apocalypse copies. Let me tell you, “painland” could not be more appropriate.

Capture

Oof. $30+ apiece for a land legal in Standard for a single year that I may never actually have the chance to put into play. The worst part of this is that they aren’t getting any cheaper. Ever.

Possibly the most rock-solid place to invest your MTG funbux are OBFs. They may not rise quickly or often, but it is virtually impossible for them to get cheaper. No matter the card, copies will be limited by today’s standards. If they’re reprinted, the new copies will be in a different border, placing no strain on the original copies. Heck, as we can see with the painlands, reprinting of old cards actually makes the foils rise. Suddenly those foil Apocalypse Battlefield Forges that were listed at $6 forever are Standard legal and worth $20+ apiece.

Nearly every OBF is a great pickup simply because they have nowhere to go but up. Have a playset of foil UZD Yavimaya Elders? Great, it’s worth $60. If they get judge promo’d know how much your set of UZD ones would be? $60. If they get printed at common in M16 know how much your set of UZD ones would be? $100+, easily.

Demand for OBFs is not rooted in playability, but collectability and luxury. People collect them because they’re beautiful and original and unique, not because they need them to play a tournament. M11 Lightning Bolts are a buck. The only OBF of the card is $250. This is really what makes them the bastion of value that they are. It would be incredibly difficult for Wizards to print something that would devalue these cards. You think the Onslaught foils of Flooded Strand and Polluted Delta are expensive now? Wait until they show up in a fall set.

All of this leads to a simple but painful conclusion. The best time to buy an OBF is now. Whether you’re reading that sentence on 7/23/14 when this article goes live or three years down the road in 2017, it is still accurate. This conclusion is painful because many of these cards are already astronomically expensive. Those ONS foil Flooded Strands are $300, but the fact of the matter is that they aren’t getting cheaper. If you want them, acquire them sooner than later. This time next year one of two things will be true. They’ll either still be $300, or they’ll be $500+ because they were announced for the fall set. The one thing that won’t happen is that they’ll be less than they are today. Maybe you’ll be in better economic standings next year so you decide to wait, but just remember that you’re playing chicken with a train that you can’t see coming.

The absolute best place to go of course is actual reserve list OBFs. Reserve list cards are already gold, and grabbing OBFs – of which by my quick and almost assuredly inaccurate count there are under thirty – is icing on the cake. Just start at the end of this list and work your way backwards. What are some of the best choices?

Replenish – EDH staple and Legacy combo piece. Just because it’s not busting Legacy open right now doesn’t mean it can’t down the road.

Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary – Absurdly powerful legendary creature in one of the most popular tribes of all time? Can’t go wrong.

Metalworker – Inspires entire combo decks in Legacy and enables shenanigans in EDH.

Academy Rector – Another dormant Legacy combo piece that’s also popular both in EDH and casual circles.

Palinchron – EDH staple and generator of infinite mana.

Grim Monolith – EDH staple, Legacy and Vintage busted mana acceleration.

Deranged Hermit – Possibly the wackiest OBF on the reserve list. He’s the godfather of a silly beloved tribe that will always have a place in the heart of a subset of players. 

Old border foils are some of the most visually striking and iconic cards in the game. Their supply is miniature and chances of price surges reasonable. If reprinted they will gain value, not lose it.The worst case scenario for any of them is that Wizards reprints them in the original border ala Timeshifted cards, but even in that case it would merely slow their growth, not decrease their value. If you’re like me and you love the look of old border foils, now is the time to start buying. It’s painful, but it’s only going to get worse.

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M15 Review: A Year Late

By: Travis Allen

M15 is the love letter to players M14 should have been. There are a lot of new powerful cards including four new Planeswalkers, a few old favorites revisited, the fourth entry in the decade run of You Make the Card, and an entire run of guest designed cards. I haven’t seen people this jazzed about a core set since M10.

I wrote an introduction to set reviews just last week so I’m going to copy it here:

It’s important to remember when reading any set review that we are forced to evaluate cards in a pseudo-vacuum, but they never exist as such. When I look at Brimaz I have to consider the card individually, free of whatever the metagame looks like that particular month. Brimaz’s text box isn’t going to change but the cards other people are playing are. I need to focus on what concrete information I have available to me. Because of this set reviews are especially challenging. I have to look at Brimaz and make an evaluation based strictly on the words printed on the card, but his true worth will be dependent on the cards around him, a pool that will change significantly over time. Cards that are excellent right now may have been trash in an alternate timeline. It would be easy to construct a Standard environment where Desecration Demon is crap (such as INN-RTR,) or where Prime Speaker Zegana is a chase mythic. Even the hallowed Jace was bad at release since there wasn’t a single other playable blue card in the format and Bloodbraid Elf + Blightning threatened to shut him down as soon as he resolved.

The point I’m making is that when considering this review, and all other reviews, it’s important to be good Bayesians and recognize that a powerful card should be good and a weaker, situational card should be bad, but the constraints of the format around them, complete unknowns to the hapless reviewer, will be the true determining factor in identifying whether a card is a bulk mythic or a $20 rare.

I’ve structured my review to identify which cards are bulk, and of those that aren’t, what I think their prices may be around this fall’s rotation, and sometime about six months from now in January, ahead of the second Khans set. Anything in the bulk section means it’s cheap now ($2 or under) and will still be cheap at basically all points.

White

Bulk
Avacyn, Guardian Angel
Mass Calcify
Resolue Archangel
Spectra Ward

 

Ajani Steadfast
Ravnica Rotation: $10-$12
Six Months: $8

I’ll outline a few rules of thumb for evaluating Planeswalkers, since we’re going to be doing it a bunch this set. It’s important that a Planeswalker be capable of protecting itself. If you play it into a board where you have no threats and they have one guy or two small guys, can the Planeswalker keep itself alive? What’s the mana cost look like? Four and under and a walker can reasonably be considered competitive. Over four and the bar is much higher. Elspeth is an example of an exception to the rule. Finally, how flexible is the walker? Koth required your deck to have a critical mass of actual Mountains to be worth running. Nissa Revane wanted you to play a pile of elves. Jace, The Mind Sculptor…wanted you to be capable of paying for his mana cost. That’s it.

Ajani isn’t the hottest at protecting himself. There’s no body generated, which means that if you don’t already have someone to run interference he can’t make one. What’s worse is that his +1 is a total blank without anything in play, so you can’t even run him out into certain death to try and grind some advantage, as you can with Jace, Architect of Thought. On the other hand, his mana cost is quite friendly. There have only ever been two other XC Planeswalkers; Chandra Firebrand and Garruk Relentless. Firebrand was a flop but Relentless was important his entire time in Standard. A four mana walker with only a single colored symbol is quite flexible in its applications, which will help him find plenty of homes. Given how his abilities work, that is clearly critical for his success.

Ajani can’t do much at all on his own which is going to keep him from the big leauges. JAoT drew cards. Domri (sometimes) drew cards. Elspeth creates an army. All of them could gain advantage on an empty board, which Ajani can’t. What he does do for you is provide awesome support for your team. One solid creature on the board makes his +1 pretty legitimate. You get a “free” attack because of the vigilance as well as a nice buffer of life. His -2 is worth at least five mana if we’re looking at Gavony Township as the bar, and his adds counters to other Planeswalkers as well, which is certainly worth something.

Since Ajani requires support in play you can’t run him as a four-of. Being almost entirely relegated to a pair or perhaps set in most lists will prevent him from climbing much. I anticipate he’ll see some mild success in aggro or midrange GW builds, and if a Bant walkers style list pops up he’ll likely have a slot. He should keep dropping towards $10 as we come up on Khans, and by next January he’ll probably be pretty close to his floor in the $7-$10 range.

 

Hushwing Gryff
Ravnica Rotation: $2-$3
Six Months: $1-$3

Most recognize that Gryff’s impact will be felt mostly on Modern, which is the format that will primarily be responsible for driving the value. A flash Torpor Orb that attacks is pretty cool, although dying to half an Electrolyze is sort of a bummer. Thalia isn’t more than $6 and she’s better in more places, so I don’t think Gryff can climb above that for awhile. I also don’t believe there will be enough demand for his ability in Standard for his presence there to matter much, although if Khans is an ETB-heavy set it could do a bit better. Overall I’d mostly expect him to fare a tad better than Spirit of the Labyrinth.

 

Preeminent Captain
Ravnica Rotation: $1-$2
Six Months: Bulk-$2

Preeminent Captain was over $5 before the reprint, so clearly there’s some demand for this effect. He was printed in Morningtide though, which is one of the sets most poised for inflated prices in modern Magic. This second printing should satiate most all the casual demand and unless we get some sicknasty soldiers in Khans, he’ll probably function as reasonably popular card in some white aggro build. Unfortunately for him there’s only ever going to be one deck that wants him, which means his price is pretty capped.

 

Return to the Ranks
Ravnica Rotation: $1-$2
Six Months: Bulk – $6

This isn’t going anywhere before rotation, so let the price get nice and low before you buy any copies you want. The format is likely far too hostile for this to matter yet.

It’s after rotation that this gets interesting. Clearly the card is powerful; most who write set reviews with an eye towards playability have taken the time to discuss it. What really seems to set up this card is that there is a lot of graveyard interaction showing up in M15, possibly hinting at a graveyard theme or subtheme in Khans. If that’s the case then the resources this really needs to take off could be coming. If they do this may end up as a tier one or tier two deck ala The Aristocrats. If we don’t get enough enablers, it will relish in barley-bulk levels as FNMers try week in and week out to make fetch happen. A card like this is really difficult to provide a price for since it so wildly depends on what the format looks like. Instead I’m telling you what we need to see for it to matter. Watch for my Khans review to see if it looks like the seeds are planted.

 

Soul of Theros
Ravnica Rotation: $6-$8
Six Months: $4-$7

Hey remember about twenty seconds ago when I said we were seeing an oddly large amount of graveyard interaction in a core set? Well look at that! An entire mythic cycle of clearly Standard playable creatures with graveyard interaction.

SoT is one of the better souls. If you can afford him you can afford his activated ability, which a single attack with can completely turn the game around. Even if he’s your only creature you’re still threatening a sixteen point life swing while still holding up a 6/6 to block. His graveyard ability is also excellent in midrangey decks, letting you threaten a massive combat trick at all times after turn six. As a 6/6 with vigilance and two solid abilities, I like SoT’s chances a lot. The only thing really holding him back is that he shares a casting cost with Elspeth.

Soul of Theros should tick down between now and rotation as it’s unlikely he will explode out of the gates, but he won’t drop too far because people will be eager to see what happens after September. This time next January it’s more probable that he continues to slip towards $5 with mild to moderate use, but anything is possible. I don’t expect him to be $12-$20, but I recognize it as a possibility if he becomes one of the marquee cards of the set.

 

Spirit Bonds
Ravnica Rotation: Bulk – $2
Six Months: $1-$4

This card has flown under the radar a bit, but it’s definitely capable of being a big player in Standard. Getting an extra 1/1 flyer out of every creature you play is quite valuable for attritiony decks, and having a way to turn those tokens into indestructibility is just icing on the cake. Like most M15 cards I don’t expect this will have an impact by the time rotation comes around, but there’s certainly a real chance this could become a $2-$3 rare at least as things shake out. Score these as throw-ins where you can.

 

Blue

Bulk
Chasm Skulker
Jalira, Master Polymorphist
Master of Predicaments
Mercurial Pretender
Polymorphist’s Jest
Stormtide Leviathan

 

Aetherspouts
Ravnica Rotation Bulk – $2
Six Months: $1-$5

Evacuation is $2 with six printings. Cyclonic Rift is $3+ with a positive outlook. Aetherspouts is in the same family. You won’t get to flip all their artifacts and enchantments as you do with Cyclonic Rift. Instead you either get a pseudo-wrath by forcing them to pile creatures on the bottom of their library, or you set their draw step back several turns with perfect knowledge of what’s coming. It’s possible to play around but if they’re doing that they’re not attacking, so you’re getting virtual advantage from that alone. I see this getting played as a pseudo-wrath in blue decks that don’t have access to whatever sweeper we end up with. It will probably hang around in the $1-$2 range, but if the pieces come together just right it could reach $5. I know Adrian Sullivan’s RUG list I was playing this year would have really enjoyed having access to this. Another favorite card of mine, Prophet of Kruphix, can really provide a platform for this to shine.

 

Chief Engineer
Ravnica Rotation: Bulk – $2
Six Months: Bulk

This guy is undoubtedly cool, and there’s precedent for this effect being expensive in the form of Mycosynth Golem. The problem is that there are going to be so many more copies than Golem and it’s unlikely we’ll have enough real support for him in Standard to matter. Even Grand Architect couldn’t break the few dollar barrier and that was in Scars of Mirrodin when my trade binder had eleven or twelve pages of artifacts. Engineer may indeed sneak into something in Modern since the support is so much more robust there, but if that does in fact happen the in-print rare is not going to be the expensive card in that deck.

 

Jace, the Living Guildpact
Ravnica Rotation: $8-$10
Six Months: $4-6

Jace isn’t nearly as bad as many others think he is. He’s immediately capable of flipping their biggest threat back to their hand, so he passes the first Planeswalker test, even if it is a bit pricey to do so. We certainly can’t be upset about his mana cost. He doesn’t require anything specific out of your deck construction, which is great. The starting loyalty is excellent, which is a sort of protection as it is. His ultimate is pretty dang strong. The only real issue is that his +1 appears to be on the weaker side of things. It’s better than scry one, but probably a bit worse than scry two, since if you flip two lands you can’t ship them both to the bottom. Not getting a full mana’s worth of value out of his +1 is pretty tough. Of course, you’re almost definitely getting the requisite amount of value out of that +1 if you have cards in your deck you want in your graveyard. Like, hmm, maybe Souls or whatever else Khans brings us.

Jace is not going anywhere in the near future. We won’t know how potentially relevant he is until we start getting Khans spoilers. Assume that there won’t be any heavy graveyard payoff and trade him away accordingly, but check back in to my review at Khans to reassess. Nearly every Jace has been under-received relative to their actual playtime thus far, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that is happening again.

 

Soul of Ravnica
Ravnica Rotation: $1-$3
Six Months: $2-$4

Chapin is a fan, although he thought the activated abilities were 3UU, not 5UU. At five mana the abilities are insane. At seven mana they’re merely fair. SoR is not going to take over a game immediately in the way that SoT may but it’s ability to draw you cards on command for as long as it sits in play will definitely dominate the long game. Even if they Thoughtseize or Doom Blade it you’re still going to have the option to just get paid on any end of turn you wish. A 6/6 flyer for six that draws you one to three cards as needed is a serious threat. It’s not as splashy as SoT or Soul of Phyrexia but it’s definitely got the power to hang. It’s on SCG right now for a mere $3 which seems low as it’s probably in the better half of Souls, but this is because it’s one of the DOTP promos. There will be enough extra copies in the market to keep the price fairly suppressed unless it becomes a major component of the Standard landscape.

 

Black

Bulk
In Garruk’s Wake
Indulgent Tormentor
Necromancer’s Stockpile
Stain the Mind

 

Liliana Vess
Ravnica Rotation:$5-$6
Six Months: $4-$5

M15 will make the sixth time this particular iteration of Liliana has been printed. In spite of this she has carried a $10+ price tag until now. Clearly the casual demand is there. Like most reprinted walkers, her price will decline in the short term but by this time next year, and perhaps even sooner, she’ll start rebounding a bit. Liliana will be a solid grab when she bottoms out.

 

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled
Ravnica Rotation: Bulk – $2
Six Months:$1-$3

I was conflicted about where to list Ob Nixilis. At first I was going to list him as bulk, but the appeal to the EDH crowd was enough for me to include him. He won’t matter in Standard unless we get fetches in Khans (which I put at < 5%,) but he will have fringe playability in Modern and reasonable demand in 99 card formats. I admittedly don’t see him showing up too much in Modern, but it’s possible there will occasionally be decks that want access to the effect. In EDH he’s pretty nifty as he can really stymie opponent’s board development, and anything that sweeps a bunch of smaller guys away will turn him into a legitimate threat pretty quickly. I like foils of Ob Nixilis down the road.

 

Soul of Innistrad
Ravnica Rotation: $2-$4
Six Months: $2-$3

Even though he’s in the right colors for Standard success, SoI’s ability isn’t especially splashy. It’s most surely grindy and attritiony, but it doesn’t read as exciting as SoT or SoS. He loops back around to that potential graveyard theme we were discussing earlier. If it shows up, he could be a serious component of the metagame as an enabler of all sorts of shenanigans. If not, he’ll most just be a 6/6 that grinds out value over the long game. In the latter situation he won’t see enough play to drive his price much. Meanwhile there will be reasonable EDH demand for this guy in a way that we won’t see on most of the others in the cycle. It’s hard to imagine a black deck that wouldn’t be happy with this ability. Like Ob Nixilis, foils will be juicy targets.

 

Waste Not
Ravnica Rotation: $4-$6
Six Months: $1-$4

Waste Not occupies a space few other cards do; it is drenched in casual appeal, yet also possibly pushed hard enough to be playable in Standard. As an added twist of flavor it’s the You Make The Card card. That alone won’t save the card, but it certainly won’t hurt it either.

Liliana’s Caress is a $3 uncommon so there is precedent for this type of card being worth a reasonable amount. This will slowly drop while it’s in Standard and copies make their way into unsleeved kitchen table decks everywhere, but sometime between December and July it will start to pull back up again. This is all assuming that it isn’t good enough to make it in Standard. Thoughtseize is certainly a reasonable enabler and if we get another incidental discard effect that’s playable on its own this could make it into FNMs. If that happens the floor on this will only be $2-$4 before it starts to climb again. I just wish Whispering Madness wasn’t rotating.

 

Red

Bulk
Aggressive Mining
Burning Anger
Crucible of Fire
Goblin Kaboomist
Hoarding Dragon
Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient
Siege Dragon

 

Chandra, Pyromaster
Ravnica Rotation: $5-$7
Six Months: $4-$10

Like Liliana, Chandra will take a dip in the meantime but will climb again once we get past M15. Unlike Liliana, Chandra is a good bit more powerful and therefore much more likely to show up in Standard. In six months time she may not have caught on again, and if that happens, she’ll be near her floor. If she does end up doing work before then, perhaps alongside Prophetic Flamespeaker, a rebound into double digits is plausible.

 

Goblin Rabblemaster
Ravnica Rotation: $1-$3
Six Months: $2-$4

We know this card is playable because it’s the Buy-A-Box promo. He’s also a goblin, which continues to carry casual demand, as Krenko has illustrated. These prices I’m giving you are basically his floor at those given times assuming he sees zero to mild Standard play. If goblins is A Thing in Standard, he could easily reach $6-$10.

 

Soul of Shandalar
Ravnica Rotation: $3-$5
Six Months: $5-$10

Soul of Shandalar may end up being the best of the bunch. First strike means SoS is going to win nearly every battle she (?) gets into. The activated ability continues to pressure people’s life totals while eating small blockers. It can even be used to put some damage on a high-toughness creature ahead of first strike damage to take down large targets in combat, effectively making her a nine power first-striker when you have five mana up. She’s a nightmare to block and is capable of dealing damage straight to the face even if you can’t get through for some reason. She really does it all – she attacks well, she can pressure a life total through a clogged board state, and she can remove smaller targets.

I think that SoS may be the best in the Soul cycle. It likely won’t get there before September, but SoS will be poised to do great work in Standard once things shake up a bit. If her play is on the lighter end of things she’ll probably be $5 or so. If she ends up being a top ten card in the format then $10-$15+ is possible. Watch the Pro Tour closely to see how she performs; this could end up being one of the most lucrative cards of the set in the mid-term.

 

Green

Bulk
Hornet Nest
Hornet Queen
Kalonian Twingrove
Life’s Legacy
Phytotian
Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

 

Chord of Calling
Ravnica Rotation: $6-$8
Six Months $4-$6

If you didn’t see this coming you weren’t paying attention. As soon as they announced convoke as the returning mechanic it should have been clear as day that we were getting Chord. Wizards has shown time and time again that they can and will reprint Modern cards that need it.

For a little while Chord held the lauded role of the most expensive card in Modern that didn’t deserve it. It’s since dropped to a more “reasonable” level of $30, but that price was sustained because of the very limited supply of a Ravnica rare in conjunction with Pod regularly being the best deck in the format. Now that Chord is a core set rare, that price is going to get absolutely crushed. The supply here will be more than enough to satiate the Modern demand for the card, which means the price will fall accordingly. Original Ravnica foils will still command a premium, but that’s the only thing that will withstand the glut of new copies.

 

Genesis Hydra
Ravnica Rotation: $1-$2
Six Months: Bulk – $5

I can’t quite figure out what I think about Genesis Hydra. You basically never want to cast this for anything less than X=3, so he’s really a five or six drop at best. Paying five mana for a 3/3 and hopefully a little something else for your trouble is reasonable, and it gets much better quickly. Putting seven mana in is almost always going to be worth it. At X=5 you can get a 5/5 and “settle” for a Polukranos all for seven mana, which is a real sweet deal. Seven may sound like a lot but most green decks, especially ones with Nykthos, can get there without much effort.

The prevalence of Caryatid and Courser certainly bodes well for Genesis Hydra, and the type of deck Hydra is good in would probably want him as a three- or four-of. Will that deck and his performance in it be good enough to push him into the spotlight though? It probably depends heavily on what good two, three, and four drops we get. Reclamation Sage is a pretty great place to start, as is Banishing Light. If we get another solid ETB four drop and maybe a two drop he could climb up to at least a few bucks. If the support doesn’t quite emerge he’ll end up in the bulk bin.

 

Nissa, Worldwaker
Ravnica Rotation: $17-$23
Six Months: $15-$30

I’ll let others gush about Nissa. Suffice to say that she’s dang powerful, and is in exactly the color that can get her into play soon enough to be extremely threatening. With cards like Genesis Hydra and Nykthos to pair with her land untapping, the seeds are sown for a big mana list. The only thing preventing her from flat out being the unquestionably best walker in Standard is that it says “forest” instead of “land.” She’ll still be powerful, but any deck that runs her is going to need a critical mass of forests, which will restrict her utility.

If she sees enough play out of the gate her price will not drop at all. I’m not expecting her to make big waves immediately though, as Lifebane Zombie is still going to put too much pressure on anything too reliant on green creatures. She should slip until rotation, but probably not by too much. Not only will Standard brewers want to get their hands on copies, but casual demand will really help shore up price loss. It’s tough to say where she’ll be by January. If she sees very minor play in standard she’ll be in the $12-$15 range just on FNM and casual demand. If she’s played to moderate success, as Kiora is/has been, expect her to be closer to $20. If the Khans land cycle amazingly has land types or if we’re on the verge of the green renaissance, she could easily be $30. All we can really do is wait and see.

 

Soul of Zendikar
Ravnica Rotation: $1-$3
Six Months: Bulk-$2

If there is a green renaissance, it probably isn’t going to involve this guy. Reach is useful but isn’t nearly as strong as flying or trample. Making 3/3’s is fine but activating it once doesn’t have the power to take over a game like some of the other abilities. It’s also likely the worst one from the graveyard. Add in that he’s a promo for DotP and we’ve got a bulk mythic.

 

Gold

Garruk, Apex Predator
Ravnica Rotation: $18-$25
Six Months: $5-$12

Is Garruk cool? No doubt. He’s big, his first +1 is splashy, and he’s got four abilities. Unfortunately cool doesn’t equate with value. It’s possible he could come down and take out an Elspeth and run away with the game, but what is far more likely is that he makes a 3/3 deathtouch then eats a Hero’s Downfall or Banishing Light or Detention Sphere or Dreadbore or [Khans PW removal spell]. This is all assuming you’re still alive when you get to seven and he hasn’t been Thoughtseized.

When Nicol Bolas came down he either destroyed the best permanent in play or gained control of it. There were also no spells in the format that said “destroy target Planeswalker.” The times have changed, and Garruk is just not going to do enough when he resolves for how easy it can be to top deck an answer. Even if they don’t have the removal in hand, Garruk could easily tick up three times, die to a found answer, and not have done enough on the board to win the game. I certainly like Garruk, and he’ll be fun at FNM, but I doubt he’ll be able to hang.

The price is high right now because he’s the marquee Planeswalker. As demand from the casual market is sated and tournament results continue to lack his presence, his price will slip further and further. He will rebound eventually and start climbing, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get as low as $5-$8 before he does.

 

Sliver Hivelord
Ravnica Rotation: $8-$12
Six Months: $4-$8

Maybe Slivers are competitive for the last two months of this Standard, but I doubt it. What’s more likely is that a few people try it at FNM and it can’t withstand the assault of Mono-Black and Mono-Blue. Hivelord will fade from relevance after rotation, and the price will keep dropping until it begins to rebound sometime next year. This will be a great card to drop at the floor though.

 

Artifact/Land

Bulk
Avarice Amulet
Grindclock
Haunted Plate Mail
Obelisk of Urd
Phyrexian Revoker
Shield of the Avatar

 

Perilous Vault
Ravnica Rotation: $4-$7
Six Months: $5-$10

Oblivion Stone climbed towards $15 during its height before being reprinted. Nevinyrral’s Disk was a major factor in multiple formats over the years and remains several bucks. Perilous Vault is a powerful artifact in this same vein.

Exiling is a big step up from destroying in nearly all situations. The biggest exception that comes to mind is if you control a Wurmcoil (RG Tron), but the damage from that can be mitigated. Universal sweepers aren’t typically available to all colors, but when they are they’re greatly appreciated. All is Dust is a solid $15+ despite existing as a GP Promo. The effects of Vault will not be felt immediately, but it will probably come out to play multiple times over it’s tenure in Standard. Not only that, it will show up in Modern, Legacy, and EDH. While no format is likely to see it become a pillar, it will be an important tool in each. My expectation is that Vault will behave similar to many mythics that will have a smallish impact in Standard but are needed for other formats. The price will drop for a time, but will rebound and continue to grow, possibly upwards of $20, after enough time has passed.

 

Scuttling Doom Engine
Ravnica Rotation: $1-$3
Six Months: Bulk – $5

Salvaged Mirrodin art aside, is Engine it? Is a card with a name as stupid as Scuttling Doom Engine the sleeper of the set? We’ve got a colorless 6/6 for 6 that can’t be blocked by Carytid, Courser, or Elspeth Tokens that can kill most Planeswalkers (and sometimes players) if it dies. If you connect with Doom Engine just one time and then Doom Blade it you’ve done twelve damage to your opponent. Unless they chain this guy to some rocks or Path to Exile gets reprinted, he’s going to be a headache for most challengers. Factor in cards like Chief Engineer that set up even faster Doom Engines or graveyard recursion and you’ve got a solid plan in any color that wants it. I could easily see this at $10 if it ends up being one of the best rares in the set, which is entirely possible. If it slips into bulk status I’ll probably snag a bunch.

 

Soul of New Phyrexia
Ravnica Rotation: $7-$10
Six Months: $4-$6

Indestructible on demand is useful, but I’m not sure it’s “better than all of the souls in my colors” useful, especially at five mana per activation. The activated abilities of other Souls are basically relevant at all times, but this guy really only can pay you if they’re threatening a huge board state or have non-exile removal. Other than that, he’s “just” a 6/6 trampler. That’s obviously nothing to shake a stick at, but competition is fierce these days. I think I’d rather have Doom Engine most of the time, honestly. I’m willing to be wrong about this though.

SCG has preorders at $15 which just feels real high to me. If this was instead listed at $6 I don’t think I would find it odd. Unless this card is just way better than I think it is it will continue to slip towards the $5 range.

 

The Chain Veil
Ravnica Rotation: $3-$5
Six Months: $2-$4

Chain Veil is a very cool card, hands down. While the wording may be inelegant, it has in fact been confirmed that this can ‘go infinite,’ with say a Ral Zarek, Nissa, and four forests. (It’s not actually infinite infinite because if you use Ral’s ultimate and fail all five flips you can’t keep untap the Veil, but at least you get infinite Planeswalker loyalty.) It will be popular in some EDH decks and in casual circles, but I have real trouble imagining this being good enough in any other format. The price will drop for awhile, but like Perilous Vault, this will be a great pickup at its floor as casual demand will continue to push it towards $10 without a reprint.

 

Sliver Hive
Ravnica Rotation: $2-$3
Six Months: $1-$3

Barring a breakout Standard performance, Sliver Hive should settle in the low dollars range. Casual appeal will keep the card out of bulk status, but it won’t climb north of $5 for quite some time.

 

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Ravnica Rotation: $7-$9
Six Months: $4-$7

The price on this won’t drop too rapidly, but by January the market should be pretty well saturated. I’m not anticipating heavy Standard play on this guy and my price expectations reflect that. A single copy will be a freeroll in anything that plays black, but that’s just one lonely copy. It’s tough to imagine what deck wants four of these. I do really like foils though. The PLC foils are a solid $50. The M15 ones could easily be $30-$40. Right now they may be preordering for around that, but if they drop towards $20 I’d be happy to trade for them.

 

Painlands
Ravnica Rotation: $2-$4
Six Months: $2-$4

The fact that the price of all of these lands started rising after they were announced in M15 is a testament to how little many people understand about card value. Once the initial wave of M15 hits the prices should settle nicely in the few dollar range, with Shivan Reef perhaps being a tad more than the others thanks to more Modern demand. The M10 Checklands showed us that despite an enormous quantity in the market the price on quiet staple lands can still hang around a few dollars. I expect no different here.

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