Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Mystery Solved!


Normally I’d be all over the Mythic Championship, held at MagicFest+ Richmond, which included a Hall of Fame induction and some more changes to the Players Tour…and I can’t keep it going. Why is high-level Magic so confusing?

My true interest, though, has been these damn Mystery boosters. I can’t remember the last time a set was completely unknown until packs started getting opened, and that’s an experience I love. I dive right into other peoples’ Cubes, and the only thing I want to know is if it’s got Power in it. Fresh Magic experiences are to be savored, and Mystery didn’t disappoint.

We are going to get the official card list on Monday, but there’s already some things we know and some things worth acting on…

First of all, the only new cards revealed so far (subject to change come Monday) are the Playtest cards. These are printed cards made to look like Wizards’ own internal playtest cards, which are stickers slapped onto older cards. (A friend of mine who designs games once said that the greatest thing Magic ever did was put millions of free cards into the hands of would-be game designers, and now the circle is closed!)

The Playtest cards are super neat and do some really interesting things. They are all marked as “Not for Tournament Play” and I imagine that individual Commander groups are going to decide for themselves if they are going to allow someone to play a Sliver Eldrazi, or the dying-to-be-broken How To Keep An Izzet Mage Busy.

Financially, the Playtest cards are going to struggle to be expensive. Every MagicFest is going to have Mystery events and this will be a thing until they run out of packs sometime next year. There might be one or two that are expensive because of niche appeal or the meme value (e.g. Dr. Richard Garfield, PhD.) but these sorts of things, even if rare, aren’t automatically expensive. I stocked up on foil Cogwork Librarian back when Conspiracy first came out, and over five years, that card hasn’t budged. The Conspiracies from CN2 are the same way. Hard to use and incredibly powerful, the niche wasn’t there and they aren’t expensive.

If you want to collect the Playtest cards for fun, do so. Magic is really catering to those who like different things, and there’s been a run of stuff worth collecting for the fun even if the long-term value might not be amazing: the JPN alternate walkers, the Showcase frames in Throne of Eldraine, and now these. I don’t anticipate the full set of Playtest cards being a super-chase item though.


More relevant financially is that the set is otherwise 100% reprints, and it’s not the Pioneer Masters people predicted/hoped for. It’s a Chaos Draft + Future Sight environment, one where the packs are seeded for color but not rarity. Here’s Gavin Verhey on Twitter: “Each pack has 2 C/U of each color, 1 Multi C/U, 1 artifact/land C/U, 1 playtest card, 1 M15 forward R/M and one pre-M15 card in its original frame.” Theoretically, a pack could have 13 uncommons. Or 13 commons. In browsing streams and Twitter, I saw that the pre-M15 card was occasionally a rare, so double-rare or double-mythic packs were possible too.

Notably, no foils. That’s a big ouch for the people who paid $75 to be part of the first event.

We were told this morning by Mark Rosewater on Tumblr that the game store version of Mystery will not have these playtest cards. Most likely, that’s a foil slot opening up but we will see.

Now, the reprints. They are keeping the original set symbol but these are reprinted cards, and are marked as such by a planeswalker symbol in the lower left. These cards were reprinted direct from the old card files, so the old copyright date and original printed text are on the cards. Odd aesthetic choice, but what the heck.

Thanks to the efforts of people participating in the Discord channels (and really, you ought to be a participant) we’ve identified 15 mythics and 62 rares, as of Monday morning, as well as some reprints in the common/uncommon slot that are notably expensive.

Given that these packs are going to be opened at MagicFests for the next year or so, plus the amounts of Mystery packs going to local stores, I’d expect that all of these prices take a small hit. Keeping the original look, including original set symbol, but adding the planeswalker symbol is probably equivalent to a new card with a new set symbol.


A couple of cards you ought to know about:

Bloom Tender ($50 nonfoil/$300 foil)

Eventide was a small set, and was the last set before Magic’s rebirth in 2009 with Magic 2010 and Zendikar. Stock was never high on this card, and every time it wasn’t reprinted, the price ticked up more. I’m glad we are finally getting more copies of this on the market. It’s not the most broken mana generator, but it’s capable of some disgusting jumps in mana. 

I would expect the originals to lose maybe $10 or $15, before stabilizing. The new ones are going to end up in the $15 range once the initial feeding frenzy ends.

Mana Crypt ($190/$250/$400 Invention)

Let’s take a moment and toast a card that has gone from $50 a bare eighteen months ago to $150 now:

Then let’s reflect on what a new influx of supply means. Is Mana Crypt going to be $50 again? Probably not. EMA was pretty heavily opened by drafters and collectors alike, and we’ll see if Mystery gets the same level of attention. Is it a $75 card? Maybe $100 fresh from a pack? I’m not sure where it ends up but I do know that when the Mystery packs are no longer being opened, I’ll want to pick up a few of these for the inevitable rise. The only worry about this card would be a Commander banning, likely on the same day that Sol Ring gets hit. (So, basically never.)

There’s a lot more to come, but I’m already over my word count and the full list is coming. Maybe we won’t get foils after all? Let’s find out Monday!

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.


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What the heck just happened?

I think that Wizards really appreciates Commander as a format. If it hadn’t been invented and codified years ago (remember, the first release was 2011!) then they would have had to do something to come up with a format like this.

A nonrotating, variable power level format where 99.9% of cards are legal, allowing players to pursue the foils, the foreign languages, the miscuts, the alters, just to make their deck unique. 

If it weren’t for Commander, I don’t think we’d have the wide range of products and versions of  cards that we have today.

Commander is also responsible for a big slice of the #mtgfinance pie. For a certain set of cards, the question is ‘When will Commander players notice this card and make it jump 5x in price?’ and that’s both a silly thing and a very very relevant thing.

This past Wednesday, Wizards gave us a few tidbits for what’s coming up, and there’s a lot to unpack in the announcement…

First of all, here’s the official announcement. Read it if you have a moment.

Here’s the first quote that is relevant to us: “I can’t possibly reprint everything, but I think many of you will be happy with the reprints coming throughout 2020.”

That’s the first set of alarm bells for me.

Next, we are told that the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths release won’t have Planeswalker decks, but instead will have the yearly Commander release, with more new cards than ever. 

Zendikar Rising, the Fall 2020 set, will have a couple of Commander decks too but only three new cards per deck.

Then, the two biggest pieces of information:

The Commander Collection: Green is apparently taking the place of the Signature Spellbook (or alongside it?) and will have eight cards. The higher-level WPN stores will get the all-foil versions for selling, and the more plebian ones will only get the nonfoil packages to sell.

Finally, we’re told of Commander Legends, a draftable Commander set. It’s bigger than a normal set, a foil in every pack and two legends per pack. It’ll have some mix of reprints and new cards: “It is larger than a normal set, with oft-asked-for Commander reprints and new cards alike.”



My first reaction is that this is all to the good, that more stuff for Commander players is always welcome. And then I start really thinking about it. 

Takeaway #1: Dump anything you’re holding for Commander purposes.

I mean this with every fiber of my being. We are going into a year of heavy-duty reprints. Hopefully, it’s the medium prices like Primal Vigor and the high prices like Bloom Tender. The things that ought to have been reprinted at some point but just haven’t gotten more cards somehow. 

I’m going to spend the time between now and Christmas reviewing what’s in my collection, with ‘Is this going to take a huge dive when it gets reprinted?’ as my guiding light. 

Takeaway #2: We are going to see a lot of new legends, and therefore a lot of spikes. Be prepared to sell into the hype.

While I’m sorting out the things I want to get rid of, I also need to make sure that what I do have is easily accessible. Maybe you have too many cards for a binder and you’re using a spreadsheet, but the important thing is that you’re able to find the cards when you need to. Generally speaking, you’ve got about two to three days to sell into some hype, and it’s vitally important that you do.

The examples are many, but let’s focus on the sort of spike we’re going to see with new legends. Some new card is released, and there’s new synergies, and all of a sudden, a bulk rare is flying high…for four days. I give you Knucklebone Witch: 

Yes, it’s still selling for a big amount more than it was, but you want to be at the height of the wave. Be prepared, and avoid the situation of putting something up for sale, then being unable to find it. It’s a terrible feeling and it’s quite the stain on your reputation as a seller on any platform.

Takeaway #3: Prices will bottom out…but they will rise again. 

The thing about staples is that they are super popular. You see this with every reprint set, how the value tanks but then rises again over time. Yes, lots of prices are going to tank, but when they do, that’s the time to pick up spare copies, because there’s going to be more Commander players and more Commander decks built. There’s going to be a lot of reprints in 2020. Not necessarily in 2021, though. 

With these ideas in mind, here’s a couple of other cards for your consideration, keeping in mind that they might well get printed at some point, given the sheer number of reprints coming:

Demonic Pact ($1 nonfoil/$4 foil)

It seems likely that we will get another ‘here you go’ Commander in the vein of Zedruu the Greathearted. Black should get a piece of the action this time, as we’ve got cards like Sleeper Agent and Xantcha, Sleeper Agent to fit nicely into such a theme. If you agree with those suppositions, Pact is going to have a great time. 

Weatherlight ($.50/$2.50)

I think we’re going to get something that cares about historic cards, and Weatherlight can do some amazing work in that context. Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain might also be a consideration if you’re willing to stomach the reprint risk.

And a couple of cards I know I’m not keeping:

Doubling Season ($40/$160 for Ravnica pack foil)

Having been reprinted several times ad some of that being a promo, you’d think this would stay down. Nope! And frankly, it never will. The Season is going to be printed again, and when it gets back to $20, I’ll happily scoop up lots and lots of copies for the inevitable growth. 

Oracle of Mul Daya ($29/$84)

Never reprinted in ten years, one of the most efficient ramping creatures, a card that demands to be killed immediately…and a lock to be reprinted next year. I can’t wait to buy copies left and right at $10, or maybe even less.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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Checking on Standard

Since we’re getting a Mythic Championship in a couple of weeks, and we’re all enjoying Throne of Eldraine, it’s time for the unglamorous task of looking at the other sets in Standard for things that are undervalued yet could see some life before they rotate in twelve months.

The traditional play right now is to just look at Core Set 2020, but honestly, there’s a couple of cards that are too tempting not to mention right away.

Divine Visitation ($6.50 regular/$9 foil)

I’ve been playing the Golos Field deck on Arena, and while I love having Ethereal Procession in the wishboard, what I’ve been reaching for more often is Divine Visitation. You’ll notice that all three vendors in the graph above have ticked up their price a little lately, and this is why. It is a total backbreaker of a card, requiring a Planar Cleansing in response. 

It’s also a fantastic casual card, and yes, that foil price is right. You can get some foils on TCG for 1.5x the normal price, which is absurd for a token-centric mythic. I like this as a short-term spec and for the long term, as it’s golden in so many different Commander decks.

Agent of Treachery ($2/$3)

Another card with super-low foils, we’re about to see this one blow open the mirror match in Standard. The appeal of Agent is that it’s castable off of a Golos activation (unlike Mass Manipulation), and is going to be great no matter who you’re against. Steal their best creature, snag a planeswalker, or annex their Field of the Dead. It’s all wonderful and three copies is the standard for now.

This was $1 a couple of weeks ago and it’s not done climbing. It’ll hit $5 once Golos is all over the place at the Mythic Championship. Get your copies at $2 now, and flip them for $4 worth of buylist credit in a couple of weeks. I’m not as stoked about the foils here, but the multiplier is so low I might not be able to help myself.

Realm-Cloaked Giant – Showcase Foil ($10 showcase nonfoil/$25 foil)

I do hate that instead of two prices, every card in Eldraine has four. It’s going to take a lot of getting used to.

If you haven’t read James’s excellent analysis of the drop rate for Eldraine’s unusual borders, do it now. And then go buy yourself some alternate-frame foils. Right now they are dropping fast as people feverishly crack Collector Booster boxes, and that’s not the play you want to make. Just buy the singles! You can snag this mythic Showcase foil for the price of a Collector Booster.

There’s lots of other prices that I like, but the alt-art mythics especially call to me. Brazen Borrower in Showcase foil for ~$70 is very appealing as well as The Great Henge at $150. Read his article again, everyone. There’s a lot more people who desire shiny new things than there will be copies of these shiny new things.

Emergency Powers ($1/$3)

I admit, this is win-more, but I’ve been playing around with this in Golos as well and it’s a very good time. As a bulk mythic, your expectations are low but the potential for profit is high.

Chandra, Acolyte of Flame ($5/$9)

The Cavalcade of Calamity/Torbran, Thane of Red Fell deck is real. Chandra offers two hasty 1/1’s for three mana, and that’s a card you’d play in this deck no matter what. Being able to re-use a burn spell from earlier is just gravy. If the red decks have a good showing on camera these next couple of weeks, she’ll go up. If the deck wins it all, or even looks intimidating in the Top 8, she’s a good bet to double her retail price temporarily, and that’s when you’ll need to mash that SELL button pretty hard.

Veil of Summer ($5/$28)

Currently the eighth most valuable card in Core Set 2020 is this uncommon, because it’s in most Standard sideboards, a lot of Modern sideboards, and a few Legacy sideboards. That’s a whole lot to ask, and if this card wasn’t costed so aggressively, this wouldn’t be an issue.Just about half the decks in Standard have at least one copy in the 75, one deck in eight has copies if you’re in Legacy, and a little over 10% of Modern decks do the same. That’s an enormous amount of reach for a card released four months ago.

A single green mana can not only get you that 2-for-1, nullifying their kill spell and drawing you a card, but it can ensure the coast is clear for the rest of the turn. It’s also great against Thoughtseize decks, and will win you the counter wars for the rest of the turn. For one mana!

I’m worried that there is going to be a special version of this card sometime soon. It used to be that the FNM card was an uncommon from a recent set, not just the set that’s currently being drafted. That’s no longer the case, and frankly, we’re going to need more copies of this. The graph is clear, and we stopped opening Core Set 2020 three weeks ago:

I wish I could say what the entrance and exit could be on this card. It could have three copies in the next set of preconstructed Standard decks. It could be a judge foil early next year. It might even be in the MYSTERY BOOSTERS that we’re going to see in Richmond this November. 

If it’s not reprinted, it’ll be $10 by Valentine’s Day. Too many decks need it, and it’s good against enough of the field that we might see something so weird as an uncommon being the most expensive card in a modern-day set. That’s happened before (Alliances’ Force of Will, and likely Mana Drain was the priciest card in Legends for a little while) but it hasn’t happened in a long long time. If Veil becomes the #2 card, behind Big Chandra, it’ll be $8 but I don’t think vendors will crack boxes just to get the cards. It’s pretty common to open a box of a set and not even get a whole playset of a specific uncommon. 

If you think it’s safe, now’s the time to buy. The demand is real and it’s not going away. If you’re like me and you’re wary of the many reprint opportunities, keep your playset and avoid extras.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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Week one with Eldraine

This is likely the best weekend of the year when it comes to Constructed Magic.

We’ve got the double whammy of four sets leaving Standard and a new set coming in. The cardpool is narrower, the brewing is hot and heavy, and there’s an Arena event that is just perfect to get people burning wildcards.

Thank goodness SCG is broadcasting this weekend, a Team Constructed event that’s likely to focus on the Standard player but this first week, all bets are off.

We’ve had some impressive movement on cards, some of which is permanent and some of which is a motivation to sell…

One thing to keep in mind about Throne of Eldraine cards: They are about to be legal in Standard for the next two years. These are going to be cheaper in three months, and that’s when I’m planning on buying lots and lots of some of these, the staples and the most-easily-abused cards.

Oko, Thief of Crowns ($36)

I was super wrong about Oko. I didn’t see the Food synergies coming, nor the brokenness with Gilded Goose, and there’s a lot more ways to abuse the Food than I’d expected. I also didn’t see how high the loyalty can get, until I saw some games with it and against it. Pretty sick stuff. Oko is going to be all over the place this weekend, but this price is an artifact of the enforced scarcity of prerelease week. If you opened one, I’d sell right now, as the orders can go out as of today and the price will fall back under $30, more likely to $25. 

Knight of the Ebon Legion ($10)

A month ago, this was $3. Knights are well-positioned for Week 1, and this is also good in an aggressive black shell. The price has been climbing steadily these past four weeks, and I’m a seller at this point. It’s pretty unusual for a rare to break $10 without a lot of cross-format appeal, and the only reason this is doing so is because it’s a four-of in every deck that’s playing it. 

For reference, here’s the cards worth $10 or more from the last few sets:

Core Set 2020Chandra, Awakened Inferno
Knight of the Ebon Legion
War of the SparkTeferi, Time Raveler
Liliana, Dreadhorde General
Finale of Devastation
Ravnica AllegianceHydroid Krasis
Breeding Pool
Godless Shrine
Blood Crypt
Stomping Ground
Guilds of RavnicaAssassin’s Trophy
Watery Grave

Knight of the Ebon Legion is good, but you’ll be best served getting rid of all extra copies in the next couple of weeks.

Once Upon a Time ($12)

This has been trending downwards in the last couple of weeks, and that’s a surprise to me, given the number of decks that likely want to play this effect. I think $12 is too high in the long term, but what I’m eyeballing are the foils and the special versions. If this card is Modern-level good, it’s going to be $20 easily. The pack foils are $25 or so right now, and that’s a very tempting buy-in price.

Spawn of Mayhem ($8)

A card that’s doubled in price in the last two weeks, there’s a lot to like. It’s a mythic, it’s cheap to play, good in multiples, and if you are in the aggro deck, it’s possible that the other player is just dead before they can answer it effectively.

I’m not buying in at $8 and hoping it climbs to $15 or $20…yet. Let me see one or two good matches on camera, and then I’ll be in to buy at this price. 

Murderous Rider ($12)

I really can’t believe this is a card. I keep thinking that there’s got to be more of a drawback than the two life, that it can’t possibly be this good. We know that Hero’s Downfall and Vraska’s Contempt both hit early $10 highs, and then fell back down to earth while it was in print, then popped back up to be a staple for the duration of Standard. Here’s the graph for Vraska’s Contempt:

Murderous Rider is going to drop in price. That’s a given. How far can the best removal spell in years fall? This is enormous value, and given how many annoying planeswalkers are running around, the Rider is going to be a mainstay for years.

I’m a seller at $12, but I no longer think it’s going to go as low as $5. Instead, $7 feels like the floor, as people realize they are going to need four copies for the next two years.

The Great Henge ($12)

Now this, I’m a buyer on. It’s been a long time since I saw such an unfair card for any format, and don’t overlook how Commander players are going to be sapping copies out of the market. There’s blessed few cards I want more in any creature strategy, and luckily that’s a wide swath of Commander decks. 

I think that someone is going to go off with this card on camera this weekend, and it’s going to rocket to $20+. It’s definitely the card with the most long-term casual appeal, and that makes me feel pretty safe and sound when it comes to picking up extra copies. It’s got two years to make waves in Standard, and even if that doesn’t pan out, it’s a solid Commander pickup. I am waiting to see what the extended art foils go for, though. How high can it go?

Fires of Invention ($3)

This was a little over $1 early on, but people have figured out that this is good. Who knew? I like this as a component of decks that want to use activated abilities, especially Planeswalkers. It’s important to note that on your turn four, you can put this into play and then immediately play one more spell. Yes, the enchantment is one of your two spells, and while that’s no fun, this is a card that is going to get broken. I would have preferred the $1 price, but if this does well, I can see it rocketing up to $10 early in the season before settling back down.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

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