Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Checking on Standard

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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.

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

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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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. 

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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:

SetCardsPrice
Core Set 2020Chandra, Awakened Inferno
Knight of the Ebon Legion
$14
$10
War of the SparkTeferi, Time Raveler
Liliana, Dreadhorde General
Finale of Devastation
$14
$12
$11
Ravnica AllegianceHydroid Krasis
Breeding Pool
Godless Shrine
Blood Crypt
Stomping Ground
$19
$15
$10
$10
$10
Guilds of RavnicaAssassin’s Trophy
Watery Grave
$17
$11

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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Prerelease time!

I love prerelease weekend. Every card is super expensive, brewers are going crazy, and I get to savor the sweet sweet tears of every Nexus player who’s sad that they can’t win the game by Tamiyo + Callous Dismissal + infinite turns, or a Teferi emblem.

Remember, the first rule of Magic finance is to trade everything away prerelease weekend. Yes, some things are going to go up. Almost everything else is going to go down, and rather than roll dice with value, get your value now.

Let’s look at some early price movement as people gear up for week 1 of the new Standard.

Fires of Invention (Now $4, up from $2.50)

I misses this card, and the good news is that if there’s a ridiculous combo deck to be had, those decks will have this as a four-of, making it a good candidate to double up again. It’s hard to get in at $4 and still get profit, so keep an eye out for cheap copies.

As for what shell this goes in, I have no idea at all. Sundering Stroke is a big damage card without X in the title, I’ve seen Fires in assorted Gate lists (as Guild Summit is pretty bonkers when you’re not tapping lands to cast it), or maybe you want some sort of superfriends deck. The sky is your limit, just watch out for The Elderspell.

Oko, Thief of Crowns (Now $28, up from $20)

Everyone is buzzing about this card and it’s impressive as heck. The new Arena event, where you get everything in Standard right away, is enabling people to play four of Oko right away, and I can smell the wildcards being burned from here. It’s powerful and cheap, with the bonus of being a nightmare for the aggro player. You can deal six on turn four’s attack, but that’s six damage not going to the face. 

Oko is going to be a staple of Standard for the next couple of years. I know the price will fall as time goes on, but the question is how far?

Rankle, Master of Pranks (Now $10, up from $8)

It’s not hard to see why this is good. It’s really tough for a card to be a rare in Standard and going for more than $10. There are a lot of very good aggro decks to be made in this new format, and Rankle can be a delightful curve-topper for you in that sort of deck. Flying and haste is a silly combination on a 3/3 for four mana, and Rankle also gives you the option of causing problematic sacrifices for each player. The modes don’t have to be good–the creature is gas and the abilities are just delicious extras.

Murderous Rider (Now $12, up from $10)

I love this card. I’m planning on purchasing a lot of copies in about three months, when the price is closer to $5. Twelve dollars is unsustainable for an in-print rare, especially one that doesn’t have Modern or Legacy implications. Please make sure you trade away all that you open this weekend. I assure you someone wants it, you just have to find that person before this price goes down.

Emry, Lurker of the Loch (Now $8, up from $7)

Standard is sort of meh on this card but the implications in other formats is very impressive. Whirza is going to take Emry for a spin, and there’s too many other wonky artifact strategies for this to not make an impact.

It’s possible that Emry lights up Standard too, but we will see. There’s not the same density of awesome/utility artifacts in the Standard format right now.

Gilded Goose (Now $7.50, up from $3.50)

I’m a little taken aback by this, but people are desperate to cast Oko on turn 2. Gilded Goose is now the only one-drop mana producer, and that extra speed seems to be worth the drawback of only making mana once. Oko’s popularity will directly impact this price, as without the high-impact three-drop, there’s no reason to play a one-shot mana dork. I fully expect the goose to come crashing back down to the $3 range once people come to their senses.

Fabled Passage (Now $9, down from $15)

I appreciate Wizards’ attempts at giving us fixed version of things that are too good for Standard. Here’s a fixed Prismatic Vista, allowing for everything but speed, and the price is reflecting that nerfing. I think this is a long-term staple, and I really want to have a healthy stock of these when the shocklands rotate out of Standard next fall. This card looks rather underwhelming next to shocks and Temples, but will be necessary to glue it all together.

Torvo, Lord of Garenbrig (Now $2, down from $6)

I wish this was going to be good but it’s going to be quite underwhelming. We just finished a Standard that could go Llanowar Elves into Steel Leaf Paladin…and I’d rather have the Paladin in 95% of cases. Torvo desperately needs some evasion, or trample, in order to be worth it. You don’t have long to sell these before they are bulk.

Once Upon a Time (Now $14, up from $11)

Another card that demands to be a four-of, I like this a lot more at $11 than I do at $14. Yes, it’s making waves in a lot of formats and that’s good, the second copy is pretty rough in those formats. I think it’ll be more popular in Standard, helping shore up questionable mana bases that are using shocklands, temples, and guildgates to smooth out the stresses.

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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The Best commander in Eldraine

The full set dropped today, and wow is there a lot to process. 

We’ve got collector boosters, alternate versions of just about every card in the set, Food tokens with the plural of Foods, and mythics that people don’t think are good but control decks will love.

This week, we were given a legend to admire. An ability that’s never been on a legendary creature, and a card that’s begging to be broken.

Let’s dive into the magical world of….

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell

This ability, or some variation of it, has been on lots and lots of cards, but never on a legendary creature, making this a fantastic Commander card and a chance for us to get out ahead of what might be. 

A lot of these cards are at nearly-bulk prices, so let’s begin with one caveat. None of these are guarantees, but I think Torbran is the most interesting and does something new. Plus, cheap specs are always a good time.

Please keep in mind that damage doubling and adding an integer doesn’t work quite as well as you’d hope. From the Comprehensive Rules: 

616.1. If two or more replacement and/or prevention effects are attempting to modify the way an event affects an object or player, the affected object’s controller (or its owner if it has no controller) or the affected player chooses one to apply, following the steps listed below. If two or more players have to make these choices at the same time, choices are made in APNAP order (see rule 101.4).

Basically, if I Bolt you with Torbran and Furnace of Rath out, you decide if you’re taking 10 damage or a measly 8. Annoying, but that’s our first category of Torbran-based specs: damage doublers.

Double up!

Angrath’s Marauders – It’s a seven-mana creature, but doubling is doubling. It’ll be nice to attack for more with this out.

Dictate of the Twin Gods – This having flash is spicy indeed, and can be used effectively even if you’re not the one causing damage. 

Fire Servant – It’s an uncommon, so the value might not be there even in foil. It’s a card I would absolutely play, though.

Furnace of Rath – It’s been printed several times, most recently in Planechase. This is going to see a bump, and I’d either be in on foils or the original printing. There’s not much difference between the foils, so go with the earliest at 8th edition.

Goblin Goliath ($4, no foils) – This card is in an interesting space. It’s from the Game Night set, so there’s not a lot of copies out there. It also selectively doubles damage when you pay mana, meaning that the effect requires more work but isn’t threatening everybody all the time.

Gratuitous Violence – The gold standard, because it only doubles what your creatures deal, making it less likely that you take extra damage. Notably, there’s only 8 NM Onslaught foils left on TCG, but I’m one of those old border snobs. That foil is just under $10, and a little interest will rocket that number higher.

Quest for Pure Flame – Takes time, but when it’s ready to go off, not costing mana is a very useful trait. Problem is, unless you’re going to run Skull of Orm, it’s a one-shot effect.

Damage for all!

Ancient Runes – Conditional, yes, but there’s a certain joy in ‘you did this to yourself’ sorts of cards and some people really need to cut down on the brown mana ramp.

Chandra, Pyrogenius – Having a +2 that will mean each opponent takes four is a lot of game, even for six mana and being an intro deck planeswalker.

Flame Rift – Simple, efficient, and symmetrical, until it isn’t.

Hammerfist Giant – Granted, this takes out Torbran too, but there’s equipment on this list or figure out something to keep it around for repeated fun.

Heartless Hidetsugu – Another symmetrical card which isn’t symmetrical with Torbran in play, and that’s just what we want to hear.

Mondronen Shaman – The flipped version of this basically begs for a removal spell, but it’s so so so good if not immediately killed! Worth the inclusion.

Pyrohemia – Oh yeah, this does EXACTLY what you want. With Torbran out, it says R: Lightning Bolt everything in play and each player, except for your stuff, which only takes one damage. It’s got reprints, so eye those Planar Chaos copies hard. The foils are unsurprisingly rare, considering that this was in Planar Chaos and then Commander 2011. Only 4 NM foils in stock at TCGPlayer, only 36 overall. Godspeed.

Sarkhan, Dragonsoul – A plus ability that deal one to everything you don’t control, which Torbran upgrades to three? Sold.

Spear Spewer – Gosh, I can’t wait to build this deck and make people spend removal on something as dumb as this is.

Sulfuric Vortex – Lifegain isn’t easy for this deck anyway (gotta get the right Equipment!) so playing this puts a clock on the board that spins much faster for everyone else.

Warmonger – With the right equipment out, this is good. With Torbran, it’s breathtaking and you should enjoy every moment.

Only your opponents!

Hazoret the Fervent – The activated ability is top-shelf with Torbran out, dealing big chunks of damage to only your opponents.

Brimstone Trebuchet – I don’t think you’ll untap it often, but three per turn adds up super fast.

Lightning-Rig Crew – Super-duper fast.

Lobber Crew – Super-mega-duper fast!

Thermo-Alchemist – LUDICROUS SPEED

Chandra, Torch of Defiance – the +1 here will hit each of the other players, and while the card may want to be cast, you’re adding damage as fast as you can.

Fanatic of Mogis – Oh yes. This will hit each player for a minimum of six with Torbran out, and this deck will have lots and lots of red pips.

Firebrand Archer – The effects add up pretty fast!

Guttersnipe – And faster!

Impact Tremors – There’s a lot of ways you can build this deck, and Tremors speaks to the go-wide type.

Purphoros, God of the Forge – Of course this is here, and might be one of the most broken Purph decks around. Nonfoils are around $20, and that’s reasonable, but the foils in the $40-$50 range are where I’d rather be. The inventory on these is quite low, and the price is getting high enough that Purphoros would be a headliner in a new Commander deck. I think it’s pretty unlikely that the return to Theros will include a reprint, but I’d respect if you want to wait.

Sizzle – Take five!

Spireside Infiltrator – Niche, but combine with Whip of Flame for real fun.

More Math!

Aria of Flame – If you build the spell-based version of the decks, that ten life is going to last no time at all.

Akki Lavarunner – The flipped version of this is a worse Torbran, but why just settle for +2 when you could have +3?

Embermaw Hellion – This doubles damage to your own things too, so keep that in mind.

Jaya, Venerated Firemage – She doesn’t enhance herself, but she will help all your other fun things.

Pyromancer’s Gauntlet – Can I interest you in Bolting someone for seven damage? I truly love picking up these foils. Nearly-bulk prices, so easy to sweep up, and it’s from six years ago!

Sulfuric Vapors – It enhances spells only, but if you’re building a spell-based version of Torbran, you’ll love this.

Attack Triggers 

Cavalcade of Calamity – With the right creatures, the game is OVER.

Raid Bombardment – I do like the curve of Cavalcade-this-Torbran-attack for 11.

Rage Forger – If you’ve got enough counters, this plus Torbran is amazing, though you might have trouble setting it up.

Hellrider – YES PLEASE.

Inferno Titan – It’s not perfect, but triple Bolt is hard to argue with. 

Protection

Orbs of Warding – Since you get apply the order of damage-replacing effects, do the math correctly, please?

Urza’s Armor – We never heard enough about the cool things the original planeswalkers made. A shame, really. 

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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