Category Archives: Casual Fridays

What The Lost Caverns Of Ixalan Did Not Discover

The previews for Lost Caverns of Ixalan are in full force, and this week we got the full decklists for the Commander decks. Pirates, Vampires, Merfolk and Dinosaurs! For each deck, I’m going to go over some cards that they didn’t print for the theme, and if there’s a good spec. 

Considering we got four decks, all of which are devoted to a single creature type each, I’m surprised that Urza’s Incubator isn’t on here. I’ve mentioned the card before, and it bears repeating: You should definitely get your personal copies now, as this many typal decks at once is a prime situation.

It’s been just at $20 for nonfoil copies, including the borderless, for several months now and it’s not going to go lower unless it’s reprinted again. That’s entirely possible, though this was a stellar opportunity to put the card in at least one of the typal decks. It’s an unfair card, though the effect is symmetrical, so be careful in pods where two people are running the same type.

Ahoy Mateys (Pirates) – They really did a remarkable job giving players every notable Pirate except for Ragavan and Dockside, but there’s a couple of sweet cards they missed.

Emberwilde Captain ($1 for the cheapest copy up to $3.50 for the most expensive)

Cards that invoke the Monarch are generally good cards. Monarch is an ability that is both fair and broken, something which really moves a game along when there’s four people all attacking each other. The Captain here has a fun damage bonus to hand out when someone attacks you. Sadly, the ability only triggers once, no matter how many creatures they swarm you with.

Pirated Copy ($10 for the only copy, a nonfoil) – Jumpstart is getting phased out, and this is one of the better cards to come out of that project. You can’t copy legendary creatures, sadly, but you do get the fun of drawing cards when it hits. There’s only the one version in circulation, so you might be able to get a big profit from these, no decisions about which one to chase.

Blood Rites (Vampires) – This is a realm where Vampires are white and black, so a lot of the sweet blue and red bloodsuckers were left out. Even so, there’s a couple of core creatures they didn’t include.

Captivating Vampire  ($7 to $13) – The NM foils under $10 have already been bought out, but the foil price should reach $20 fairly easily once people get Commanders in hand and start building decks. It’s a truly unfair card in any Vampire deck, but Edgar’s propensity for token Vamps puts this in the upper echelon.

Malakir Bloodwitch (50¢ to $2)  – There’s been no buyout but the card is 13 years old and there’s just not a lot left. I bought 10 in 2021 for MID/VOW block but never sold any. Protection is a less-desirable keyword these days but this card really shines with clone effects. Enjoy!

Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose ($4.50 to $13) – He’s a combo piece and a win condition all in one, able to swing board states that no one else can. It’s surprising how he’s dodged reprints all this time, but I wouldn’t expect that to last much longer.

Legion’s Landing ($3 to $15) – Commander is not usually a place for such an aggressive card, but even if you lose a lot of your attackers, having this ability on a land is nothing short of wonderful. More Vampires are always going to be needed.

Anowon, the Ruin Sage (50¢ to $20) – Another OG Zendikar block bloodsucker who’s dodged reprints, Anowon is an enormously unfair card. Make sure to smile big when you’re casting him or reminding opponents to sacrifice.

Rodolf Duskbringer ($6) – Jumpstart had some vicious rares, and I didn’t even know about this card till I did this research. Recursion is great, especially when it’s dependent on the life being gained, not the mana being spent. The card has fallen in price by a couple bucks recently, but the influx of vampires might raise it right back up.

Vampire Nocturnus ($4 to $30) – This was printed a couple of times, along with being a promo, so there’s a lot of copies to churn through. The good news is that if it’s a multicolor card that includes black on top, your Vampires get the bonus, and if you manage to clone the Nocturnus, you can get double the bonus!

Explorers of the Deep – There’s a few awesome Merfolk in white, but no good three-color option for the Commander. This being Simic, there’s a lot of busted stuff afoot.

Merrow Commerce ($4 to $35) – Wizards announced today that they are dropping ‘tribal’ as a term and will start using ‘kindred’ to denote having a creature type on a noncreature permanent. A lot of your Merfolk want to tap and untap, and Commerce is one of the ways to really crank the shenanigans in your deck.

Murkfiend Liege (50¢ to $18) – Not a Merfolk, but utterly busted. Many of your Merfolk will get the full +2/+2 bonus, and Iike I said, untapping is a mega bonus, especially with some of the creatures coming up on this list. Etched foils would be my target, as they are the only unique-looking version out there. 

Lord of Atlantis ($5 to $40) – Just announced on the List, so the profit margin might be impacted, but you only get a Lord every 720 Set Boosters. I’m not expecting a huge influx of copies, but I am expecting a huge number of people to seek out a copy.

Lullmage Mentor ($1 to $9) – Be warned, you get this plus an untapper out, and you might induce some rage-quits at your table, leading to you being targeted in subsequent games. Use tools like this thoughtfully, and never hastily.

Merrow Harbinger ($1 to $11) – I’m pretty amazed that these weren’t printed in the deck, to even add the nonfoils in, but here we are, with a $1 card set to bump to $2 or $3 given the demand and the amazing amount of time since this has had a printing.

Path of Discovery ($1 to $3) – Finally, since so much of this deck focuses on exploring, why not make sure that every creature has explore? The foils are cheap still, and there’s plenty online to buy. Again, there’s nothing besides a regular frame foil to chase, so you can stock up if you like the spec.

Veloci-Ramp-Tor – A really amazing Dinosaur deck, highlighted by the reappearance of several key cards and awesome accessories.

Honestly, I wrote about a lot of cards in this deck last month. You can go back and read it here, but here’s what didn’t get printed from that article: Forerunners of the Empire, Kaheera, Polyraptor, Thrasta. The rest got tagged, so make your moves and good hunting!

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.

Building Mr. House’s Casino, For Fun and Profit!

I don’t keep a lot of Commander decks anymore. I’m currently at four, because I don’t like having to do the upkeep on them with all the new sets. However, this week we got a preview of the Universes Beyond: Fallout decks coming in March of next year, and one of the secondary commanders really caught my attention:

Now you don’t necessarily need to know all the lore around this guy, but let me tell you, this ability is 100% on point as someone who will set up a situation and then cheat. If you’re a ProTrader, you might have already heard about the big this this card doesn’t have, but if you didn’t hear it on the cast, then let me enlighten you…

The rest of this content is only visible to ProTrader members.

To learn how ProTrader can benefit YOU, click here to watch our short video.

expensive cards ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.

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.

Marching Back to March of the Machine

So it’s been about six months since March of the Machine came out, and that’s the timeline where I like to take stock of a set and evaluate what the prices have gone down to, what’s worth stocking up on, and what I’m glad I waited on.

Do remember that while I’m focusing on Commander use and eternal formats, MOM is legal in Standard for two more years. That’s a long time for new strategies and decks to emerge. 

For each card, I’m giving the price on the cheapest version, the most expensive and the number of decks on EDHREC that list the card. As always, I’m aware of the limitations of EDHREC data, as it’s got a tendency to loop on itself and it’s only the most plugged-in of users who bother to upload a deck. It’s good data, but not the be-all and end-all for this sort of thing.

City on Fire ($4 to $5, 31k decks) – Fiery Emancipation just got reprinted in the Enchanting Tales subset as a rare, down from mythic.It’s now a $3 card, when right before the reprint it was close to $30. There’s clearly a market for ridiculous enchantments that triple your damage output. City on Fire is easier to cast, thanks to Convoke, and we’ll see if having two versions available at once affects the prices. This sort of thing might well have become bulk, or nearly so, as we saw with Gratuitous Violence until the last couple of years. 

The other thing that’s worth mentioning is that the foils and nonfoils are very close in price. This means players don’t care which version they get, they just want a copy. When there is a bigger gap between versions, that means players are being more judicious, chasing the foils instead. In the modern day, with four versions of most cards, we usually see three of them bunched together and then the FEA/Showcase foil having a more premium price. That’s not the case here. 

Chandra, Hope’s Beacon ($4 to $9, 10k decks) – That gap is evident here, as the borderless foil is clearly the rarer and the basic versions are less than half the price. It’s interesting that this is so much more expensive than Double Vision, which as an enchantment is more robust than the Planeswalker.

Chandra’s other abilities are not to be trifled with, to be clear. In addition to the copying, you get mana, spell casting from exile, plus some big damage. Yes, she’s six mana but you get a lot for it and both the copying and the exiling are popular abilities in Commander.

Tribute to the World Tree ($6 to $8, 50k decks) – It’s been a while since a card premiered at a certain price and stayed at that price, barely moving up or down, but that’s what we’ve got here:

Someone decided early on that this was a $6 card and while it’s sold copies at $7 thanks to the Direct bump, the graph has stayed remarkably consistent. It’s one of the top inclusions from the set and only a very restrictive mana cost keeps this from kicking butt all over the place. It does two things all at once: draws you cards for the big things, and puts counters on the little things. Depending on your deck, you might want one or both of these effects. The popularity of this card has me thinking that it’s a great candidate to increase in price soon, but don’t look for this to light up Mono-Green lists anytime soon outside Commander.

Faerie Mastermind ($10 to $12, 43k decks) – Blessed few World Championship winners have made bad cards, and the Mastermind is good on a bunch of levels. First of all, we just got a couple of new Faerie toys plus some use in Standard, which is why we’ve left behind the low price of sub-$5:

It’s pretty easy to flash this in and draw a card in response to something an opponent does in any game of Magic. We’ve mostly learned that drawing cards is good, and there’s not much that’s better. 

He’s a Rogue, in case the Party is a thing or Prowl effects come back into vogue. Mainly, though, this is a fun reactive card in Standard and something really fun to use in Commander, where your generosity is not only greater for yourself, it’s a political tool up for negotiation. I can see this coming back down if it falls out of favor in Standard, but the Commander use will always be there.

Kami of Whispered Hopes ($0.75 to $4, 35k decks) – One of the rules for Commander deckbuilding is that if you want an effect, you want as many versions as possible for that effect. So if you build a Nekusar deck, you include effects like Underworld Dreams and Fate Unraveler. 

The Kami works on a similar axis, where if you’re in a +1/+1 counters deck, you want every effect that increases those counters. Plus, you get extra mana for it! 

As an uncommon, you’d normally be stuck at having a regular or a pack foil, but there’s a promo pack version that I’m advocating for. Only a couple of vendors have notable walls, and given the number of people who have these promo foils listed for $9 or $10, they are also believers that there’s nowhere to go but up for this card.

Etali, Primal Conqueror ($5 to $12, 35k decks, including 4k as Commander) – Not only is this Etali a roaring good time, giving you four spells for one casting, it’s remarkably easy to build. Stuff your deck full of ramp spells, as Etali gets killed a whole lot, and keep replaying the tops of their decks.

Etali is about to benefit from the Dinosaur hype, too, but there’s a weird thing happening with this card. The Showcase version, which highlights a medallion for each side, is sitting several dollars lower than the regular, something we haven’t seen since the Monster Manual versions of Baldur’s Gate. With the upcoming Lost Caverns and Jurassic Park subset, I fully expect Etali to go up, even the less-desirable Showcase version.

Ozolith, the Shattered Spire ($4.50 to $6, 32k decks) – As I said, a deck wants all possible versions of an effect, and this one gives a bonus and activates to get things rolling. And if you need to, just cycle it away!

It’s never really dropped in price from the early days, but the Commander demand plus the occasional sighting in Hardened Scales decks means that the long-term growth should be there. Picking up a few copies now, preferably of the FEA versions, should pay off nicely.

Invasion of Ikoria ($6 to $12, 27k decks) – The foil version is up $3 in the last six weeks and you’re rapidly losing your chance to get this at a reasonable price. Some decks can’t handle the ‘no Human’ aspect but generally speaking, you’re going to kick butt here. 

Sunfall ($3 to $4, 13k decks) – We’ve got no shortage of good board wipes in Commander, but the mass exile clause is powerful indeed, especially when you get a decent-sized token left behind. Being a bomb in its limited format probably helps here, but I’d be surprised if this ended up going much above $10 in the long term.

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.

The Math of Universes Beyond: Doctor Who

Wizards may be turning off a lot of folks with the velocity of new cards, but the Warhammer 40K set taught them that we love Commander decks stuffed with new, thematic, and fun Commanders and cards. Every week, there’s a different Surge Foil from those decks that pops off in value, and that probably won’t stop for a while.

With Universes Beyond: Doctor Who, we’re getting a new formula for getting cards. Every new card can be had in regular frame nonfoil if you buy the Commander decks, but if you want shiny versions, or alternate frames, you have to go right to the Collector Booster. 

As a result, there’s some information out there regarding what you can open, and I’m here to turn that glimmer of light into a useful and focused beam.

One thing before the numbers: The original Commander decks had a code for how often a card was in the decks. If it was common, it was in all the decks. Uncommon was three decks, rare was two, and mythic-coded cards could only be found in one particular deck. That isn’t in use anymore, and with this set, everything is equally rare, even if coded as rare or uncommon.

Let’s begin with a discussion of the thirteen Serialized Doctors, who add up to 6591 unique cards. We’re told you have a less than 1% chance of opening such a card, and here’s the breakdown of how many total packs it takes to go from 1% to .05%.

So our estimates say that there’s less than 100k total CB boxes out there. Note that even at its rarest, WHO is getting less than a third of the 3.3 million CB packs made for the original LOTR release.

Just so you can see what we’re working with, here’s the set by rarity symbol: There’s 23 Commons, all reprints plus Planechase cards. Here’s the list of commons. The uncommons are a mix. Link to 33 new cards plus 30 reprints, 63 overall marked as uncommon. Rares are a mix as well. 222 total, 151 new, 71 reprints including several land cycles. Mythics are super weird. 5 for the set, that’s one display commander per deck and then Wedding Ring. I don’t know why it was the only other card marked as mythic.

Now, slot by slot, according to the Collecting Dr. Who article.

Slot #2 is dedicated to foil Doctors in the regular frame, of which there are 13. Exactly 10% of these are Surge Foil, which means you have these odds:

Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Regular Frame Traditional Foil Doctor90%6.92%14.4
Regular Frame Surge Foil Doctor10%0.77%130

Slot #3 through #7 reprint one card from each deck. I’m basing my odds on the inclusion of basic lands, there’s anywhere from 6-11 of those in these decks. These are all regular frame and have the same 10% chance to upgrade to surge foil from traditional foil. Since basic lands aren’t specifically excluded here (as they are in other sections), I think they are potential pulls. If that changes, I will update this section.

Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Regular Frame Traditional Foil card from a Commander deck90%0.9%111.1
Regular Frame Surge Foil card from a Commander deck10%0.1%1000

That’s right, we’re already at some one in one thousand odds, so if you like regular frame surge foils, they will probably be pricey. However, each CB will have multiple paths to the same cards, if not very good ones.

Next up, we have Extended Art cards for six slots. 

Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Nonfoil EA new card (132)100%0.75%132
Traditional Foil EA new card (132)100%0.75%132
Nonfoil EA reprint (71)100%1.4%71
Traditional Foil EA reprint (71)100%1.4%71
EA Surge Foil new card (132)100%0.75%132
EA Surge Foil reprint (71)100%1.4%71

Then we have a Surge Foil Wildcard, which could be any card that isn’t TARDIS framed or basic land. That total is close to 1100 cards, and so you have a 0.09% chance of getting any particular card from that slot. If there’s one million Collector Booster packs out there, which is a legit estimate based on the drop rate for Serialized Doctors, then you’re looking at 900 extra copies of each Surge Foil card from this slot. 

For the EA and TARDIS Surge Foils, that’s not a big deal, but for the regular frame Surge Foils, that nearly doubles the amount in circulation.

Finally, we have two slots dedicated to the TARDIS frames. The first is nonfoil, the second traditional foil with a 10% chance of Surge foil. That last slot is also where the serialized Doctors will show up. Both of these slots can have the same set of 30 cards in equal chances (3 uncommons, 23 rares, 4 mythics) no matter the printed rarity.

Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CBs to open one specific card from that category
Nonfoil TARDIS frame (30)100%3.33%30
Traditional Foil TARDIS frame90%3%33.3
Surge Foil TARDIS frame10%0.3%300

Yes, you’re reading this right. Surge Foil regular frame cards are more than three times rarer than Surge Foil TARDIS frame cards. 

Let’s summarize with a comparison of cards and drop rates.

Example CardFrame/TreatmentApprox. number of CBs needed to find one copy
Regular Frame Traditional Foil The First DoctorRegular Frame Traditional Foil Doctor14.4
Regular Frame Surge Foil The Third DoctorRegular Frame Surge Foil Doctor130
Regular Frame Traditional Foil The Night of the DoctorRegular Frame Traditional Foil card from a Commander deck111.1
Regular Frame Surge Foil Cyber ConversionRegular Frame Surge Foil card from a Commander deck1000
Nonfoil Extended Art The Sound of DrumsNonfoil EA new card 132
Traditional Foil Extended Art Displaced DinosaursTraditional Foil EA new card132
Nonfoil Extended Art FarewellNonfoil EA reprint 71
Foil Extended Art Heroic InterventionTraditional Foil EA reprint 71
Surge Foil Extended Art Weeping AngelSurge Foil EA new card 132
Surge Foil Extended Art Day of DestinySurge Foil EA reprint 71
Nonfoil TARDIS Frame Dalek SquadronNonfoil TARDIS frame 30
Traditional Foil TARDIS Frame MissyTraditional Foil TARDIS frame33.3
Surge Foil TARDIS Frame The Fourth DoctorSurge Foil TARDIS frame300
Serialized The Tenth DoctorDouble Rainbow Foil Serialized Doctor1436 to 2585

My biggest takeaway is that the regular frame Surge Foils are easily the rarest pulls in the set, and there’s less than 2000 of each of those cards. 2000 regular frame Surge Foil Mind Stone, 2000 regular frame Surge Foil The Thirteenth Doctor. I don’t know that the market will figure this out right away, but this is why I crunch the numbers every set: to find the value that they hide in weird printing strategies. We know what the availability is for these cards, and we can estimate a few key points:

  1. There are nearly twice as many of each reprint as the new cards when it comes to the EA frame. All the versions have that 71 vs. 132 number going on, and that should be in your mind when you see the prices they are listed at. 
  2. Surge Foils in the regular frame are about 7.5 times rarer than Surge EA foils, and at most, have about 2000 copies in existence. 
  3. The rarity symbol doesn’t matter on these cards. Once upon a time it did, but Displaced Dinosaurs is as hard to pull as a mythic rare.

I hope this helps inform your buying, and I trust you’ll crack packs responsibly!

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.