Category Archives: Casual Fridays

The Twist on The List

So this week we had an update about The List. In total, 48 new cards were added and the same number taken out. The List has been in effect for all of Zendikar Rising, as something that could occur in 25% of Set Boosters, not Draft Boosters. I went over a lot of this information in September, with some data that seemed relevant.

Now that The List has been out for three months, and we’re seeing an update to it, it’s time to look at what’s changed and what the new additions should expect, price-wise.

First of all, let’s look at the prices on The List and see what is different. Sometimes, there can be a huge price gap between the copies with the little planeswalker symbol and those without. That’s very true with Mystery Booster and it’s held up in this setting too.

Some of the biggest price gaps include $7 for the full-art Imperious Perfect and $13 for Cruel Tutor, but generally speaking, the prices for The List and the non-List copies are about the same.

Weirdly, there’s a Krark’s Thumb from Mirrodin for $15 on TCG but The List versions are $24+. Have fun, early readers! Also of note: foil Panharmonicons are available on TCG for under $15, which is $10 less than it was just a few months ago.

So if The List copies are about the same price as the regular copies, have those prices fallen as a result of The List copies being around for the last three months? This is a little trickier to parse, as we’re looking for things that otherwise have the same frame, are nonfoil, and haven’t had a reprint lately.

Land Tax, for instance, was in Double Masters and that’s (presumably) had a much bigger effect on the price of the card: 

Let’s start with a card that was already under some pressure downwards, as no one is able to play Modern in person right now: Wrenn and Six.

If there were significant copies entering circulation, this graph ought to show some movement these past three months. Even a little trend towards being cheaper would help make the case for The List, but that doesn’t seem to be true at all. In fact, I’m surprised that the price is this stable, given the lack of paper tournaments that it’s played in. The card is present in enough decks online to warrant its price, but steady for the last six months? Commander uses it, but not enough to account for the expected dip.

That particular Constructed card didn’t show any movement due to The List, so let’s try a card that had only one printing before its inclusion, is a very niche Commander card, and already had a high price. Normally, reprinting such a card would torpedo the value, but is that what happened to Thrumming Stone?

It’s stayed flat as well. This is a rare from one of the shortest-printed sets in modern times, but a card that’s popular enough to get to nearly $40. It’s not a card that is easy to build around, finding a home in Relentless Rats/Persistent Petitioners type decks where one casting gets you a ton of copies.

If Wrenn and Six’s price staying flat put my eyebrows up, this one shoots them right off my head. Even a small number of copies entering the market should have lowered this price, but there we have the numbers. The two versions are priced about the same as well, there’s no shenanigans about The List versions dropping and regular ones staying where they are.

I went through most of The List and couldn’t find examples of NM copies lowering in price significantly these past three months. I found a couple of cases where the market price had lowered by a few dollars, but that wasn’t reflected in current inventory on TCG or eBay. I feel pretty safe saying that the quantities of cards released so far haven’t impacted card prices heavily. Are there a few with odd things going on? Most definitely, but I like looking for overall trends. In this case, if a card is announced to be on The List, or added to that group, I’m not going to panic-sell or FOMO-buy. 

There is an additional element going forward, something that promises to be true for the next few months: Set Boosters are outselling Draft Boosters at a steady pace. For a generation, the largest printings have been the regular boosters (now referred to as Draft Boosters) but for Kaldheim and presumably a set or two after that, local stores in North America are too impacted by the coronavirus to open and do business as usual.

Stores outside NA might be able to hold drafts as they did in 2019, but the focus is still on an area heavily impacted, and that impact has months to go before the vaccines can help. Right now, rumors are that distributors and vendors are getting a much higher allocation of Set Booster boxes than Draft Booster boxes, which makes sense if boxes are getting bought by individuals for cracking and not stores for drafting.

The Commander community has been focused on Extended Art and special frames, but the shift in production and distribution towards Collector Boosters and Set Boosters will also have an effect on cards. I can’t say that The List will have a greater effect as of Kaldheim than it did after Zendikar Rising, I’m comfortable staying with my position that The List is mostly stabilizing prices, instead of causing a drop in prices.

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.

Planning for the After-Time

We are hearing about the coronavirus vaccine and the rays of hope are starting to illuminate the future. I’m keenly aware that the virus is still a problem, and it may be super optimistic of me to think this way, but I’m hopeful that things will be back to normal by the end of next summer.

I’m VERY hopeful, because I’m a high school teacher and I would dearly love to be back in school for a fresh new year.

If that scenario holds, and things are mostly back to how things were before, then what’s that mean for Magic? What’s that mean for a collection?

#1: Paper singles for Standard might as well have rotated.

This means that cards from Eldraine, Ikoria, Theros, and Core 2021 are not only a bad idea to pick up, but you should be treating them right now as though they are about to rotate. Between the bannings and the coronavirus, Standard hasn’t been played in person in a while and I wouldn’t expect there would be much to play before rotation hits in late September/early October of 2021. 

Last year, when Theros was coming out and we didn’t know what was going to happen in 2020, I picked up a lot of Bonecrusher Giant, Fae of Wishes, and Murderous Riders. Yes, those are good in Pioneer, but looking at the play patterns online, I don’t think that I’m going to have a chance to sell these before they rotate out of Standard. C’est la vie.

Normally, when rotation is nigh, I plan to be out of those cards by Easter, but that’s probably not going to happen this year. I don’t like waiting for cards to fall too far, and here we are. Prices are already super depressed. Start with the best performing decks from this past weekend’s Zendikar Rising Championship.

Lovestruck Beast is a four-of all over the place, in 40% of decks, and is pretty much a bulk rare.

Traditionally speaking, the best time to sell a Standard card is when it is a year old, give or take. Lovestruck should, at the least, be a $2-$3 card. It was trending that way in January, but around March, when things shut down, the price tanked. 

It’s this way for most Standard staples: Bonecrusher is a buck, Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate is down to $7 despite being the fourth-most-common card in Standard, and even brand-new, free-to-add-to-a-deck Shatterskull Smashing is a mythic at $8 and falling! These cards should cost a lot more than they do.

One factor to consider is that these are the first sets with Collector Boosters. It’s true that foil Showcase Lovestruck Beast is more expensive at $2, but that’s what I would expect from a card with high Standard play and low Commander play. Compare the stats on The Great Henge, a card I’m pretty high on. Sure, it gets some Standard play (especially because it curves out with Lovestruck) but Commander is driving that boat, with nearly 16,000 decks registering it online. 

I’m willing to listen to discussions that with Commander players spending more on chase versions, the regular versions of things will be less sought after and therefore less expensive. 

But 40% of Standard decks playing this as a four-of, yet it’s a quarter? No, this is a demand problem that won’t be fixed until the very end of Standard, and I don’t want to hope that there’s a brief window of crazy Standard demand right before rotation. 

#2: Plan for the frenzy in Modern, Pioneer, and Standard.

I’m thinking of Fabled Passage here.

This is absurd. This is a land that has two printings, yes, but it’s also in 65% of the Standard field, averaging more than three copies each. It’s listed in 33k Commander decks online, and is the only fetchland currently legal in Pioneer, and is in more decks than basic Swamps. All of this is fact, and yet it’s $6 online!

Passage got a reprint in Core 21, and that put the price low enough that no one felt it was a barrier to get in. It’ll rotate out next fall, as both Throne and Core 21 will rotate out together. Very clever of Wizards, and I’d expect a Prismatic Vista reprint before we got a Passage reprint. Getting in at $6-7 and then exiting in 12-18 months for $12-15 seems quite reasonable.

Similarly, I’m in favor of getting in on Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. I’d understand if you wanted to wait till closer to rotation, but the lack of paper play means that there’s a big discount already built in:

Only 11,000 Commander decks have this listed online, and that feels off. Why wouldn’t you play this, when it offers such a backbreaking effect? Still, this was $60 before being reprinted, and is now $20. I wouldn’t be shocked if it went down to $15 by the end of October, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if it stayed where it was. I’ll be watching.

I admit I’m more hesitant about Modern cards, given that we’re getting Modern Horizons 2 at some point in 2021, but whatever isn’t reprinted in that set, you’ve got a green light from me to go wild. I’m most interested in Force of Negation, because a reprint will either drop that to $20 or a lack thereof will send it heading for $75+. There’s not much room for middle ground there.

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 Bottom On Commander Legends?

I know that there are realities to the coronavirus that far, far outstrip Magic and drafting. I’ve eschewed family this holiday season and my kids haven’t seen their grandparents in more than a year. 

That being said, the virus took away quite the run of sweet draftable products. We lost out on months of Mystery drafts, there haven’t been Jumpstarts cracked all over the place, Double Masters was a delight…but the pinnacle of things for me have been the Commander Legends drafts I’ve done on MTGO.

This set is awesome to draft. It’s pointed right at players like me, with the combination of politics, drafting synergies, and good reprints. Unfortunately, we’re not able to draft this set in person in the US, and so our supply of cards has been through the Collector Boosters. 

We are approaching the maximum of supply for Commander Legends, though there is some more product undoubtedly coming. I don’t think there will be enough to depress prices more than ten percent or so. 

I’m still going to be patient until after Christmas for buying quantities, but I’ve moved in on personal copies for my Cube and my Commander decks. Let’s talk about the best deals and what they might get to.

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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.

Ikoria on the Floor

Look, I’ll be honest: I don’t think you should buy anything from Commander Legends this weekend unless you’re getting a great price and/or it’s something you have to have for a deck. I just bought a couple of things for my Commander decks, but I’m waiting for people to finish opening their Collector Booster boxes. 

Instead, I want to look at the set we left behind, and compare prices to their Commander usage, and tell you what to stock up on.

The reason I want to just look at Commander numbers and nothing else is simple: I don’t think we will be playing in person (in North America) until next summer, when this is on the verge of rotating. Plus, all the big movers during the pandemic have been Commander-based anyway, and I’m looking for cards that are going to increase in value.

Some caveats: nonfoil, regular frame and foil regular frame mean about the same thing at this point when it comes to prices. I’m working on the math and crunching a lot of numbers, and I promise, I’m close to having something I’m comfortable reporting to you.

So, about Ikoria. It’s a fun set, with a lot of cool interactions, but to no one’s surprise, the most popular Commander card is a set: 

Not a shocker, really. These lands are incredibly versatile: fetchable, three colors, and can be cycled away. That’s really, shockingly, amazingly useful. Commander doesn’t tend to be a format with a whole lot of ‘got to hit my mana on curve every turn’ action, and in my Ur-Dragon deck, I fetch for one of these before I go get a dual land. 

Naturally, I think you should be all over these versions: 

They are prettier, that’s a given, but they are also a lot more rare than the originals. We don’t yet have data on what happens to a reprint of a card that has an Extended Art version, aside from the pure reprint of Fabled Passage, which included EA and Foil EA. Frankly, the data on that is stunning: 

This was a $100 card during Throne of Eldraine, it’s still the only fetchland in Pioneer, and it’s in 32k commander decks online. I know that I meant for this to be about Ikoria, but the ToE version is about twice as much, and there isn’t a huge supply of either version on TCG. Picking up FEA versions from Core 21 for $25 and under feels like a great deal at this point.

The Triomes are technically Showcase, not Extended Art, and that’s an important distinction. A reprint on these cards is inevitable, perhaps in the right set of Commander decks in a year or two. What won’t be the same is that these Showcase version have different art and a different frame, making the price gap between the Showcase versions and the regulars just too small. Why on earth would I buy the regular for $7, when the Showcase is $1.50 more?

I absolutely think you should get Showcase foils of these lands if your budget can accommodate it, because these are gorgeous. They are going for $20-$30, depending on the specific land, but they are among the best you could hope for in that color combination. 

These lands have a high EDH pedigree, even popping up in Modern, they are fantastic to look at and they are available for a good price. Proceed accordingly, but again, focus on the Showcase versions and not the regular frame.

One more aside: Lurrus of the Dream Den and Yorion, Sky Nomad are the only companions worth paying attention to. Lurrus gets a LOT more play, across a lot more formats. Again, I think you should go for the EA versions, but the reprint risk here is more random. Companions probably won’t be another mechanic in Standard again for a long while, but Secret Lair: Companions is much more likely in my view. 

Back to Commander, and what might be the most unfriendly card in this article:

Yes, that’s right. No Commanders for anyone, no flashback, no recast from the yard, etc. Just pure, good, wholesome fun. This is the most used card by the numbers, and 8000 people using this in just seven months is pretty impressive for a card. It’s pretty fun to deny things to other people.

The FEA foils tell the same story, starting at $19. There’s only 26 vendors on TCG with NM FEA versions of the card, and only one of those has four or more. That’s a really small number for a mere rare, not a mythic. For comparison’s sake, there’s about the same number of copies of General Kudro of Drannith in FEA.

A card with very little Constructed play but a lot of potential as a Commander hate bear is somewhere I want to be. $20 is reasonable for the foil, and EA versions at about $5 would be decent pickups too.

Surprisingly, the next card has a promo to chase, and it’s already been chased pretty hard: 

The Promo Pack version has a foil and a nonfoil, but there’s no Extended Art version at all, since it’s an uncommon. We see Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach as two of the most-played green spells in Commander because of the ramp, but Migration Path is a worthy #3 and is several dollars less for the sweet foil version. 

Cultivate and Reach are still good late-game, but Path gives you the flexibility of a re-draw if you don’t want to ramp up and cast your Commander again. It’s been widely adopted and you should have some copies handy when the day comes that the foil promo version is $7. 

Finally, I want to talk about the Ultimatums. Yes, they are hard to cast, but two of them are clearly the best, with the other three still being good but not game-breakers the same way. Eerie and Ruinous are enormous card advantage, and have the prices to back it up. Genesis will get you some amazing plays, and the other two are just not as powerful.

I think the EA versions are decent pickups, but the FEA copies are still $15 or less and that’s really where you want to be for the best two, and possibly Genesis as well. This is a card that’s difficult to reprint unless they add it to a Commander deck of exactly these colors, which isn’t impossible. Even then, you’d be looking at a regular frame nonfoil copy, while you’ve got the sweet ones. Get yours while you can.

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.