Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Checking Back On Wilds Of Eldraine

Every so often, we need to look back at previous sets. Specs are not what they used to be, and I’m only interested in things with a high degree of usage, preferably in Commander, and that have been out for a few months. 

So today, we’re going to take a look at a few cards from Wilds of Eldraine, and see what’s at the intersection of ‘used often’ and ‘maximum supply’ which is the most likely path to future profit.

A couple of caveats before we get into this list. First of all, the reprint risk is real and constant. Between Special Guests, The List, a million Commander precons per year, everything Secret Lair, and the myriad bonus sheets we get with modern-day sets, there’s never been more reprints flooding the zone. Second, when using EDHREC data, we have to be aware of its limitations. Only the most invested of players bother to upload their lists, and there’s a bias towards precons in that dataset. The data from EDHREC is useful, but it’s not perfect and it’s not all-encompassing. 

Also, a couple of these cards have likely been flagged in the ProTrader Discord and mentioned on MTG Fast Finance. That doesn’t make them worse picks, it just means that the cards have already been noticed as future gainers. Finally, since all of these are relatively recent, there’s a chance that the prices could go lower as enough packs are opened, and make their way into the retail network. I’ll note what I can in this regard. 

Beseech the Mirror ($15 and trending down slightly) – This is the #2 card by EDHREC rankings from WOE, and I suspect that’s buoyed up by cEDH players, a subset that is growing in number and influence. It’s easy to see this as a combo piece of some kind, but it’s also just an extremely effective card. The card is inching downward in price, as the graph shows:

It’s a mythic from an in-print set, but also keep in mind that it’ll be Standard legal for the next three years. That’s a long time to unlock a broken combo, or for some new interaction to come along. The basic version is probably going to offer the best gains, as the FEA version is pushing $50 right now. It’s much easier to imagine the basic version going $15 to $30 than the FEA going from $50 to $100.

Up the Beanstalk ($2.50 foil) – Uncommons like this represent a strong candidate for reprints, as they are powerful yet inexpensive. Green decks in Commander have a range of choices like this: Garruk’s Uprising, Elemental Bond, Guardian Project, etc., but this is cheap as heck and comes with its own draw built in. I love it as a cantrip engine with cost reducers, and it’s already in more than 30,000 decks online. I would advocate getting your personal copies now, and a few extras. I wouldn’t plan on waiting forever, though, because of that reprint risk. 

Virtue of Persistence ($15 showcase foil) – Just about every black Commander deck should think about running this card. It’s strictly better than Debtors’ Knell, given the change in colors and mana cost. What it offers, though, is two cards you want to play rolled up together. We all know we don’t play enough point removal in Commander, and there’s always a good target for -3/-3. After you solve that problem, the enchantment is nicely tucked away in exile, where only something super niche like Riftsweeper can get to it. I think this card is more popular in casual circles than we can easily measure, just look at the prices for this compared to the other Virtue cards. As such, I advocate you stock up on the showcase foils, since the prices are so close to each other. This is another card that has gotten some Standard play as well, thanks to the efficiency of the two spells combined. It’s also a candidate for cascade decks, giving those decks a two-mana removal spell that has a cascade value of seven mana. Against an aggro red deck, one kill spell and two life can be enough to gain the turn you need to stabilize.

Stroke of Midnight ($5 promo foil) – I have gotten burned badly by promo foils before. There’s just so many of these out there, it’s hard for it to gain much further than it has. We’d need it to hit $8 or preferably the $10 range before there was a decent profit to be made, and so I’m mentioning this card as a card to avoid. By all means, grab your personal copies, it’s in nearly 100,000 decks online, but understand that the supply on these is deep and the demand will not have a chance to hollow it out before we get to the next big thing. 

Monstrous Rage ($3 non-foil) – I would not have picked this at the outset of Wilds of Eldraine, but here we are, a $3 nonfoil common. It’s gotten here as a four-of in assorted Red Deck Wins/Prowess/Aggro decks, good for three power and trample. With the addition of Slickshot Show-Off, this is one mana to add five power to a creature, and +1/+1 and trample sticks around! Up from $1 at the start of 2024, it’s taken off fast with the explosion of decks that want it, which is getting a Slickshot boost. I like nonfoils here for tourney players who hate curling, but you can talk me into shiny ones as well. Your reprint risk here is mainly Secret Lair/The List, because a Commander inclusion would need four decks to get the needed playset. The Monster Role is a specific mechanic and hard to add into other sets, plus this would be a pretty quick reprint. I think there will be a window in the next few months for you to buy now and resell at a good profit.

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.

Gonti, the Thief in Chief, Rides Again!

Outlaws of Thunder Junction is here, and while I paid attention to Ghired two weeks ago, I want to look at the most popular commander from the set so far: Gonti, Canny Acquisitor!

Original Gonti is a great time, allowing you the fun of stealing cards from someone else’s deck. The new version adds two colors, lets you cast things for cheaper, and can trigger more than once per turn! This is tricky to do via webcam, but it’s so much fun in person to have those face down cards, those awesome spells that you’re stealing from others’ decks.

Stealing creatures and spells is a deck in and of itself. Gonti gives you access to a lot of good things to do, and many of these are lined up nicely to climb in price. Since Gonti is a face commander for an entire deck, I’m going to avoid things that were printed in the deck. (way to go, tossing Edric in this deck, A+ inclusion!)

Some of these cards were mentioned last year when we got Tasha, the Witch Queen, but Gonti won’t have the same emphasis on casting the spells. Dealing damage with creatures gets you some extra cards to play with, and that’s what the deck wants most. Remember that you can play lands too!

Gonti, Lord of Luxury (Secret Lair Foil $3) – Trite but true, decks like to replicate their Commanders’ abilities. I have trouble with the idea of a deck that plays three-color Gonti but not the original. He’s in 60,000 decks on EDHREC, in addition to being the headliner for a few thousand decks. The Invisible Ink foil is available for very cheap, and should be a strong addition. 

There is a whole bunch of cards that are cheap to cast and are unblockable. This is exactly what the deck wants, so you can attack the turn you play Gonti and get some cards. Many of these have only one foil printing, and the foils have been hollowed out over time from things like Rogues and Ninja decks. These cards include: Changeling Outcast (MH2 retro foil for $4), Gudul Lurker ($1 common, $10 foil!), Mist-Cloaked Herald ($5 foil), Slither Blade ($7 foil), Tormented Soul (promo for $4), Triton Shorestalker ($6 foil), Dimir Infiltrator ($1/$15 foil), $1 Invisible Stalker.

If the new Gonti deck takes off, these are my favorite targets for this group of cards: $3 foil Escape Artist, 50¢ foil Jhessian Infiltrator, 75¢ FEA Mercurial Spelldancer , $2 foil Metathran Soldier, $3 DBL Suspicious Stowaway.

The good news is that several of these come with the Commander deck, but this would probably exert pressure on the foils to climb even higher. Outcast is also a changeling, which enables a lot of other strategies as well. The really great thing about these is that you can attack several players, put cards in exile, and use whenever. You’ll get your value!

Recently, this commander was featured on The Command Zone, with two very good inclusions: Thada Adel, Acquisitor ($12) and Toski, Bearer of Secrets (foil showcase $13). Thada is amazingly underplayed, but hasn’t been printed in 15 years. It’s the perfect card, with islandwalk and a great ability that Gonti makes even better, steal Sol Ring and play for free!

The next genre of cards that should be included are cards that draw you a card when you deal damage. You want to deal damage, so this works out nicely.

Bident of Thassa (promo $2, foil $4) – Another card that hasn’t had much reprint action, there’s enough bundle foils to need a lot of sales to get it moving.

Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor ($18, but might drop on rotation) – Paying life can sting, but the options for Gix’s second ability will be truly phenomenal. It’s a popular card in Standard at the moment, so any gains it makes means it’ll fall that much farther as rotation approaches.

Coastal Piracy ($4) – A classic, and harder to remove than Gix or the like. The only foils are OG Mercadian Masques and 8th edition, both too expensive for this endeavor.

Reconnaissance Mission ($2 surge foil!) – We’ve seen surge foils spike if they are the only premium version of a card, and this one checks all the boxes. Doesn’t matter that it’s an uncommon, you only got one of these per premium deck, and those decks are a pretty penny each.

Finally, some cards that are just good in this deck:

Kaito Shizuki (Tetsuo Hara foil for $13) – Kaito makes an unblockable, gives good value, and has a sweet foil version available for a very reasonable cost. I like what he offers and I imagine he makes it in the decks as they get built.

Xanathar, Guild Kingpin (Ampersand foils for $25) – There’s only around a thousand Ampersand promos out there, making this the sweetest version of the card available. Hilariously, Gonti’s reduction would apply to the way Xanathar allows you to play cards from their library, so go to town!

Mind Flayer, the Shadow (foils $17, Universe Within $2 nonfoil) – It’s seven mana, but you can adjust when it’s a creature and when it isn’t. There’s a surprising number of the reprint version out there, so I’d avoid those nonfoils and instead get the proper Stranger Things foil to play with. You especially want to do this before season 5, the final season, comes out on Netflix.

Havengul Lich (nonfoils $2, foils $18) – Finally, one of my pet cards when it comes to stealing things from other people. No new foils have been made since 2012, so when the run begins on the foils, those prices will go high quickly. The ability costs one mana, and Gonti reduces the cost by the same amount, so the two of them together read ‘you may play Sultai creature spells from any graveyard’ and that’s a very good time.

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 Toughest Pulls and Strangest Prices in Outlaws of Thunder Junction

The set prereleases this weekend, and officially goes up for sale next Friday, the 19th.

This weekend, I want to think about what is super rare, based on my calculations from last week, and decide if the preorder prices are within a range I’m comfortable with. I almost never preorder cards, but if the math says one thing and the prices say something else, it’s time to make some moves.

Textured Foils (1 in 1500 Collector Booster packs)

The Breaking News Textured Foils are easily the rarest pulls in the set, and rank as some of the most difficult pulls that aren’t serialized. It’s a straightforward math problem: If these are just 1 in 100 to drop for any card, and there’s 15 cards, then boom, 1500 packs to get a specific card. 

As such, the current crop of prices feels like it’s too low. Let’s get a snapshot of the cards, the EDHREC data, and the current preorder pricing.

OTP Breaking News Textured FoilEDHREC # of decksCurrent Preorder Price
Leyline Binding5,175$99
Mana Drain289,681$259
Mindbreak Trap47,006$300
Overwhelming Forces1,158$153
Crackle with Power46,239$60
Indomitable Creativity4,820$56
Force of Vigor61,222$125
Anguished Unmaking213,666$56
Crime // Punishment307$35
Fractured Identity13,586$27
Oko, Thief of Crowns54,362$139
Contagion Engine43,077$55

Immediately, a couple of discrepancies jump out at me. Mana Drain deserves its price, but Anguished Unmaking is probably the most undervalued here. It’s in 73% as many decks, but the price tag does not line up. Granted, it’s got several different versions, including Game Day promos, a radical Secret Lair, and even a Surge Foil in the recent Fallout sets. 

Given the EDH popularity of the card, that’s the textured I see with the most value to be gained. I’m not guaranteeing anything, and I’ve bought zero of these cards (as I said, I hate preordering) but Anguished Unmaking is the card that will tell me if rarity becomes equal to the price. I also think Mindslaver is a bit underpriced here too–it’s a top Cube card, it’s casual gold, and this has no special versions to compete with this new version.

Conversely, I would tell people to stay the hell away from Mindbreak Trap at these prices. Yes, it’s a top cEDH card, but this price is the frantic must-have collector at work. It’s avoided all sorts of reprints over the years, and when the price is low I’ll scoop some up, but Trap being on the same level as Mana Drain? No way.

Some of the other cards have a cache because of Constructed popularity, and tournament players tend to hate it when things don’t match. Thoughtseize has had SO MANY reprints over the last few years, I would not be investing. Leyline Binding is an interesting case, especially with the recent surge in Leyline of the Guildpact decks.

Raised Foils (1 in 600+ CBs)

Now we don’t know the exact numbers here, but the drop rate is at least this bad and can only get worse. As time passes, we’ll get better data going. This subset is all new cards, too, so it’s all about predicting what will be mega-popular in Constructed or Casual formats.

Let’s look at these five cards.

BIG Vault Frame Raised FoilCurrent Preorder Price
Vaultborn Tyrant$94
Loot, the Key to Everything$230
Lotus Ring$240
Sword of Wealth and Power$253
Tarnation Vista$85

The Vista is overpriced, Loot seemed underwhelming, and the Sword is definitely unfair as hell in the right deck. You know for sure that people are going to be copying Time Warps and such. I suspect the Tyrant is the best deal of these five right now, given Dinosaur hype and the absolute ridiculousness of the card itself. Play big green creatures, and gain three and draw a card for your efforts.

That said, these are hard cards to nab from opening CBs, and high prices are to be expected. If the demand isn’t there, these prices will trend downwards, sometimes with surprising speed. If you open one, and can’t sell it on opening weekend, I’d advocate holding on for the long term if you want to maximize your return.

BIG Vault Frame Foil Mythic Rares (1 in 600 CBs)

These cards that aren’t reprints are a hard thing to predict. Experience tells us that the first few days after it goes on wide sale, the prices drift downwards some. But given the tiny drop rate of these cards, there won’t be a lot of restocking happening after the initial wave. That’s when some of these are really going to take off. 

I’m expecting big things from Transmutation Font, Memory Vessel, Esoteric Duplicator, and Simulacrum Synthesizer. Their prices are all currently too high for me to advocate buying in right now, but if all goes according to plan, we’ll be able to get in cheaply in a couple of weeks, once the furor dies down but before the FOMO takes over.

All 30 new cards don’t merit a table of comparisons here, because there’s too many unknowns. Most of these cards are aimed at one deck or another, so what deck they are for will determine their popularity. Sandstorm Salvager, for example, promises to be impressive in a tokens-theme deck as a mini-Overrun but a lot of other cards probably do it better. Inconsistency is a lot easier to identify than potential applications in the future.

I hope this glance at the subsets helps inform your buying this week, and if you’re at the prerelease, may your rares all be the same colors.

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 Mana Math for Outlaws of Thunder Junction (and its subsets)

Outlaws of Thunder Junction is here, and good golly, this is complicated as hell. 

It’s well-known by now that one special set of 30 cards was supposed to be an Aftermath-style set, but instead, they mashed that set into OTJ itself and now we have THIRTEEN special styles all present in one set of Collector Boosters.

It’s a lot to keep track of, and luckily for you, I’ve learned some tricks for keeping up with this sort of foolishness. Come on in, and let’s talk about both types of boosters, but especially the amazing things you can pull from a Collector Booster.

One thing to establish early: For all that there’s a million styles and subsets, there’s no serialized cards in these boosters. Not only does that limit the ‘chase’ feeling of the set, it also prevents me from making an estimation for how many Collector Boosters are printed. That’s a handy piece of information to have, but we’re without it this time around. 

For OTJ, there are some important changes to Play Boosters: 

You have a 20% chance to hit a List card this set, but for this set, The List is the Special Guests and the Big Score subset. For this slot in a Play Booster, it’s nonfoil only, and regular frame for BIG only, no vault frames. The List is ten Special Guests with snazzy hats, and 30 cards from The Big Score, so you’re 20% to hit any card from those forty. A specific card from this group of 40 will take you 200 Play Boosters to open, all nonfoil.

We also have a slot for a foil Booster Fun (which covers everything that isn’t regular frame, so no SPG) in  Play Boosters this set, though at an extremely low rate. They don’t give us odds for this, but it covers every rarity. Commons and uncommons made up 11 out of 12 pulls for the Wildcard slot earlier in the Play Booster, and I’d expect similar numbers here. We just don’t have enough information to do more than guess here, and my guess is that foil rares/mythics make up most of that leftover 8.25 percent. 

The big appeal here is Collector Boosters, and we’re given some exact number for each slot in one of those. From there, we can figure out the percentages to hit any card and the number of packs needed to open a specific card. 

Working our way down from the top of this image, we get pretty straightforward until we hit the 13th slot, the traditional foil or nonfoil rare or mythic rare. We’re outright told that the only foils here are the extended-art ‘face’ commanders from the OTC set, so everything else will be non-shiny. In total, there’s 44 cards here and all have an equal chance of showing up. Sometimes we can get foil versions, but this time none of them seem to be in foil. 

The 14th slot is dedicated to Breaking News, and while there are different listed rarities, we have 30 rares and 15 mythics. Traditionally, there’s two rares for every mythic, so the breakdown looks like this: 

Set/Rarity# of potential cardsPercent 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
OTP Nonfoil Rare3080%2.667%37.5
OTP Nonfoil Mythic Rare1520%1.33%75

For those of you craving a Mana Drain, you’ll hit one every 75 packs. Note that this slot is the newspaper version only, and not the Borderless version.

The last slot in the pack (the foil token doesn’t really count) is a doozy, with twelve different frames/treatments as options. We’re going to need another table:

Set/Finish/Rarity# of potential cardsPercent 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 (rounded)
OTJ EA Foil Rare5037.83%0.75%132
OTJ EA Foil Mythic114.2%0.38%264
OTP Foil Rare3023.2%0.77%129
OTP Foil Mythic155.8%0.39%259
Wanted Poster Foil Rare53.33%0.67%150
Wanted Poster Foil Mythic82.67%0.33%300
BIG EA Foil Mythic Rare245%0.21%480
BIG Foil Vault Frame Mythic Rare305%0.16%600
OTJ Borderless Foil Rare53.3%0.67%150
OTJ Borderless Foil Mythic20.67%0.33%300
OTJ Special Guest Foil Mythic103%0.3%333
OTP Textured Foil Mythic Rare151%0.067%1500
BIG Raised Foil Mythic Rare50.9% or less0.18% or less555+

Note: We aren’t expressly told the raised foil drop rate, just that it’s less than 1%. I’m working off of a 0.9% chance for any Raised Foil, but I can’t promise specific numbers here the way I can in other slots. I can say with confidence it’s at least 555 packs, and could easily be much rarer. For instance, if it’s 0.3% instead, that puts it in the 1 in 1500 range, which is more likely. 

Next week, I’ll be looking at the drop rates compared to the prices, looking for signs that the market isn’t moving fast enough. As always, if you have information or experiences that would help me make this more accurate, please reach out in the comments, on Twitter, or on the ProTrader Discord!

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.