Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Seconds-in-Command

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Commander 2019 previews have finally finished, and I hope you took my advice and bought plenty of the foils I told you to buy a month ago

The headliners for all the decks are three colors each, but one of the odder things about these decks is how the secondary legends can cause spikes all on their own, depending on the mechanic involved. So this week, I want to look at these cards and see what jumps out at me. I wish I could say with confidence that these are all going to go crazy, but at the least, they work well with what each of these Commanders is trying to do.

Greven, Predator Captain is a fun card, very thematic, and someone we ought to hear more from. I like the ability that draws cards and plays into what the deck wants to do. The question is, how can we make this hurt as much as possible? Rakdos cards often focus on the opponent losing life, but there’s a lot of cards that can really pay off for us.

My favorite accessory is even on theme: Hatred. Only costs half your life to kill someone now. Unspeakable Symbol can get you there too, but requires a little more math.

Or, if you’re absolutely sure that no one at the table is playing with Lightning Bolt, then Soulgorger Orgg is your guy. Have a sacrifice outlet ready if you really want to impress. Black and red offer some fun ways to discard/reanimate creatures too, and I will respect you greatly if you pull off the Orgg tricks at instant speed, or even twice in one turn!

Bond of Agony also is good for a laugh, Dire Fleet Ravager says hello, Havoc Festival is truly nutty, and you have both Necrologia and Necropotence to have your life loss lead to more good things. 

Doom Whisperer, Erebos, God of the Dead, Kuro, Pitlord, Vilis, Broker of Blood all have fun effects too. There’s a whole deck to be made out of paying life, just be sure you can do the tricks more than once.

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Elsha of the Infinite is a Jeskai card built around noncreature and nonland spells, but what are we going to do that’s better than just plain old Talrand, Sky Summoner plus cantrips and spells?

One way is tokens. Mastery of the Unseen is my favorite way to turn the unneeded lands on top of your library into semi-useful creatures and get them out of the way. Sure, you could play Ghoulcaller’s Bell and other such things to just mill them away, but get your value!

The standbys of Soothsaying and Sensei’s Divining Top are going to be very good here, but let’s really dive in. Think Tank is slow, but it does some work as a backup to the really good effects of this type. You know what’s on top anyway, why not arrange things appropriately? Search for Azcanta is going to draw you a lot more heat but is also good. You’ve got to balance power and efficacy here. Yes, Elsha allows you to cast planeswalkers at instant speed but thankfully, only Teferi, Temporal Archmage allows that to give value. 

The Mirari Conjecture is an excellent way to regain value off of the instants and sorceries you’re casting, and has that 10x foil multiplier that all the Sagas do:

Off the top of the deck for value means Oracle’s Vault has a lot of potential, but it was a promo and all the versions are cheap, so spec carefully. A much better spec card, because it’s on the Reserved List, is Bosium Strip:

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Basically, it’s going to give flashback to any instant or sorcery in the yard for three mana. It’s harder to kill, being an artifact, but the buy-in of only $3 is exceedingly tempting and quite safe since it’ll never ever be reprinted.

Tahngarth, First Mate wants to attack. A lot. So how can we make sure he does so safely, or at least hits like a truck? 

Whispersilk Cloak is the clear winner here, but there’s EIGHT printings and four foils. This is going to be hard to make money on, especially because the oldest one comes from a block with crappier foiling. Tahngarth also kicks butt with a Sword of Anything and Anything Else, but I don’t expect those prices to move too much based on his use.

Fireshrieker has potential to kill a lot of players, but at three printings and three foils, big gains are unlikely. Hot Soup, Prowler’s Helm, and Hammer of Nazahn all have potential too, or maybe you want to get galaxy brain and pick up the equipment assistants: Stoneforge Mystic, Steelshaper’s Gift, Stonehewer Giant, and Steelshaper’s Apprentice. 

You’ve got choices when it comes to enchantments too, but I don’t like those as much because of the one-use factor. Wrecking Ogre is particularly hilarious though. Be careful about the instants you select, because sometimes, you won’t have control of Tahngarth and things like Temur Battle Rage might not be game over.

Volrath, the Shapestealer is something that cares about counters and while some of these cards have already gone crazy, having the third color of blue allows for some real shenanigans.

Necrotic Ooze is a pet card of mine. Any time we want to do fun things with abilities, this should come along for the ride. Also fun with Body Double. Crumbling Ashes has spiked more than once and yet hasn’t been reprinted. If Volrath shows up on EDHREC as a top new commander, I’d expect this to blast through $10 and approach $15.

Flourishing Defenses is a lot more mana but free tokens are free tokens, especially when combined with something truly busted like Contagion Engine. Double up on the effect with Nest of Scarabs, and thank me later.

Cytoplast Manipulator and Simic Manipulator are a fun way to go if you want to control things instead of destroy them. Beguiler of Wills can be a very fun thing to copy with Volrath too. Finally, the old standby of Cauldron of Souls is pretty great in a deck where putting those -1/-1 counters can be a benefit. Save all of your things as well as the things you want to copy!

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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More Rotation Pickups

Yesterday we got confirmation that the materials leak was correct, that the Commander 2019 decks are all about mechanics. I was almost dead-on in my predictions, and hopefully you bought some fifty-cent Secret Plans while the getting was good, or you bought some seventy-five-cent Field of the Dead and are reselling those right now.

I’m surprised that red is getting populate as a mechanic, but that’s neither here nor there.

With rotation upon us, there’s some headliner cards that are losing value at a rapid pace, and we’ve still got about two months until official rotation. Yes, your eyes are going to be drawn to the Commander decks and the new previews and the new spikes, but really, making money there is just a question of listening to the groupthink on the ProTrader Discord channels. 
If you can’t keep an eye on that rapid scroll of value, fear not. Cards are getting dumped as rotation approaches, and some of these cards don’t deserve that treatment at all.

Legion Warboss ($5 nonfoil/$9 foil)

I recognize that Warboss isn’t about to rotate, but this is too low a price for the confluence of factors at play. First of all, the foil multiplier is too low. This ought to be in the range of $15 for foils, especially because this is a very popular card in the Legacy and Modern prison strategies. The benefit here is that you spend 2R, and instantly get two creatures, one of which even has haste. Warboss might not end the game quite as quickly as Goblin Rabblemaster, but the benefit of not having to attack is a real one. 

Field of Ruin ($3/$15)

Field of Ruin has quietly become one of the most ubiquitous cards in Modern. A whole lot of decks are playing a couple, especially alongside other basic-finders like Assassin’s Trophy, Ghost Quarter, or Path to Exile. I’m quite surprised that this was never an FNM promo, being an uncommon, but here we are. I don’t know when it’ll get reprinted, but I’m gladly going to pick up foils in anticipation of $20 or $25. It’s just in so many decks!

Vanquisher’s Banner ($5/$10)

Foils especially should be targeted here, because it’s in 12,000 Commander decks and they are safe from being reprinted in Commander 2019. This is a long time to go between potential reprints, so get your personal copies and then add a few more. Sunbird’s Invocation is in a similar spot: Buy your foils now and thank me when they spike.

Timestream Navigator ($2/$5)

Yes, this is a niche card but the extra-turn effects are never to be underestimated, and this is a card that will eventually be broken. It’s designed to be difficult to break, but foil mythics from the last small set are always going to be appealing to me.

Blood Sun ($1.50/$6)

This was about half its current price before the Internet freaked out on the realization that this turned off the drawback of Lotus Field, and honestly, that mentality is something I want to capitalize on. It’s not difficult to imagine that there’s going to be other lands that this is good with. For example, this also turns off the sacrifice clause of City of Traitors or can be used offensively to turn off fetchlands for both players. It’s open-ended, a trait which just means you want a handful of foils waiting patiently for their day in the sun.

All the flip cards from Ixalan block – Just pick up some foils now. Go for the special promo Buy-a-Box versions if you can, but foil flip cards are very rarely reprinted and you should feel good about this acquisition. 

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Oath of Teferi ($1/$5)

Yes, it’s in two colors and that makes it problematic for Commander as opposed to The Chain Veil, but I like getting in here at a pretty low price. War of the Spark triggered an increase because somehow we thought Standard would devolve into Planeswalkers fighting over value on the board. Silly us! It’s still very strong in Commander, if not hugely adopted yet. 

Foil Sagas (varied prices)

The Sagas have high foil multipliers nearly across the board. Lots of them are in the 5x range and a couple are crazy high, like The Eldest Reborn which is at a split of $0.50/$7. It seems that there’s a large group of collectors who wanted foil Sagas, because I can’t find a source of demand listed. EDHREC doesn’t show them being used a lot, nor does tappedout or any other database I use for this. It helps that these are pretty unlikely to get printed again, and especially not in foil. I can imagine a scenario where a lot of Sagas spike pretty hard (counter manipulation?) and foils could really hit a high. 

Foil Rat Colony ($0.75/$3)

All of the cards that let you break the four-of rule in Magic have eventually been worth more than expected. Relentless Rats has been printed three times and is still a dollar common. Shadowborn Apostle is more, with a single printing and a theme it can be dedicated to. What I am noticing is the synergy between the Colony and the Relentless Rats (the extra black mana is worth it to get the growth in toughness) and that foils of the Colony are cheap compared to the others. Get while the getting is good!

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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Where Will Core 2020 End Up?

Core sets, especially given the current Magic calendar, are in a weird place. By design, they are a spot to reprint stuff that needs reprinting, and also represent the sets with the shortest amount of time in Standard. 

Core 2020 isn’t quite lackluster, but after the combination of War of the Spark into Modern Horizons, it sure feels like a letdown. Despite what you might be thinking, the set isn’t terrible in terms of total value: right now, the value of one of each of all the cards is not that different from where Core 2019 was at the same point last summer. 

What I want to do today is look at how the cards from 2019 did in their Standard lifetimes, and see what applies from that set to this set, so we can decide what’s a good buy as Commander 2019 and Thrones of Eldraine previews begin to suck up our attention.

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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.

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Commander 2019 Themes and Speculation

Yes, we’re going to have a fall set named Thrones of Eldraine, and apparently, all the Faeries cards in existence are getting bought up. That’s the most recent news.

Two days before that, though, we got word via a product information page that the four decks will focus on mechanics, rather than tribes. That product information page has been changed, so this is unofficial, and I’m keeping that in mind as I think about what I want to buy in anticipation.

The mechanics are flashback, madness, populate, and madness. We don’t know the colors of each, which is a shame, but a little work with Scryfall and we can see where the most likely color overlaps are and go from there. 

In a way, I’m really glad that Eldraine was previewed right now (instead of the plan on Saturday) because now most people are caught up on Faeries and the Commander themes aren’t as obvious now.

One caveat about my method: I’m going for the number of cards that actually have the mechanic, not popular enablers. (e.g. Burning Vengeance, one of the best reasons to be on Flashback cards, won’t be on this count) 


MadnessPopulateFlashbackMorph
White251628
Blue702452
Black2402027
Red1603029
Green222436
Multicolor1 (BR)6 (all GW)07 + 4 colorless

By these numbers, it looks like BR Madness, GW Populate, RUG Flashback, and UG Morph.

Wizards isn’t confined by this data when it comes to Commander. In fact, this probably isn’t right at all, because black is only represented once. Flashback and Morph have a significant presence in all five colors, so I fully expect something wacky there. It’s been a while since we got four-colors, and maybe we’re getting new Partner commanders? We will find out soon, but even with this basic data, there’s a few picks I’m making.

Foil Avacyn’s Judgment ($0.50): Because Madness requires a setup card (some way to discard it on demand)  you’re almost always operating from behind. You really, really want some way to make up for what you’re losing, and this is one of the best X-for-1 cards out there. This feels like an excellent card to be included in the deck itself, which means I want to have some foils at my disposal.

Foil Welcome to the Fold ($1): Also at about $1, supply is a bit shallower on this one which means it’s more likely to go up. All the reasons from Avacyn’s Judgment apply here, though there’s less chance of Blue being in the Madness deck. Lower supply does mean that people have bought more of this over the years, and it’s not hard to see why. Drawback is that this card is awful when not done for its madness cost.

Foil From Under the Floorboards ($0.50): Completing the cycle here is another sub-$1 foil, and this is a backbreaker of a card if you can do it at instant speed, then it’s your turn and you untap. A shame that you can’t ambush blockers, but it’s still very good and at this price, very low risk.

Foil Dralnu, Lich Lord ($10): As of this writing, there’s no NM foils available on TCG, and only 30 foils overall. Supply on a Time Spiral foil rare was never really extensive, but EDHREC shows this as a pretty unpopular card. I’m leery of it too, but when the decks are spoiled, and the Flashback deck is at least Dimir colors, this will go up just because it has the word on it. It’ll come back down in price pretty quick as people realize the inherent drawbacks, but I’m just trying to keep you ahead of the trend.

Mind over Matter ($20): This is easy money. First of all, it’s a Reserved List card, so it’s pretty unlikely to go down in value. Second, it’s a combo enabler all over the place. It’s an instant kill with Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, and there’s a bunch of creatures that let you draw your whole deck with this out. Third, it’s awesome for Madness (because you discard) and Flashback (because you discard) at instant speed with zero mana invested. Just a little attention and this will go through the roof. Doubling up seems like a safe bet, but it might go all the way to $60 depending on the Commanders and cards that get revealed.

Foil Deathmist Raptor ($4): There aren’t a lot of value engines in a Morph deck, but a lot of them are in green. It’s nigh impossible not to get this back over and over again, and while we don’t know for sure what the colors are for the decks, this is a mythic from a smaller-run set and is unlikely to lose value over time. If the morph deck has green, this will jump to $10, perhaps $15, and you want to be able to sell into that hype.

Foil Ixidron (Now about $20): This was a lot less a week ago. Don’t buy into it now. It’s got a long history of being one of the most annoying cards at the Commander table, since it turns off almost every other creature. If the Morph deck is blue, this will be in the deck but there’s no profit to be made buying in at $20. 

Foil Mischievous Quanar ($6): This hasn’t spiked yet, and that’s good for us. It requires a ton of mana but it’s a reusable effect and is a lot of fun. This is an old-border foil, supply is low, and it’s already in the Commander decks that want to do the copying thing.

Foil Obscuring Aether ($0.75): If you think the Morph deck is green, this is a great pickup. Three mana for a 2/2 always feels a little bad, and this enables turn two Morph plays. 

Foil Weaver of Lies ($2): the buyout has begun on this card, but if you get in soon, you’ll find some NM foils still around. Again, this presumes the deck is blue, but there’s not a lot of ways to turn creatures face down and re-use their abilities.

Foil Mastery of the Unseen ($1): It’s white, but manifest and morph play well together.

Foil Secret Plans ($0.50): If you’re willing to bet on UG in the Morph deck, there’s nothing you want more. I’m not comfortable going that far, but this is going to hit $5 if the Commander is the right colors.

Foil Olivia, Mobilized for War ($5): BR seems like a pretty safe bet for the Madness deck, and Olivia v.2 gives a pretty great way to discard for value. Note that it’s any creature coming into play, so a token will trigger her ability. 

Pack Rat ($2/$5): I’m in on the foil if you can, but if this isn’t in the Madness deck it’s going to pop. There’s generations of players who don’t know how absurd this card is, and perhaps it’s your turn to show them.

Skirge Familiar ($3): There’s no foils of this available, and the cost is pretty high at five mana. This enables a few different combos, and is a potential reprint in the Commander deck, but I will keep a close eye on this. 

Tortured Existence ($1.50): If you’ve never seen this card loop things you hate to see looped, well, you’re in for it now. The problem is that if it’s reprinted, there’s no foils of this. Also, it requires the madness card to be a creature card. I wouldn’t get a ton, given those constraints.

Foil Altar of the Lost ($0.35): No matter the colors of the deck, this will see consideration if the deck is this focused. Plus it’s super cheap, a trait that always makes me feel better about a spec.

Foil Increasing Confusion ($3): This is already three bucks because people love mill strategies, and this is a neat flashback card too. Increasing Ambition is too costly for my taste, and the rest of the cycle is underpowered. 

Foil Metallurgic Summonings ($5): If the flashback deck is spells-based, as seems likely, this is one of the best ways to get amazing value from spells you’re playing. Note it cards about converted mana cost, not what you paid, so Lingering Souls when flashed back would get you a 3/3.

Foil Secrets of the Dead ($5): This is already a $5 foil because there’s a lot of ways to enable it, and it’s a very strong candidate to be in a Flashback-based deck. I expect the foil to double, and if the card isn’t in the set, the nonfoil will go from fifty cents up to a couple dollars.

Foil Budoka Gardener ($8): Populate makes one copy of a token. I won’t be shocked to see a spell that has multiple instances of Populate on it, but we want to have big creature tokens for it to copy. This card is absurd early and late, and if it isn’t in the deck, the nonfoil could pop a bit too.

Foil Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter ($1.50): Again, she’s good early and late, and I mostly prefer for the X/X tokens to be static rather than constantly changing. (e.g. Voice of Resurgence’s token)

FTV: Lore Phyrexian Processor ($2): Yes, it’s ugly FTV foiling but this is the only foil version available. There’s a lot of risk in a card like this (Unless you’re clever and have Trostani or Angelic Chorus out) but if you’re looking for big tokens, this’ll get you there.

Foil Wurmcalling ($2): Finally, a card near and dear to my own heart. It’s overcosted as compared to other X-sized token spells like the one-shot Slime Molding, but it’s repeatable and requires a counterspell to be dealt with permanently. 

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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