Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Is it a real price, or an illusion?

Every set, there’s a couple of cards that end up being gainers in the long term. Ledger Shredder and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker are two examples of this from recent sets, cards that were available dirt cheap early on but became multi-format all-stars.

We also get examples of cards that show promise early, but whose prices trail ever farther downward until the early buyers have no choice but to be very very sad. 

Phyrexia: All Will Be One has a few cards who are up since the set’s release, and I want to highlight some of them and see if they can keep growing, or if they are destined to fall back down to earth. We’re going to be looking at the formats it’s played in, as well as if it’s got Commander chops, and go from there.

I won’t be posting the EDHREC numbers here because these are very new cards and while there’s something to be said for being an early adopter, I don’t want to lean too hard on such a small sample size. I’m not an expert on the format, just a rabid enthusiast.

Also, these prices might be outdated in a day or two as people go nuts for buying, especially with the oil-slick versions hitting the streets. Get what you can for yours!

Venerated Rotpriest ($10 for the cheapest version, $15 for the most expensive) – The Rotpriest decks aren’t winning big events yet, but they are fun to play and operate on an axis that many other decks can’t hang with. They might get an early hit in, but the counters will come when you try to deal with the card and they protect it in response. It adds up FAST, especially in multiples. March of Burgeoning Light is currently a bulk rare but if you have a Rotpriest in play, for two mana you get to find a second copy and slam it down. 

The deck is real enough to have caused other spikes, notably Ground Rift in Modern: 

Rotpriest itself has fallen by half from its preorder price, and I’m expecting it to fall just a little further, but I doubt it’ll make it all the way down to $5 for the base versions. Every one-mana protection spell makes the deck better, and heaven help us if they print another Standard-legal round of free spells.

Skrelv, Defector Mite ($8 to $10) – The mono-white decks are for real in Standard, and Skrelv is a Pioneer-legal version of Mother/Giver of Runes. The ability isn’t precisely protection, but it’s about 90% of what you wanted protection for in an aggressive deck: hexproof from kill spells and taking away their ability to block. Clearly worse on defense, and costs you mana or life, but still good enough that it is getting play in high numbers in a deck that has good versions across Standard and Pioneer.

I thought this price would have fallen a lot farther by now, and while more packs are being opened, the deck is good and the mite is a big reason why. Your opponent will need two kill spells early on, and especially if you’re following Skrelva with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, their plan is doomed.

All Will Be One ($11 to $22) – Another card that’s fallen by half, I don’t think this will go much further because it’s got a LOT of amazing interactions. I have seen people kill a table with this plus Black Sun’s Zenith. Any planeswalker you care to name is suddenly a violent death engine. This should be an auto-include with any non-token deck that plays Doubling Season. It’s a shame this doesn’t work with Suspend and time counters, but you can’t have everything.

What do you have is some really ridiculous combos. Quest for Pure Flame has attention as a Modern-legal two-card combo. The Red Terror is a Commander who can insta-win with the card, much like Ayara, First of Locthwain and Plague of Vermin. I think AWBO has great long-term potential, because it’s so open ended and every card that interacts with counters in some way can really abuse the enchantment.

Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler ($4 to $6) – The different versions are really close in price, which traditionally has been an indicator that a card is more popular in Constructed formats than Commander. In this case, Tyvar is seeing play with Devoted Druid combos, as the minus ability gets back either piece of the combo, in addition to allowing the druid to be played and used the same turn. 

The card was never going to be terribly expensive, but the amount of play and attention means that it’s only sunk to $4 as a rare, as opposed to something like Lukka, who’s $2 as a mythic.

Jace, the Perfected Mind ($8 to $29) – I’ve said before that I like Jace long-term if there’s a control deck in Standard. He’s already gone down to $7, up to $10, and is back to $8. Once we’re moved on to March of the Machine, I’m expecting his price to go back up, especially because he’s showing up in Modern mill decks as a three-mana, two-life way to draw three cards.

I’m hoping Jace gets a little cheaper, but I’m doubtful. We’re also in an awkward position in terms of rotation, as Jace, and the rest of ONE, will hit the one-year mark, usually where a Standard card gets most expensive, right about the time that its price starts to trickle down due to impending rotation. A careful line to balance on.

Sword of Forge and Frontier ($29 to $60) – This Sword is bonkers good in Commander, but not seeing much play outside 100-card formats. The cheapest versions should come down in price, but keep in mind that a Retro frame version is inevitable. There will be a complete set of Retro Swords available for all the completionists out there, especially since we’ve only got one Sword left to go.

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.

Previews, Teasers, And Hints

This week, we got our first preview of some of the products coming down the line this summer, and while there’s a lot to unpack from March of the Machine, its Aftermath, or the Lord of the Rings set, I want to talk about what we’ve been shown for Commander Masters, due out in early August.

We got previews of three cards: Capture of Jingzhou, Jeweled Lotus, and The Ur-Dragon! Additionally, the themes for the four preconstructed decks are Eldrazi, Planeswalkers, Enchantments, and Slivers!

Given that information, there’s some things we can think about and make plans for, while exercising some caution about what is still unknown.

First of all, I think that The Ur-Dragon is going to lead to a whole bunch of Dragon cards going wild. We’re going to be getting cards designed for Commander! We’re getting the first booster pack printing ever for the king of all Dragons. Until now, you were stuck with the Commander 2017 version (five and a half years old) or the Secret Lair drop version, which was in the very first round of cards and is three years old.

We’ve had some notable jumps, generally when Dragons are given attention. The five mythic Dragons and Tiamat from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms started it, and the more recent combinations of Dragon goodness in Battle for Baldur’s Gate that included Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm has really pushed it up lately. 

However, the price of The Ur-Dragon has really kept people from enjoying the broken mechanic that is Eminence. A mana rock that is always on, can’t be interacted with, and helps you cast your creatures is enormously powerful, especially when those creatures are generally the most powerful things on the board. 

I think we’re going to get a lot of new Ur-Dragon builds, and I’m in favor of this! I have the deck myself and it is a lot of fun to slam huge flying lizards and turn them sideways. Before I start buying cards like crazy, I have to keep in mind that this set is a mix of reprints and new cards, so there’s a strong chance of these specs being in the set. 

Hellkite Courser (FEA) – Available for $40, this is not only an amazing card for Dragon decks, it’s really good with Commanders in general. We’re getting plenty of new commanders in this set, and Courser is one of the only ways to cheat it out. I adore this card in my deck, and especially because it’s only five mana for me! I get card draw, cheating things into play, and smash for ten commander damage! Supply on this is extremely tight, since CML was the set where you were only 30% to get an EA card in that slot. I’m expecting this to be reprinted, because it synergizes with other huge commanders, but if it’s not then the sky is the limit on these.

Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm is at under $2 for the foil-etched version, which looks loads better than the Monster Manual art version. Players don’t seem to like that art style at all, going by the relative prices for such cards.  The only exception is the Beadle and Grimm Secret Lair with Dragons, those are going for good prices due to scarcity. 

Miirym is a terrifying card to see from a Dragon deck, and worthy of being the Commander too. I think that a rising tide lifts all the boats and so we’ll see versions of Miirym break $5.

I think there will be another printing for Path of Ancestry, though the FEA are tempting at under $5. With two tribal precon decks, and some more dragons coming, this is a card that will get more copies. What I want to watch out for is repeated reprints that drive it into the ground, like Fabled Passage. If Path isn’t in this set, I’ll feel good about buying some copies.

Scalelord Reckoner seems like a lock for a new printing, since it’s not available in foil and has a high price which is totally due to only being in one deck ever. Premium treatments here would be great, and if it’s a mythic, then I would give it a good shot to rise from mid-level preorder pricing. Definitely stay away from buying copies till after this set is fully previewed.

Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient is probably not going to get a reprint, but I’m not certain if we ought to target the EA nonfoil or the regular-frame foil. Klauth’s Will is a phenomenal card too, and EA versions are a solid pickup for the flexibility they offer. Your commander doesn’t need to be a Dragon, so if you want a wrath and mass artifact/enchantment removal in RG, here’s your card. 

I’m really hoping we get more foil versions or an EA foil for Rhythm of the Wild, but if that’s not reprinted here, it’ll have to be in a Secret Lair soon.

Sarkhan’s Unsealing seems positioned well to avoid a reprint, naming that planeswalker and fixating on big power. We don’t have anything special for it, just the foils that predate Booster Fun. It’s game-wreckingly powerful in the right deck though. 

Finally, let’s give it up for a 2X2 reprint that is tracking lower and will be in prime position when CMM releases: Urza’s Incubator.

I don’t want to buy it now. It’s only been a couple months and the price hasn’t finished falling. It’s listed in 45k Commander decks online, and that number has been kept down by the card’s very high price until this reprint. We’ve seen it tumble more than $20 from the opening, and I’m expecting to see it in the $15 range, maybe $13, in the next few months.

I’d go after the retro frame foils first, even if they were a little more expensive, because I like that frame more, but either of the special versions is where I’ll want to be.

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.

Pro Tour? In This Economy?

Normally, we have to wait until during the weekend for Pro Tour decks to come out, for us to get access to the top information. Those days are gone, because decklists are due Wednesday night, and Thursday, we get metagame information.

With this information in hand, and the rest of Karsten’s article here, we can look ahead and figure out what to buy if the Pro Tour is back and if Pioneer is really really a thing. 

For the record, I think it is, and not just because of my previous specs.

Decklists will go up Friday afternoon local time, around when Pioneer play starts. Everyone’s list will be published, in order to minimize the advantage bigger testing teams used to get by watching lots of matches, recording data, and feeding it to others on their team. Big, skilled teams still get great practice and advice, but more information is a good thing.

We’re told the top cards across all decks: “The most-played nonland cards across all main decks and sideboards were Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Thoughtseize, Fatal Push, Llanowar Elves, Elvish Mystic, and Bonecrusher Giant.”

I’ve been skeptical about how much higher Fable can go, but it’s already in need of a reprint and it is a Standard-legal rare. One card represents two creatures and a rummage for two cards, which we’ve established is already redonk good. 

Yes, you could have gotten in at extremely low prices early on, and several of our ProTraders did. However, I think that only a reprint can cool this card off. It’s a top spell in Pioneer, very good in Modern, and it has a more than respectable 19,500 decks listed on EDHREC. It might dip down a little as we come up to its rotation out of Standard, but I won’t be shocked to see this rise till its reprint arrives.

Thoughtseize is a different story. It’s got a massive amount of reprints, multiple premium editions, and while it’s a staple in Modern and Pioneer alike, there would have to be a massive surge of interest to crank prices higher. Even if they did go up, Wizards has shows a willingness to reprint this into the ground. I’d stay away here, as well as from Fatal Push, a card with a similar ‘too many cooks’ problem.

The Elf cards are intriguing. One-mana dorks will always have a place in decks looking to get out fast, and there’s some specific targetable versions that I can see going in for. These elves also have the bonus that when you go for these cards, you’re getting a matching playset, not just a singleton. If these decks get a lot of attention and put up some results, watch out for prices to go up.

Llanowar Elves has a sweet Secret Lair version that might be the right nonfoil choice. There’s a ton of copies, it being a recent lair, but my eye is really on the foil Dominaria promo versions. Larger art, simplified frame, very unique while still being a Magic card, and not a huge number of copies out there. Elvish Mystic has some awesome choices for art, but if you’re betting on tournament play you might want to target the Time Spiral Remastered retro non-foils for around $7 each. One vendor has 33 copies as of this writing, but the overall quantity is small, especially if you’re counting by four. 

I’ve extolled Bonecrusher Giant before, and I’ll say it again: a spell this popular probably shouldn’t be this cheap.

We did get extras in one of the CLB precon decks, and that plus inclusion on The List has been enough to keep the price in check. We’ll see if a reprint comes soon, though.

There’s one more set of cards worth calling out: the fastlands. These are new to Pioneer and are among the most popular cards this weekend. Right now, the BR and RG ones are on top but all of them will have their place in the sun. I love picking up your playsets of foil or nonfoil ZNR Expeditions right now, because the while borderless ones are cool, these are cooler.

Supply is also pretty light here, so get in there and get what you can at under $20 before a few playsets sell and you’re looking at $30-$40 a copy. 

The different archetype decks will highlight what certain cards can do, but I want to talk about one more card that perfectly shows both what a card can do and why you want to sell into the spikes: Indomitable Creativity.

The current iterations of this deck use some generated tokens before casting this at x=2, hitting the only two creatures in the deck: Worldspine Wurm and Xenagos, God of Revels, giving them a 30/30 trample crashing in that leaves behind three 5/5 tokens if you kill it without an exile effect. The rest of the deck is a UR control-type list, very reactive and ready to interact with your game plan.

The namesake card hit big, as you can see, but within a couple weeks prices had come back down to pre-spike levels. I think this is an excellent candidate to be in a Secret Lair soon, but we’ve got at least a month left on the current drop and the Pro Tour is this weekend. Hitting your opponent for 30 hasty trample damage is the stuff of Magic players’ dreams, and if the deck performs well, I think you’ll see this card spike hard yet again. 

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.

Presale Movement From Phyrexia: All Will Be One

Today, Phyrexia: All Will Be One becomes legal on TCGPlayer, and I’m expecting quite a frenzy around a few very specific cards. 

This past week, we had that nebulous zone between prerelease and Opening Day, where the only cards that can be sold are the ones individuals opened in the prerelease events. Store-level vendors weren’t allowed to sell yet, everything is pre-ordered and cannot be shipped yet.

As a result, cards have stayed very expensive and some cards have gotten a frenzy of attention. Let’s go over some of the bigger movers, and a pickup or two, as well as where I’m expecting them to go from here.

A generalized caveat: I always tell people to sell/trade everything they open at the prerelease level. There is a lot of money to be made doing that, and almost everything is going to lose a lot of value. We don’t have to go very far for examples of this, but let’s take a card with a lot of hype:

Ajani, Sleeper Agent in regular nonfoil has dropped by more than half even after we started tracking in September, but some of the pre-order prices in August were north of $30! So get rid of things while you can.

Now, as for the new set, let’s take a peek at what’s gone up this week as hype cycles have happened.

Mercurial Spelldancer has gotten Legacy attention as a great way to get ridiculous value over and over again. It’s already decent as a two-mana, two-power unblockable creature, but in a format overloaded with cheap noncreature spells (and this includes Modern) it’s just about casting Ponder and Bolt, it’s about using Mishra’s Bauble and other such broken cards to set up a copied huge spell, and I’m here for that. 

This card went from about $3 to $11+, and as a rare, it’s about to have a lot of copies opened. If you get $7 this weekend I’ll be impressed, but I’m willing to bet that this is back under $4 within two weeks. Sell like mad!

Vraska, Betrayal’s Sting was under $10 at one point recently but is now going for $25 because it’s an instant-win with Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. If Vorinclex is on your field, and you play Vraska, she comes in with twelve counters and can instantly ultimate. If a player has anything less than nine poison, they are going to be poisoned out. Eight counters means they get one more, which Vorinclex doubles to two, giving them ten and that’s GG.

Two-card combos are usually not a problem in Commander, or even Modern. Splinter Twin remains illegal in Modern, mainly because both Pestermite and Exarch flash in and tap the land you could use for interaction.The Copy Cat combo is legal in Modern, and that’s three mana into four. This is five mana into six, and the five mana part can be attacked to death before the combo happens. 

Vraska is a mythic, but there’s still going to be a lot opened and her price will tumble back to $15, and eventually be under $10 again.

Venerated Rotpriest is clearly a combo card, and one that works with a lot of different cards to combo an opponent out. Ground Rift is a current favorite, as the Storm mechanic lets you build up a critical mass very quickly. There won’t be a shortage of busted things to do here, especially when Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief is a card too. 

I expect this to keep riding a rollercoaster. It’s already been up to $20, down to $12, and is now $15. It’ll drop down to $5 or so, but the good news for this card’s value is that people who play it want four copies. Every new combo with the card will result in it popping up, then retracing downward. Be prepared to sell into spikes.

The Mycosynth Gardens has gotten a lot of attention for being an easy way to copy Lion’s Eye Diamond, for decks able to take advantage of that. If you can recur the land, it keeps working, because it’s zero to activate the ability and the LED can still be used even if it’s tapped.

While a neat interaction, it’s remarkably narrow. LED is restricted in paper Vintage, though it is Legacy and Commander legal. Given how many decks are running Urza’s Saga in Modern, I won’t be shocked if this sees a little play there too, just to get more and more value from lands. Unfortunately, these corner cases are not enough to prop up the price, which started at $15, fell to $6, and is now about $10. A very steep decline is coming for this card, and you should prepared accordingly.

One precognitive note, though: When this gets cheap (I mean like a buck in six months) I’m going to pick up a brick of these. The Dark Depths/Thespian’s Stage combo is an example of how open-ended synergies can work out, and some artifact that comes into play with counters and needs those counters removed…combo kill! Can’t wait to see what it does. It’s already very good in Commander if you run Mana Crypt and Sol Ring. Please note that it stops being a land when you activate it, unless you copy an artifact land.

Jace, the Perfected Mind is my pick for a card that has the best chance to go up right away. Control decks crave exactly this interaction, an early way to nullify one of their creatures and force the opponent to build up a wider board, setting up for the Supreme Verdict next turn. 

JaceTPM has trickled downward from $15 to $8, and if enough control decks adopt him for the midgame, he’s got a good chance to rise up. I don’t think he’ll be the next Ledger Shredder or anything, but this is a very very good blue Planeswalker in control shells.

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.