Category Archives: Casual Fridays

The Mana Math of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan

Once more, dear friends, we head into the Collecting articles and try to turn a bunch of percentages into numbers that make sense. Wizards is boh obligated to be clear, due to the gambling laws in different areas, but has a vested interest in obfuscating the sheer number of packs it’ll take to get these rare cards.

With a little division and a reciprocal, we can take their percentages for a category and turn that into a clear number of needed packs to get the cards we want. Statistics aren’t guarantees, so keep that in mind when you’re using this guide.

Let’s get to the numbers.

There are THREE subsets of cards in this set. Three! We’ve got the REX set, which is all new cards using Jurassic World as inspiration, a mini-Universes Beyond. We’ve got the Special Guests, who can show up in any booster, and then we’re given Box Toppers.

The Box Toppers are pretty special this time around. Draft and Set Booster boxes get a nonfoil single-card pack, and Collector Boosters get a foil. There are 20 Toppers, referred to as the Treasure Trove and have the same LCC code as the Lost Caverns Commander set. Your odds are not 1/20, though, because there’s three rarities. One card, Chimil, the Inner Sun, is a new LCI card and the rest are reprints.

Let’s have a table, one that lists the rarity of each of your options, and your odds. Remember that you get one card PER BOX, so the numbers here are going to look different compared to the number of packs needed later in this article.

Type/Rarity (# of options)Percent chance for any card of that categoryPercent chance for a specific card of that category# of CB BOXES to open one specific card from that category
Uncommon (8):Arcane SignetColossus HammerEverflowing ChaliceExpedition MapLightning GreavesThought VesselWhispersilk CloakWorn Powerstone62%7.75%12.9 Boxes
Rare (7):Archaeomancer’s MapAmulet of VigorCoat of ArmsFist of SunsMimic VatStrionic ResonatorTemple Bell28%4%25 Boxes
Mythic Rare (5):Wedding RingChalice of the VoidChimil, the Inner SunChromatic OrreryCoercive Portal10%2%50 Boxes

I note that mythics are twice as hard to get as rares, which are twice as hard to get as uncommons. I like when there’s a clear progression, but it doesn’t always track this way. Just appeals to the symmetrist buried deep in my skull. Fifty boxes is 600 packs, and that’s second on today’s list of ‘how damn rare are these rares?!’

In each Collector Booster, there are slots for subsets of cards. We’re going to start around the middle, with the foil Uncommons and their Special Guests, and then jump two slots to the Commander cards, going upwards on this graphic:

Pitiless Plunderer is the main uncommon I care about, but others may have some impact as well. So I’ve arranged a table for these uncommons, and sure enough, the Special Guests are a tough card to open, even at uncommon:

Type/Rarity (# of options)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
Uncommon Borderless Foil Special Guest (5)3%0.6%166.67
Uncommon Borderless Foil Dinosaur (6)41%6.83%14.6
Uncommon Showcase Foil Lost Caverns of Ixalan (8)55%6.88%14.5

Next, let’s look at the Commander cards, which covers some of the legends and new cards.  We get a slot of alternate frames, with both foils and nonfoils present in the same slot.

Note that the article doesn’t give separate stats for rares and mythics, so I’m forced to presume that they fall at equal rates. This sort of makes sense: rarity in the Commander lists is sort of irrelevant, and this includes what used to be the Jumpstart cards.  If we get data or an update that indicates otherwise, I’ll come back and edit this section with the new numbers.

Type/Rarity (# of options)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 Alternate Frame Commander Rare (6)87.5%4.375%22.85
Nonfoil Alternate Frame Commander Mythic Rare (14)87.5%4.375%22.85
Foil Alternate Frame Commander Rare (6)12.5%0.625%160
Foil Alternate Frame Commander Mythic Rare (14)12.5%0.625%160

Next up, a nonfoil Showcase or Borderless card, either rare or mythic. 

Type/Rarity (# of options)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 Showcase Rare (8)22.5%2.81%35.5
Nonfoil Showcase Mythic Rare (11)14.8%1.34%74.32
Nonfoil Borderless Rare (18)50.7%2.81%35.5
Nonfoil Borderless Mythic Rare (14)10.56%0.75%132.57
Nonfoil Borderless Quintorius Kand (1)0.7%0.7%142.8
Nonfoil Showcase Quintorius Kand (1)0.7%0.7%142.8

After that, a Jurassic World slot! Nonfoil, traditional foil, and Emblem variants all appear here at different rates, ranging from ‘pretty common’ to ‘holy guacamole that is mega rare!’

Type/Rarity (# of options)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 Borderless Nonlands (20)36.3%1.8%55.1
Nonfoil Borderless Lands (6)43.6%7.26%13.7
Traditional Foil Borderless Nonlands (20)8.9%0.445%224.72
Traditional Foil Borderless Lands (6)10.7%1.78%56.07
Traditional Foil Emblem Variant (19)0.5%0.02%3800

I’ve been tracking rarities for years, and 3800 is among the hardest pulls without getting into serialized cards. It’s analogous to the original Realms and Relics Surge foils, and slightly MORE rare than Human Sol Rings (xxx/900) were in the summer LOTR release.

Finally, a slot for Booster Fun variants:

Type/Rarity (# of options)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
Traditional Foil Extended Art Rare (38)46.7%1.23%81.37
Traditional Foil Extended Art Mythic Rare (2)1.2%0.6%166.67
Traditional Foil Showcase Rare (8)9.8%1.22%81.6
Traditional Foil Showcase Mythic Rare (12)6.7%.56%179.1
Traditional Foil Borderless Rare (18)22%1.22%81.81
Traditional Foil Borderless Mythic Rare (8)4.9%0.61%163.27
Traditional Foil Borderless Special Guest Rare or Mythic Rare (13)8%0.61%162.5
Neon Ink Mana Crypt or Cavern of Souls (11)Less than 1% (.7% if these numbers are correct)0.7%At least every 142 packs for any non-yellow version of either

The different variants of Neon Ink aren’t listed as how common they are in relation to each other. All we’re told is “Here are the colors as they appear in order from rarest to least rare: three-color, red, purple, blue, green, and yellow.” Yellow is the LGS’s version to give away, and should be the cheapest version by far. I would love to give you more specifics but they haven’t told us yet. Still, at under 1%, you’re looking at ANY Neon Ink about every 142 packs. (for specifically Mana Crypt or Cavern, it would be double that, 284)

One thing that jumps out at me is how close this distribution is to the model we used to get, that rares are always twice as common as mythics. They don’t have it in a straightforward model, at least not quite yet, but for this set, the math holds. 

The second thing I notice is that the foil REX cards are hard to pull at around 224 CB packs for a specific copy, but the Emblem foils are roughly as rare as the 900 serialized Human Sol Rings. These will end up super expensive. If you find some for preorder, I’d imagine a lot of the orders will get canceled.

Finally, let’s get a table in with some specific cards, and I’m skipping the Neon Ink variants because I’m not sure what the precise numbers are.

Card/treatment/setApprox. number of CBs needed to find one copy
Emblem Foil Indomitus Rex, Alpha (REX)3800
Borderless Foil Special Guest Pitiless Plunderer (SPG)166.67
Borderless Foil Special Guest Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist (SPG)162.5
Traditional Foil Showcase Ojer Taq, Deepest Fountation (LCI)179.1
Borderless Foil Permission Denied (REX)224.72
Traditional Foil Showcase Hakbal of the Surging Soul (LCC)160
Treasure Trove Foil Chromatic Orrey (LCC)600
Treasure Trove Foil Strionic Resonator (LCC)300
Treasure Trove Foil Worn Powerstone (LCC)156

I hope these tables and figures make sense to you, and if they don’t, I strongly encourage you to reach out on the ProTrader Discord, hit me up on Twitter, or leave some comments. I’m happy to explain my methods. Good luck and open well!

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.

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.