Category Archives: Casual Fridays

Humans, Humans, Everywhere!

There’s a lot going on in the Lord of the Rings set. In the early previews, we’ve gotten a pretty fantastic build-around Commander, who does something unique in a prevalent tribe and in some new colors:

Éowyn, Shieldmaiden, is not a defensive Commander, despite her name. She wants a legion of Humans coming into play, attacking for a bunch, and drawing you cards. This looks to be a fun build, focusing on a tribe that doesn’t have a strong, thematic, multicolor Commander. There’s a couple members of the Kudro family, and several versions of Sigarda who want you to play Humans, but Éowyn tells you exactly what to do, preferably the turn she comes into play so you can get some bonuses immediately.

This is probably going to cause some spikes going forward, and let’s make a preliminary list and see what we can do right away.

I’m not going to lie: There’s a boatload and a half of choice for a Humans deck. Scryfall says there’s 2,037 humans in these colors, and while I think my choices are defensible, more will pop. That’s just the nature of things. Secondly, with Commander Masters coming, plus Secret Lairs, etc., reprints are going to hit some of these cards. It’s pretty certain that at least one of these will be reprinted soon, actually more than one because my first mention is a confirmed reprint for later this year.

Rick, Steadfast Leader ($50 or so) – I have said on podcasts and articles what a terrible idea it is for new cards to only be available in special forms like this. The Walking Dead Secret Lair was the first example of this, and they’ve gone back to this well, promising to use The List to put more copies out there. It’s been done for Stranger Things, it’s due for Street Fighter and the recent D&D set as well.

Rick will get reprinted in The List for Wilds of Eldraine, along with Negan and the whole crew. Rick is clearly the best of the bunch, giving two good abilities and a huge stat boost for only four mana. Being at $50 right now, this is a card you really want to have in any Human-based deck, and the good news is that The List copies, while only being available in nonfoil, promise to be a lot cheaper.

The originals, only available in foil, have a chance to appreciate from here and I think you can at least be able to move any copies you have from $50 to $75. It moves a couple copies a day, and offers a chance at some profit. At the least, get your personal copy now if you want a shiny version.

Esper Sentinel ($30 for the cheapest version, up to about $46 for the most expensive) – A very strong contender for a reprint in CMM in August, this does everything you want in a Humans deck. It draws you cards when your opponents do things they are guaranteed to do, and also offers you a chance to play a one-drop Human for Éowyn, play her, and profit.

Esper Sentinel has reached mega-staple status on EDHREC, being in 256,000 listed decks, and so the reprint is coming. Until it does, Éowyn is going to be part of why this card keeps rising higher and higher.

Hanweir Garrison ($5-$8) and Hanweir Battlements ($4-$9) – These are two cards that haven’t really had a deck that allows them to sing, but are perfect for Éowyn. We want haste, we want lots and lots of Humans, and everyone loves Melding cards for giant cards. 

The only thing that doesn’t work is that the Garrison’s attack trigger happens a little too late for Éowyn’s trigger, which is at the beginning of combat. Garrison is one of the fastest ways to get to six Humans, though, so when this starts climbing, be ready to cash in.

Grand Abolisher ($27 to $121) – Another card that’s begging for a reprint, the only foils of this from M12 are more than a hundred bucks. As useful Humans go, this one is worth the price of admission.

Having this in play gives you such a feeling of security, that nothing can go wrong. This ought to be in more decks, but it’s so noninteractive that I think Wizards has been hesitant to reprint it. I’m constantly surprised that it’s not played in Modern more. If it dodges a reprint in CMM this summer, we’ll see this grow as folks want the warm safety blanket.

Sakashima of a Thousand Faces ($27-$40), Sakashima the Impostor ($3 to $143) and Sakashima’s Student ($14, no foils) – It’s easy to forget that these aren’t just Clone effects, they are Humans and will work with lots of effects. You might not want them to come in as copies of your Humans, but you might also want them to copy your Commander, which two of them can do. 

Again, I’m expecting at least one of these to catch a reprint in Commander Masters, so speculate carefully, but these cards are also under pressure from clone themes and ninja decks, so this isn’t just a spec based on Éowyn.

Hero of Precinct One (all under $1) – Now let’s get to the cards that synergize best with Éowyn’s text box. In this instance, if you have the Hero, and cast Éowyn, you’ll get the trigger, create a token, and then Éowyn will see that you had a Human come into play and all of her fun happens. If you have even one other Human, you’ll immediately get a card.

This was from Ravnica Allegiance, so there’s no special versions, only regular and foil. This is a pretty cheap card to get a premium treatment now, but we’ll see about the reprints we get going forward. For now, buy a brick now and buylist them out for $2 each.

Outlaws’ Merriment (50¢ to $8) – There have been a lot of ways to potentially use this random effect, especially given the ‘party’ mechanic, but no matter which token you get, it’s good with Éowyn. It’s a damn shame that Assemble the Legion is Soldier tokens, but you get what you get. For the Merriment, I think I’d prefer to be stocked up on the super-cheap copies, though the FEA versions are also at their lowest:

As a mythic from the first FEA set, there aren’t a lot of these on TCG right now and if you’re going to go build Éowyn’s deck, this is an excellent place to start. The low number of copies is appealing on the FEA, but there’s definite brick potential in buying a whole lot under a dollar and buylisting them for double to triple that.

Thraben Doomsayer (25¢ to $3) – Foils at $3 would be the play here, as they are from 2012 and there are relatively few in circulation. Nonfoils were in Commander 2020 decks, and there’s a very large number of those around. Again, this as a play before Éowyn means you get all of Éowyn’s goodness on the turn she comes down, and I hope you’re never in a Fateful Hour situation.

Gallows at Willow Hill (25¢ to 75¢) – Finally, a pet card of mine when I had a Humans token deck a while ago. You will be amazed at the number of times you can activate this card with token makers like Call the Coppercoats, Increasing Devotion, Reverent Hoplite, etc. Reusable ways to destroy creatures is a great way to make up for how undersized your Humans are, and if there’s no good attacks, you can just solve target problem. I don’t think this will bite hard price-wise, but it’s an example of the random Humans and Human accessories we’re about to see spike.

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.

Dominaria United, Ready For Review

I’ve written before about how my new rule is to wait around six months for a set to be out, in order for supply to hit maximum before I move in on cards. We’ve got some new factors to consider with this policy, but Dominaria United has reached this point, and it’s time for us to dig in and see what’s worth buying for long-term gains.

The big caveat here is the new three-year Standard. I am certain that there will be some form of Standard reprint set, but I’m not sure what form it will take. There’s four major options, based on previous products, or they could get us with something new:

  1. Multiverse Legends-style bonus sheet in a regular set
  2. Aftermath-style small packs
  3. Challenger decks with some number of reprints
  4. Secret Lair versions of popular Standard cards

Personally, I think Challenger decks are the most likely, but we’ll see.

Card discussions today are going to focus on the idea that these cards won’t rotate until the Fall set of 2025. They will have a long time to mature, and we’ll just have to see about bans and reprints.

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse (cheapest version is about $65, most expensive $110) – There’s a banned announcement coming on Monday, and frankly, I’m worried Sheoldred will be on that list. If you were paying attention in our ProTrader Discord, James identified this card way early as a grower, and he’s been nothing but right. 

In a world with no bannings, no reprints, this would be crazy expensive in the next 18 months. Unfortunately, I have to imagine one of those things will happen to the card. Wait until the hammer drops, one way or the other, and be prepared to pick up potentially very profitable copies when they bottom out again.

Liliana of the Veil ($16 to $23 for DMU versions) – The main thing holding this card back is the presence of not just the original Innistrad copies, but Modern Masters 2017 and Ultimate Masters as well. 

As we have seen, you can only reprint a card so many times before it doesn’t recover. There is a world in which LotV reasserts her place at the top of Modern and Pioneer, but the relatively low inclusion rate in Commander (15,000 decks on EDHREC) means that when she’s not good in the Eternal formats, her price is going to wither.

With originals at about $30 and a range of copies available between $16 and $25, I just can’t recommend picking this up as a spec…yet. If the DMU copies manage to sink below $10, I’ll think about this again because while I have a hard time seeing the world in which $20 copies become $40, I think it’s very reasonable to have sub-$10 copies climb to $20 or $25 before she’s printed again.

Shivan Devastator ($5 to $25) – I’ve never hidden my love for Dragons, and with The Ur-Dragon returning this summer in Commander Masters, every Dragon is on the radar. This Dragon Hydra is a simple, flexible card that is only in 10,000 decks online, but I suspect that more casual players opened this and popped it into any Red deck they wanted. Of note, I think the Game Day versions, which are full art, foil, and a mostly-not-there frame, are probably where I’d want to be, given that there’s less than 30 vendors with NM copies on TCGplayer and the biggest wall is five copies.

Jodah, the Unifier ($4 to $10) – Jodah is one of the top commanders since being printed, and it’s not hard to see why. Commanders that give value are usually popular, and this one offers a flexible, five color theme of ‘what are the best legends in Magic?’ The commander is usually not the most expensive part of the deck, unless you’re The Ur-Dragon and you haven’t gotten new copies in several years. In this case, though, with the theme being legends and legendary accessories, I’d be a believer in some of these textured foils around $10. Textured foils were slightly harder to pull than Showcase versions, and we always want the fanciest version for our Commander. 

Plaza of Heroes ($7.50 to $11) – Jodah’s favorite land, this price is mostly due to Commander demand, though there is a neat Esper Legends deck running around that makes good use of this card. Note that it’ll cast any legendary spell, a designation that includes Planeswalkers and other legendary fun, including legendary sorceries.

Unsurprisingly, this is the top card from the set in EDHREC, but it’s not that far ahead of #2, Braids, Arisen Nightmare. I really like FEA copies around $11 to start making some serious gains soon. As an added bonus, because it’s so easy to put in just about every Commander deck, when the inevitable reprint comes, this ought to recover fairly quickly.

Timeless Lotus ($17 to $22) – We don’t get mana rocks that tap for the same amount of mana as it took to cast them. Getting more than you paid means a drawback, with the exceptions of Power cards and Sol Ring. Basalt Monolith is the only other artifact that gives as much as it required, and it needs mana to untap. If you haven’t played with Timeless Lotus, you might not be aware of how amazingly efficient it is, but rest assured, this is a good card even without shenanigans involved.  Please be aware that the only thing holding it back in Commander is that this must go into a five-color deck. unlike cards templated in the style of Cascading Cataracts.

Despite its restrictions, copies under $15 are gone, and there’s not much left under $20. Note that this had no fancy version, only foil and nonfoil; we all expected a schematic version in BRO’s subset but it didn’t appear there either. There will be some Secret Lair with a Lotus theme, and I will likely buy a lot of that.

Rivaz of the Claw (a quarter to $1.50) – Dragons on the horizon means that this incredibly powerful mana dork might have a chance to shine. It’s pretty impressive that you can get both two mana and the reanimation going on at the same time, making sure that this is never a dead draw. The EDHREC numbers are terrible, though, and the price is in the gutter, nearly a bulk rare. The play here is to pick up a brick of very cheap copies, and hope to buylist them all at the same time when this spikes to $3 in the midst of Ur-Dragon hype. However, if casual players aren’t using it now, they might not ever. Staying away is probably safest.

Cut Down ($0.50 to $3) – Given that there’s two years and change for this in Standard, I strongly advocate you picking up your playset now for personal use before these hit $1 or $2 per copy. It’s brutally efficient, instant-speed, and even has a sweet promo version to go after.

Leyline Binding ($10 to $17) – Finally, a card that’s helped give Triomes one more reason to shine in Modern and Pioneer. In Modern, a judicious fetchland for the correct Triome, plus the right shockland, means this is one mana starting as early as turn 2. Pioneer isn’t quite as capable or as fast, but even without fetches it’s still a very popular card among Domain or Zoo archetypes. This is rarely played at less than three copies, which also helps the price. This is the most expensive rare from the set, and I think it’ll be at least $15 before Christmas.

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.

I Can See Your Halo (Foil)

It’s been out for a week, and this just in: Halo foils from MOM: Aftermath are good and rare and you should consider buying some before they get more expensive. These cards, in addition to being at least decent in Commander, are also Standard legal for the next two and a half years. If you’re thinking about Standard (or Modern/Pioneer) legality, you may want to consider some nonfoils instead, but Halo foils are my focus today.

I’ve got some examples of cards that have already skyrocketed, and some which are strong candidates to do the same. Let’s start off with a little math first: Halo foils are only in Collector Boosters and as I detailed two weeks ago, there’s specific odds for cards based on their rarity. Uncommons have a slot, but a particular Halo foil is 1 in 90 boosters. Rares are 180 packs to nab a specific card, and Mythics are twice as rare, needing 360 Collector Booster packs to get just one Halo Foil Sarkhan, Soul Aflame.

Also note that the planar frames get the Halo Foil treatment, but retro frame cards do not. Specifically, we need to keep this in mind for Karn, Legacy Reforged and Nissa, Resurgent Animist. Their rarest versions are the traditional foil retro frame, or the extended art foil, there’s no Halo to chase. 

So let’s get into an example, and some cards to watch.

Sarkhan, Soul Aflame was preselling under $20, and I knew I needed one. I thought I would wait, and get one cheaper. A week later, I’ve purchased a copy from a Protrader and paid a lot more:

TCG’s own graphs can’t keep up with a price tripling in a week. Right now, there’s nothing listed under $65 for this card, and if you bought your one copy early, I cannot recommend selling in hopes of buying back in. There doesn’t appear to be any huge inventory on the way, for all that vendors report sluggish sales there aren’t enough copies coming on the market and I don’t think you’ll have a chance to buy back in under $50.

Let’s keep in mind too that Halo foils appear instead of a traditional foil in 1 out of 6 packs. So the regular foil should be five times cheaper. If that ratio is off, we know that the casual fans, the Commander fans, the people like me who love shiny things, especially swirling and rare shiny things, we’re buying up these premium copies at a faster rate and driving the price up.

Other Halo Foils to watch:

Kiora, Sovereign of the Deep ($40) – I maintain that this is an amazing commander for the KLOS tribe, but as yet, she’s overshadowed. Even with this as a less popular card, and not being built on EDHREC, the NM Halo foils are almost exactly 5x the traditional planar foil price, meaning that there’s enough people out there, and the supply so small, that copies haven’t gotten surprisingly cheap.

We’ll see if there’s a rise in other KLOS cards to go along with her price over time.

Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin ($45) – Another card out of line with regular pricing, the traditional planar frame foil is $18, which is about a third the Halo price. So either the cheaper ones are overpriced, or the Halo is underpriced. I think it’s the latter, and not just because this is ‘I win’ with All Will Be One. 

This version of Ob Nixilis has a lot of cool interactions, and I’m looking forward to seeing what sorts of wild things happen with a deck built around those interactions. Yes, he’s competing with Prosper, Tome-Bound, one of the most popular commanders of all time, but Prosper is a value engine. Ob Nixilis wants to do a lot of little things quickly.

Training Grounds ($24) – This was an odd inclusion in the set, but as a rare in this under-opened set, it’s managed to have Halo foil versions available for roughly $4 more than original Rise of the Eldrazi nonfoils, and just over half the price of the Judge foils! This is undervalued, and those of you who get copies cheap can thank me later. It’s only in 28k decks in EDHREC’s database, but I suspect that’s due to low supply for so long. 

Arni Metalbrow ($6) – What I love about this card is that it works with tokens. There’s no shortage of abilities that create token copies of a creature, often ones that get exiled at the end of turn. For just two more mana, though, you get to put something into play that’s tapped, attacking, and stays in play!

Again, the interactions are in your favor, as is the open-ended nature of the card. Everything that makes a token copy is a wonderful addition with Arni around.

Nahiri’s Resolve ($8) – We like flickering! Teleportation Circle has made it to $7 as one of the most popular cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Resolve is two colors, which is clearly a drawback in Commander, but still it’s something you can work with. We want our haste enablers to be cheaper, allowing for ‘play giant baddie and attack right away’ themes, but the sneaky thing here is that you can use tap abilities twice with this enchantment. Here’s a freebie for you: combine with Furystoke Giant and have a good time.

Spark Rupture ($5) – Not as good as Elderspell, for the most part, but a powerful answer to a problematic card type. Planeswalkers are inherently value engines, designed to be valuable and worth protecting. This is an enchantment, which is hard to deal with but not impossible. Remember that you can’t use a planeswalker’s ability to deal with this enchantment, but most superfriends decks will have tools for this and The Immortal Sun types of cards. 

Jirina, Dauntless General ($8) – Humans are a powerful tribe, and for two mana, you get a graveyard nuke and an insurance policy. I flagged this one because the traditional foil is $2 and this Halo is $8, meaning that the Halo is a bit too cheap. Rectify that error and have copies in stock for when this goes up.

Coppercoat Vanguard ($6) – Cool art and a Human lord-style effect, I would be on board if you wanted to stock up on nonfoils as an attempt to load up on tournament-viable cards. The really good news is that while Human tribal decks want one for Commander and will make it Halo, the tournament players will want four matching nonfoils of this sweet frame-breaking art. Purchase accordingly. 

Markov Baron ($5) – Vampire lords are cards worth having for when the tribe gets attention again, and if you think we’re going to get an Edgar Markov reprint soon, this is a wonderful card to stock up on. Lords are good, cheap lords are better, and this one looks pretty cool to boot. I will not be surprised when this ends up a $10 card in a year.

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.

No rotation, but now a bonus period for Standard!

Last week, Wizards dropped a huge piece of news during the Pro Tour. They have decided to make Standard last three years instead of two. This is in direct contrast to what they did the last time they meddled with Standard, as detailed in their 2014 article Metamorphosis. Back then, the idea was to make Standard just 18 months, and in addition, Standard would rotate with every new set.

That idea didn’t last too long. Player outcry over the whole thing led to changing that plan. They’ve left it alone until now, and three years means that things which were due to rotate are now being given an extra year.

So let’s look at some of the big winners, and where the prices might end up going.

Before I get into this list, James and I talked on MTG Fast Finance about the very real possibility of there being a new round of Challenger decks, stuffed full of reprints and value. Three years is a long time, and having access to a potential reprint outlet like this is useful. We could also get Aftermath-style mini-sets, or more bonus sheets. Something is going to happen to allow Wizards to make money on this decision, and for all of these, there’s an implied risk of reprints.

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker ($28 for the cheapest copies, $51 for the priciest ones) – Fable was all over the place in the PT, and it’s all over the Constructed scene. It was very cheap at first and is now impressively expensive for a rare that now has 16 months to get even more expensive. It’s a staple in several formats, casual and Professional alike, and the only thing stopping me from running out and buying every copy I can under $30 is the nagging fear of banning.

Fable isn’t overpowered for any one strategy, but it’s effective in almost all of them. Reanimator, control, midrange, even some aggro decks play a couple of copies. It’s glue that holds lots and lots of strategies together, and adds amazing consistency to the whole range. I can’t bet against its banning, given how it was a four-of for five of the top 8 decks at the Pro Tour. 

If you’re comfortable with the risk, Fable is going to go up over the next year unless more copies enter the market.

Reckoner Bankbuster ($4 to $9) – Fable is good, but an enormous number of decks want to run a Bankbuster too, mainly as a way to turn excess mana into extra cards. Bankbuster is worth it in a range of strategies and being an artifact, can go into any deck regardless of color. I’m not expecting huge gains here, but it’s in a whole lot of decks, is good early and late, and should be pushing $10 if not reprinted and the usage stays high.

Invoke Despair ($0.50 to $3) – The Invoke spells, with four colored mana pips, are meant to be a heavy tax, and they truly are. Unless, of course, you’re in an environment with cycling tri-lands, painlands, and slow-lands, plus Fable of the Mirror-Breaker to smooth out the rough edges…then it’s a lot easier to cast this spell.

Despair looked amazing on camera at the Pro Tour, and is one of the wonderful ways to even out a board where your opponent landed a Wedding Invitation, The Wandering Emperor, a Samurai token, and a Bankbuster. Alongside targeted removal, this does impressive work and if you can get a big brick of the promo versions for under a buck, I think you’ll have a chance to sell them to a buylist for $2 or $3 per copy. The regular copies are at $1.50, and I think there’s potential there too, but for a card like this, I’d much prefer a cheaper buy-in.

Unlicensed Hearse ($10 to $15) – This sees play in lots of formats, and is a great counter to assorted reanimation strategies while building up a late-game threat. Everything to love here, but the price might already be too high to allow big growth. 

Cut Down ($0.50 to $1.00) – On TCGPlayer, there’s several big walls of this near fifty cents, and given the efficient nature of the spell, and the super-wide range of things it kills, I can see this being another good buylist target. Keep in mind that there’s a promo version floating around for $1.50 or more for nonfoils, and that’s got the potential to stop the growth.

Takenuma, Abandoned Mire ($6 to $20) – Takenuma was less than half this price at one point, and with another year of growth to come, it’s got potential to hit $10 or $12. It’s rarely played as more than a one-of, but it’s a free way for black decks to add value to the lands. Commander decks do much the same thing, and the drain of 100-card formats is probably going to contribute to its growth.

Innistrad and New Capenna lands (wide range) – Both the tri-lands and the slowlands were due to rotate this fall. These are efficient, effective, and perfect for what they do. These lands are the harbinger for telling us if Standard is really back for paper play. These were due to rotate in the fall, and now are good till late 2024. That’s a long time for people to buy playsets of Haunted Ridge or Ziatora’s Proving Ground, or some other color combination. Mana is about to be very good for Standard, and these lands should all show a minor-to-major bump.

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse ($70 to $130) – Let’s end this list with two cards that are going to rotate in late 2025. This version of Sheoldred is enormously popular, as it takes a thing we all love doing, a thing that we’ve been trained to recognize as pretty much the best thing we could be doing, and making it into a liability for our opponents. That’s a pretty amazing thing to accomplish, and for only four mana!

Dominaria United came out in September of 2022, and in that time, this card has rocketed up and shows little sign of slowing down. Standard plus Commander demand is a great formula, and even the extra copies of concept art didn’t make a dent in prices. 

It’s been a long time since we had a $100 card in Standard, but it looks like we’re about to get there, considering that there’s still two whole years before rotation! Sheoldred needs a reprint, else it’ll be the poster child for a problematic Standard.

Chandra, Hope’s Beacon ($7 to $14) – Normally, I’m an advocate for waiting longer on cards before buying in, but this newest Chandra is already available pretty cheap for a mythic. It’s possible that the price dips down a buck or two in the next few months, but any Standard format where this card can kill two big threats and then next turn copy an Invoke Despair is going to make me take notice.

It’s hard for this card to be bad, and very very easy for it to be outstanding. Every instant or sorcery they print makes this card that much better, and it’s another card that has more than two years till it’s banned! Definitely one to watch and likely one to buy.

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.