Category Archives: James Chillcott

MTGFinance: What We’re Buying/Selling This Week (May 9/15)

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

One of the most common misconceptions about folks involved in MTGFinance is that we are constantly manipulating the market and feeding players misinformation to help fuel achievement of our personal goals.

It has occurred to us at MTGPrice that though we dole out a good deal of advice, most of you ultimately have very little insight into when our writing team actually puts our money where our collective mouths are pointing. As such we’ve decided to run a weekly series breaking down what we’ve been buying and selling each week and why. These lists are meant to be both complete and transparent, leaving off only cards we bought without hope of profit, where appropriate. We’ll also try to provide some insight into our thinking behind the specs, and whether we are aiming for a short (<1 month), mid (1-12 month), or long (1 year+) term flip. Here’s what we were up to this week:

Buying Period: May 3 – May 9th, 2015

Note: All cards NM unless otherwise noted. All sell prices are net of fees unless noted.

James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)


  • 1x Myth Realized (foil) @ $7.00
  • 1x Griselbrand @ $13.50
  • 1x Whisperwood Elemental @ $8.50
  • 1x Temple Garden @ $8.25
  • 1x Mana Confluence @ $7.50
  • 1x Scavenging Ooze (Russian promo foil) @ $11
  • 2x Pharika, God of Afflication @ $3.25/per
  • 2x Siege Rhino (foil) @ $16
  • Mutavault (Japanese) @ $10
  • 1x boxes of Modern Masters 2015 @ $230


  • 6x Modern Masters 2015 @ $255 USD ($210 cost)

SOLD (Pucatrade)

  • 1x Grafdigger’s Cage (foil) @ $19.00 (pack opened)
  • 1x Tarmogoyf @ $195.00 ($135 cost)
  • 1x Wilt Leaf Liege @ $29.42 (pack opened)
  • 1x Sensei’s Divining Top @ $32.41 (pack opened)
  • 1x Horizon Canopy @ $34.65 ($18 cost)
  • 5x Steam Vents @ $13.20 ($8.25 cost)

My total haul of MM2 boxes now stands at 20+. The revelation of the full set list through plenty of folks for a loop, as the final rares list was significantly less exciting than many had hoped for. Running the Estimated Value (EV) calculation on the set however has revealed that much of the value has simply been shifted to the mythics and the current EV per pack is very close to the MSRP of $9.99. This means that opening a box at MSRP is roughly equivalent to the math on opening a box of MM1 in the summer of 2013, which featured a similar EV. Each pack you open will feature higher variance, but the more packs you open the more likely you are to even out your opens. As such, I’m expecting the EV to fall off in the weeks following the triple Grand Prix into the $7-8 range as people sell off their opens. If the set is constricted on supply and/or considered too risky by players to open frequently, I would expect the box trajectory to follow a similar path to MM1, with less total upside. My current target is $325 on boxes by December 2015. Even if dealers end up having more supply than my sources have told me they will, a neutral EV out of the gate is unlikely to motivate them to open enough boxes to further tank the singles market on the mythics. We now need to see how the draft format is received, because a great format will drive sales and pack openings, and push EV further down the curve, whereas a bad draft format could keep the price of key cards relatively stable.  More on this as the issues play out.

Most of my singles purchases this week were simply opportunistic grabs at prices below retail, or cards I expect to continue rising heading into fall.

Pucatrade was a huge help this week, allowing me to out MM2 reprints like Leyline of Sanctity, Wilt Leaf Liege and Tarmogoyf at full value. I now have about $700 worth of Pucapoints, accumulated since the end of March, and my goal is to trade into a mox on that platform before the end of summer.

Guo Heng Chin


  • Thunderbreak Regent (out) for one Dragonlord Dromoka (in).

Jared Yost

  • 4x Willow Satyr @ $13.96
  • 4x Gravity Sphere @ $11.76 + $1 shipping
Jarod says:
“I’ve picked up these Reserve List cards due to some analysis I did on Legends and potentially undervalued cards on the Reserve List.”

Note: The rest of the guys were quiet this week.

Bonus Tips:

  • Putting some money aside for the two weeks after the triple MM2 GPs across the globe is a solid notion indeed. Tens of thousands of packs will be opened at those tournaments and many of those players will be looking to sell of sweet opens that they don’t need for their own decks to recoup some of their trip costs. This should lead to a plethora of good deals as the sellers crowd each other out in a race to the bottom of the price ladder. This will also be the period where key standard cards will start to bottom out into their usual summer doldrums, and great cards from Khans block are likely to be in bargain territory with so much focus on Modern cards.
  • Before you plow too much money into the Eldrazi from MM2, keep in mind that we are very likely to get even more exciting Eldrazi this fall in Battle for Zendikar. Since the Eldrazi characters are set in stone, new versions could easily injur the price points on the earlier editions if they prove more interesting to collectors.
  • The absence of man-lands, Inquisition of Kozilek and Goblin Guide leaves me wondering whether WOTC will simply reprint some or all of these cards in the fall. This makes me very hesitant to get in on any of them right now.
  • As I’m writing this Yohan Dudognon is 7-0 at GP Paris running an entirely new multi-color Collected Company deck running Mantis Rider, Savage Knuckleblade and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. He just tapped out end of turn for Stoke the Flames tapping Riders and Knuckleblades so he has my full attention. Bottom line: Collected Company is proving to be a flexible and powerful magic card. Foils should be top targets while they’re cheap. I have them breaking $20 later this year.

So there you have it. Now what were you guys buying and selling this week and why?

James Chillcott is the CEO of, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

ADVERTISEMENT: Get the Cube Starter Bundle with the 3rd Edition Grimoire Deck Box, the brand new Grimoire Deck Box designed specifically for the red mage in you. 

MTGFinance: What We’re Buying/Selling This Week (May 3/15)

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

One of the most common misconceptions about folks involved in MTGFinance is that we are constantly manipulating the market and feeding players misinformation to help fuel achievement of our personal goals.

It has occurred to us at MTGPrice that though we dole out a good deal of advice, most of you ultimately have very little insight into when our writing team actually puts our money where our collective mouths are pointing. As such we’ve decided to run a weekly series breaking down what we’ve been buying and selling each week and why. These lists are meant to be both complete and transparent, leaving off only cards we bought without hope of profit, where appropriate. We’ll also try to provide some insight into our thinking behind the specs, and whether we are aiming for a short (<1 month), mid (1-12 month), or long (1 year+) term flip. Here’s what we were up to this week:

Buying Period: April 27 – May 3, 2015

Note: All cards NM unless otherwise noted. All sell prices are net of fees unless noted.

James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)


  • 4x boxes of Modern Masters 2015 @ $225
  • 2x Tarmogoyf (MM) @ $135
  • 7x Steam Vents (RTR) @ $8.50/per
  • 4x Nylea God of the Hunt @$3/per
  • 1x Sidisi, Undead Vizier (foil) @ $8
  • 1x Heliod, God of the Sun @ $2
  • 1x Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest (foil pre-release) @ $4
  • 2x Glittering Wish @ $5/per
  • 1x Soulfire Grand Master (foil) @ $15
  • 1x Anticipate (foil) @ $8.50
  • 2x Siege Rhino @ $4.00
  • 1x Siege Rhino (pre-release foil) @ $11
  • 1x Dragonlord Dromoka (foil) @ $17
  • 4x Heliod, God of the Sun @ $2.50
  • 4x Gitaxian Probe @ $2.00
  • 1x Time Warp @ $8
  • 1x Grove of the Burnwillows @ $27
  • 1x Dromoka’s Command (Russian) @ $2.50
  • 1x Atarka’s Command (Russian) @ $2.50
  • 1x Kolaghan’s Command (Russian) @ $2.50


  • 1x Fate Reforged Booster Box (Russian) @ $199 USD ($125 cost)
  • 8x Den Protector @ $4/per ($1.25 cost)
  • 5x Dragonlord Ojutai @ $32/per ($6 cost)

SOLD (Pucatrade)

  • 3x Leyline of Sanctity @ $30.91 ($18 cost)

I’ve moved in even deeper on Modern Masters 2015 boxes as my sources all concur that the print run will be lower than expected and that many dealers will have trouble getting a hold of enough boxes to meet their local demand. Further proof comes from my receipt of offers from local dealers at prices far above what I’m buying for. You may be hearing that the print is bigger than last time, and it is, but a lot of that will be eaten up by the massive attendance at 3 GPs worldwide and a flurry of drafting at your local shop. I’m willing to bet that boxes are scarce by mid-June and the price tops $300 again. I’ll be happy to sell into the hype around the triple release GPs, but if I need to hold the boxes until Xmas season to yield my expected 30-40% returns, that’s fine too.

The Tarmogoyfs and the foil Siege Rhinos, along with the Steam Vents were all purchases of opportunity at GP Toronto, where some dealers from smaller towns surrounding Toronto were sporting remarkably low pricing on many staples. It felt like I could have gone very deep on value purchases at the event, and indeed several contacts reported dropping thousands in productive fashion. Selling into hype at a big tournament is always a good place to be, and I continued to unload Ojutai and Den Protector this week into amazing value.

Most of the rest of my buys were late night Ebay value purchases, where auctions were closing at prices below market value. We’re not quite at the season for summer pricing lows, but I’m starting to move in on the Theros gods, looking to acquire piles below $5 to out a few years later over $10.

Over on PucaTrade I continue to dump cards I expect are either peaking or likely to decline due to imminent reprint, with an eye to trading up into a $500-1000 card within a month or two of frequent trading. The latest dumps are Leyline of Sanctity out of my Abzan Tokens deck in Modern, based on the likely appearance of the card in Modern Masters 2015. I expect to get back into these below $20, so selling now at $30 in trade value is great.

Note: The rest of the guys were quiet this week. Look for updates this weekend.

Bonus Tip:

  • Blue devotion is far from dead. A U/G devotion deck with 32 creatures and 4 Collected Company finished 4th at the SCG Open in Portland, and the deck looked very solid on camera. As such I’m in no rush to dump Thassa and Master of Waves just yet, since we’re only another strong finish away from a possible move on these cards. The worst case is a hold waiting for a version in Modern, which is entirely possible if we wait for a few more great creatures to take the formula over the top.
  • Sell Noble Hierarch asap and look to move back in under $20 later this summer. It’s being reprinted at rare in MM2 and that should send the price crashing as the triple GP inventory floods the web in early June.
  • Bitterblossom has been confirmed for MM2 as well, and will likely bleed value since it’s not seeing heavy play at present.

So there you have it. Now what were you guys buying and selling this week and why?

James Chillcott is the CEO of, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

ADVERTISEMENT: Get the Cube Starter Bundle with the 3rd Edition Grimoire Deck Box, the brand new Grimoire Deck Box designed specifically for the red mage in you. 

Digging for Dollars: Dragons of Tarkir

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Dragons of Tarkir marks the culmination of the Tarkir story-line and a block that is likely to be remember fondly for providing one of the better limited environments and one of the very best Standard seasons in recent memory.  As this point of the year we are very close to having our Standard decks for the season reach the apex of their potential power, with just Magic: Origins now unreleased and nearly 2000 cards at our disposal.

However, despite some very tasty early reveals, the financial future of Dragons of Tarkir is pretty hazy as we look forward at the rest of 2015. As pointed out by Saffron Olive in his excellent article on the Estimated Value (EV) of the set, the current value of a box is well below the average set value of the  last few years, and certainly not worth cracking packs of at present. This is especially concerning because we haven’t even made it to release weekend yet, and normally at this point the hype around a new set is strong enough to drive prices up to a temporary high that lasts a couple of weeks. This is not the case with Dragons of Tarkir, and it leaves us wondering, what’s up with this set?

When digging for dollars with DTK, we have to ask ourselves whether the combined wisdom of the player base is having trouble identifying the currently undervalued cards hiding in the shadows, or whether we’re simply dealing with Dragon’s Maze 2.0, a set notorious for it’s ongoing lack of valuable cards.

For my part, I believe that Dragons of Tarkir is:

a) primarily targeted at casual players and that as such many cards will be bulk for a while before they pick up from casual/EDH demand

b) up against several previous set’s worth of very, very powerful cards that may preclude many of the new cards from seeing extensive play

c) overpriced thus far on the handful of good cards that fell victim to pre-order hype (ie Narset, Enlightened Master)

d) lacking in rares in mythics destined for Modern and Legacy play

This combination means that the set is largely lacking in major standouts for short-term gains and also that many of my picks will only have 18 months in Standard to find homes before they hit the bulk bins for years. Now on the plus side, the ever-shifting 2015 Standard metagame leaves a lot of room for price spikes on select cards whose decks find sudden success in high profile Top 8’s. The low EV of the set, much of which lies in the lacking mythic rares, also leaves the door wide open for some rares to hit the $10-12+ range.

All of that being said, I think there are some cards here worth picking out. Remember however, that you’re really going to see the greatest returns if you skip the armchair theorizing and buckle down to test the decks ahead of the curve. It’s also worth noting that summer often represents annual lows for Standard staples, so you really need to believe your deck is going to have a shot at taking off within the next few months to justify not waiting until the release of Modern Masters (2015) to dive in.

Here, presented in no particular order, are my picks for the cards in Dragons of Tarkir most likely to reward timely speculation, with all target prices assumed to be possible during 2015 unless otherwise noted:

1. Dragonlord Ojutai

Now: $5
Target: $6-8

Frankly, this dragon lord is being overlooked and underestimated. The funny thing is that it’s actually the new control tools on offer at common and uncommon that seem to make his inclusion in an U/W or Esper Control strategy a very likely event. Cards like Anticipate, Silkwrap, Banishing Light, Ultimate Price, Hero’s Downfall, Dig Through Time, Negate, and Treasure Cruise all help a deck using Ojutai to kill the opponent a real thing. Ojutai only costs 5, which is low enough for him to be a 4-of in a control deck that doesn’t feel like waiting around. This is a very nice casting cost for a potentially game ending threat that allows control to cast him early and rely on his hexproof to hold down the fort, or to use some of their new 2-mana counters or kill spells to back him up a bit later in the game. Heck, he loves it when you cast Crux of Fate and he plays very nicely with Silumgar’s Scorn, which is also much better than you think. The fact that connecting with him lets you cast a free Anticipate (the best blue card in the set) is just gravy.

2. Sidisi, Undead Vizier

Now: $3
Target: $5-7

Here’s a card I intend to go deep on, because I actually think this guy could be Modern playable at some point. Silver bullet strategies have been extremely powerful in the past, and there is a mountain of potential graveyard synergy to fuel his actions. Think Kitchen Finks. Remember, Diabolic Tutor type effects typically cost four mana, so we’re basically getting a 4/6 Deathtouch for one that just happens to block and kill Siege Rhino, Monastery Mentor, Goblin Rabblemaster, Surrak, Hunt Caller, etc. That body is stapled to the ability to sacrifice a creature we want in the graveyard anyway (Deathmist Raptor), or which has overstayed it’s welcome (Satyr Wayfinder), and then go get whatever answer we need to our opponent’s most pressing threat. Being able to choose between Thoughtseize, Ultimate Price, Hero’s Downfall or Dromoka’s Charm is no joke. Ultimately, I think the zombie snake is a 2-3 of, but that might be enough to earn a spike if someone figures out how to optimize his usage.

3. Zurgo, Bellstriker

Now: $2
Target: $4-5

Mono-red aggro now has all of the tools they could ever want to take advantage of control decks and new durdly decks that spend too much time fooling around with their new toys to drive home the killing blow. Make no mistake, despite his embarrassing new role in Tarkir society, Zurgo is one of the best red creatures in the format and highly likely to hit top tables in the first wave of new Standard decks debuting later this month. If the deck puts up consistent results, this card should hit $4-5 easily, and post-rotation this fall the deck should still be in great shape and set up to do even better during this weakest Standard field of the year.

4. Stratus Dancer

Now: $2
Target: $3-4

If mono-red ends up being a beating, the mono-blue devotion we’re all trying to resurrect gets that much better because Master of Waves is an absolute coffin nail against red. Brad Nelson and Todd Anderson posted a five-game match to Star City Games this week, and it showed pretty clearly that while blue devotion might not be what it was, it’s still a real deck.  This card is not the 2-drop that blue devotion wants, but it is the 2-drop that they’re going to need. As an early evasive threat that can counter instants or sorceries starting on turn 4, Status Walker is also playable in other tempo oriented strategies and will often be a 4-of when it’s being played at all. As such there is some slight upside to be had if you can prove out his value in your testing regiment and get in on some copies before anyone else notices how good this card is.

5. Surrak, Caller of the Hunt

Now: $2
Target: $4-5

In the not so distant future, Polukranos is going to rotate out of Standard, and people are going to realize that a similarly costed beatstick with haste is a pretty good way to get your game on. Green just so happens to be the strongest color in Standard right now, and that’s likely to last until at least the fall. In the meantime, plenty of people are brewing up R/G, Mono-Green and Temur builds that include this guy as a 2-3 of. Don’t be put off by his Legendary status. After all, Polukranos has already amply demonstrated that the first copy of a must-answer threat either dies to removal and frees up the second copy immediately, or it doesn’t die and you are clearly winning with a backup in hand. If some key pros (think Brian Kibler) end up making this work and get somewhere at Pro Tour DTK, expect this card to double in price on the spot.

6. Blood-Chin Fanatic

Now: $1
Target: $3-4

This guy basically dies to everything, right? Well, not quite. See, in the mono-black and B/W warrior builds they’ve usually run out of removal by the time you’re this far up the curve, and if your aggro deck gets hit with a sweeper, that’s just something you live with. The rest of the time, this guy starts doing a Gray Merchant of Asphodel impression once you get stalled out on the ground, and buys you time to finish things off. These decks were already Tier 2 prior to this set and now have additional options including Blood-Chin Rager (Falter effect), Pitiless Horde (Lava Axe), Ultimate Price/Silkwrap (Cheap Kill) and Arashin Foremost (Portable Beating and another target to double up from $1.50 to $4).  It’s entirely possible that we see one of these builds claim a Top 8 slot before summer in which case, this card could easily triple up. Otherwise this slides into bulk oblivion in a hurry.

7. Dragon Tempest

Now: $3.50
Target: $5-6

So, the future of this card and it’s effect on your wallet lies almost entirely on whether the Dragon Tempest/Descent of the Dragons combo manages to find a home in a Tier 1 deck before the end of the year. To live the dream you play some small creatures like Battlefield Thaumaturge, Sylvan Caryatid or Dragon Fodder/Hordling Outburst that are tough to kill reliably before Turn 5. You then cast both Tempest and Descent on the same turn, turn 3 creatures into 4/4 dragons with haste, they deal nine to your opponent directly, and then attack for 12. That’s 21 as early as turn 4 or 5.  Hour of Need can provide a backup combo plan. Your deck can be built U/R (for consistency) or U/R/G (to support Caryatid and possibly Sarkhan) and can easily work a transformational sideboard, swapping out the combo for a mid-range game plan with Thunderbreak Regent and Stormbreath Dragon.

8. Boltwing Marauder

Now: $0.50
Target: $2-4

This is a reasonably costed evasive threat that can attack for 11 when you cast Hordling Outburst and can’t be killed by Silkwrap or Ultimate Price. Dragon Fodder and Secure the Wastes are also real cards. Hornet Queen gives it (or something else) +10! The Boltwing is also worth a mere 2 quarters at present, likely because it’s totally overshadowed by flashier dragons. I’m picking up a few sets, just in case someone puts this to work.

9. Icefall Regent

Now: $1.50
Target: $3-4

This is part Dungeon Geists, part Frost Titan and both of those cards made top tables in Standard in seasons past. It’s also a very plausible top of curve if mono-blue devotion, U/R dragons or another blue mid-range strategy takes off. It turns Silumgar’s Scorn into straight up Counterspell alongside Ojutai. The rate is good enough on this card that it can easily triple if you see this on camera at some point.

10. Profaner of the Dead

A lot of people are completely missing that in Standard this card is going to bounce 75-100% of the opposing army against decks like GW Aggro, Mono Red, Mono Blue, G/W Devotion, Warriors even when it has to exploit itself. If you’re in some weird Sultai build this can even stay on board while you ditch something tasty to whip back the following turn. Whipping the Profaner back is still pretty ugly. This also has a future in EDH/Commander where you can bounce untold creatures while mining value from something big you wanted to die for value. At $0.50 this is already near it’s lowest possible price, and I’m in for 20 copies right off the bat.

Now: $0.50
Target: $2-3

 Dark Horse PickAvatar of the Resolute (foil)

Now: $1.50/$5 (foil)
Target: $4-5/$15 (foil)

It wasn’t so long ago that we got a 3/2 for GG and called it playable. These days we’re getting reach, trample and the ability to grow very quickly in the presence of +1/+1 counters and most of us are yawning. Let me be clear. This card is definitely playable, possibly even in Modern. Living the dream with this card is a deck that can field a couple of counter based creatures on turns 1 and 2 and play this as a 5/4 on Turn 3. A 4/3 on turn 2 could beat Tarmogoyf a lot of the time.  I’ve been testing a counters based Modern deck for a while, and it will love this card, falling into the ranks along with Bloodhall Ooze, Young Wolf, Scavenging Ooze, Experiment One, Strangleroot Geist, Lotleth Troll and Predator Ooze. The deck is nowhere near Tier 1 but eventually the bell will get rung on critical mass of good counter synergy based low drops will get hit and this card will see play.

Bonus Notes:

So there you have it, the long-shot specs of Dragons of Tarkir. Which ones are you going after and why? Anything I missed that you think has a shot at a big rise?

Fate Reforged Update:

In our Fate Reforged Digging for Dollars, I called out the following specs:

  1. Humble Defector (foil)
  2. Frontier Siege
  3. Yasova Dragonclaw
  4. Tasigur, the Golden Fang
  5. Torrent Elemental
  6. Cloudform (foil)
  7. Wildcall
  8. Dark Deal (foil)
  9. Reality Shift (foil)
  10. Soulflayer (foil)

From this list, Humble Defector, Frontier Siege, Yasova, Tasigur and Torrent Elemental all saw high level tournament play in the last few months. Tasigur and Frontier Siege might have even made you some money. I went pretty deep on Tasigur at $2, and that has easily paid for some of the specs here that were stillborn. Not bad at all given the time-frame but still proof that buying the full portfolio of long-shot lists like this is a bad strategy. You really need to figure out which of the options is the next Tasigur and load up, which is much harder than it sounds.

IMHO Cloudform needs time to find a Modern or Legacy deck. Dark Deal and Soulflayer are already seeing play, but their foils haven’t really taken off yet. Reality Shift is a consensus terrible card so far. Wildcall was utterly overshadowed by the success of Master of the Unseen/Whisperwood Elemental as the definitive manifest cards in Standard.

See you next time!

James Chillcott is the CEO of, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

Digging for Dollars: Fate Reforged

By James Chillcott (@MTGCritic)

Fate Reforged, the second set in the Khans of Tarkir block, is proving to be a tantalizing puzzle for folks interested in MTGFinance. The set introduces new mechanics, cards and themes which are difficult to evaluate without detailed deck testing. Further, the wide open nature and high power level of the current standard format means that incoming cards have a high bar to measure up to, and many possible interactions to consider.  Fate Reforged also includes reprints of the KTK fetchlands, so their value will also weigh on all but the best of the cards in the set.  Also worth considering is the fact that Fate Reforged will only be on the market for 6 weeks or so before Dragons of Tarkir previews start, opening up new opportunities and pitfalls for previously released cards, as well as reducing overall openings for Fate Reforged.

The set’s financial value is currently anchored by a scant handful of mythic rares: Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Monastery Mentor and Soulfire Grand Master. These three cards alone are currently valued at a combined $80+, and as such, most rares in the set will end up in near-bulk status ($1-2) unless they can achieve widespread success while simultaneously displacing the demand for the big 3 mythics (as some reduction in the 3 hottest card’s value will likely be necessary for the remaining cards to rise in value. For what it’s worth I currently have Ugin, Mentor and Grand Master pegged to hit $20, $22 and $14 respectively within 6 weeks of release.)

This scenario almost certainly means that picking the few remaining cards that may break out as major players in the new standard or older formats is a potentially very profitable endeavor. Doing so however, is easier said than done, as one must identify the unsung heroes of the set, while simultaneously predicting that other players will come around to the same line of thinking through play testing and tournament results.

Before we dive in on Fate Reforged cards however, it behooves us to look back over our collective shoulders at some of the cards that “made it” from Khans of Tarkir last fall to see what helped them make us money. Here’s a few of the bigger hits:

  1. Treasure Cruise (foil)
  2. Dig Through Time (reg/foil)
  3. Siege Rhino (foil)
  4. Monastery Swiftspear (foil)
  5. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (reg)

The common theme here is “powerful cards that were underestimated at first”, with a splash (in Sidisi) of cards that just needed time to find their place in Standard. Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time were w0idely insulted in the early days of KTK previews, as folks who hadn’t played with Delve before had trouble envisioning just how powerful mana-free casting costs really are. While others were insulting these cards in set reviews I was picking up Japanese foils by the dozen, a move that allowed me to double up within 2 months of release. Monastery Swiftspear was another widely unheralded card during preview season but it now stands shoulder to shoulder with Delver of Secrets and Goblin Guide as one of the best 1-drop threats ever printed.  Japanese foils of this card were available overseas for as little as $8USD in September, and I sold my last set this week for $50/per.

Siege Rhino was identified as being a central pillar of standard fairly early on, but when I started suggesting he was destined for Modern play in November based on some early Pod lists from key pros, plenty of people scoffed. Fast forward a few months and Rhino is a key component of the evolving Value (Birthing) Pod decks, and many pros have stated that it’s so good in Modern that it would likely survive the banning of Birthing Pod itself. I’ve been snatching up $10-15 foil copies of Siege Rhino, as I can easily see them hitting $30+ in a post-Treasure Cruise world in Modern. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant was on the back bench for the first half of the fall standard season as Jeskai Tempo, Abzan, Temur and Jeskai Ascendancy decks dominated the scene, but as the season continued, the grindy Whip of Erebos decks emerged as the value mongers of the format, and Sidisi, as a 4-of mythic, provided strong returns on the $2 low prices I was paying in late October.

Note that the key with almost all of these cards was that they were cross-format all-stars, with most of them being played in at least 2 formats. Also, each card often appears as a 3 or 4-of, and only Sidisi is Legendary.

Our goal then is to similarly identify the cards from Fate Reforged that are currently the most underrated and undervalued, and which have the best shot at crossing formats or at least achieving dominant positions in standard.

Here are my picks for the cards in Fate Reforged most likely to reward early speculation:

  1. Humble Defector (Foil)

Formats: Standard, Modern, Legacy, Vintage

Humble Defector is my top pick for underrated cards in Fate Reforged. To my eyes, as an aggressive 2-drop that can easily be leveraged as a card drawing engine and combo enabler it is very likely to find a home in multiple formats as cards are noticed or released that enable his most broken possible turns. Many players seem to be getting hung up on the fact that this card can end up in the hands of an opponent, but focusing on this drawback largely misses the point of this card. You see, ideally, the deck that makes the best use of his ability will be built to ensure that he either a) doesn’t live long enough to let the opponent draw cards or b) steals him back. Regardless, with all the card draw, presumably nested within an Aggro, Combo or Burn shell, the opponent shouldn’t be around very long even in the worst case scenario.

Of special note is how well Humble Defector combos with the utterly broken standard/modern/legacy combo piece Jeskai Ascendancy. With Ascendancy and Humble Defector in play and cantrips in hand, you have the potential to draw 4-8 cards in the same turn, ultimately bouncing (Retraction Helix) or sacrificing (Collateral Damage) Humble Defector after drawing your cards and possibly even attacking for 3-4 damage in lieu of his last card draw trigger. If that doesn’t peak your interest, nothing will. Note that even in situations where the opponent actually gets to use Humble Defector, you got your cards first, they aren’t likely to be set up like you are to abuse him, and they then have to give him back for you to further abuse. It’s also worth noting that Humble Defector is a great card to play politics with in EDH.

Now as an uncommon, I’m much more interested in foils and foreign foils of this guy than I am regular copies, as I believe that it’s only a matter of time before he finds a home in a broken deck in the older formats.

2. Frontier Siege (Non-Foil/Foil)

Formats: Standard/Modern/EDH

There are a few things people are missing with this card at first glance. Firstly, it generates GG at the start of both of your main phases (both before and after your combat phase), which is to say, this is a ramp spell that generates 4 mana per turn at the cost of 4 mana. Now it’s true that you don’t get all of the mana at the same time, but if you had 4 mana to put it into play, you now have 4 mana in each of your main phases, which means that in a green, deck you probably just ramped from 4 mana to 8 mana on turn 4, with the caveat that you can cast two 4-drops but not Ugin. If you have permanents that can make use of the extra mana, such as enchantments, equipment or pump effects, all the better. The 2nd mode on the card seems kind of narrow, until of course you realize that it combos with both Hornet Nest and Hornet Queen, in that the Hornets now act as Nekrataals when they hit the board. This card is commonly available under a $1 at present, and could hit $4-5 if it ends up being heavily played in Standard within the year. Foils are out there in the $3-5 range, and seem likely to achieve $10+ down the road.

3. Yasova Dragonclaw (Non-Foil)

Formats: Standard

Sure, she dies to everything in the format, but so does Monastery Mentor and Goblin Rabblemaster and they’re still top cards. She’s also a Legendary Creature, which never helps, but a lot of people are missing some of her potential shenanigans. She is likely a Standard only kind of gal, so that doesn’t help her odds to make us money, but Trample is actually more useful in this format than most folks realize. Still, no less a player than Frank Karsten has proposed her presence in a deck seeking to abuse Humble Defector and Collateral Damage, and he points out the following set of potential interactions:

  • Humble Defector + Yasova Dragonclaw: Draw two and immediately steal it back from your opponent [on the attack] to draw two more.
  • Humble Defector + Collateral Damage: Put the activated ability on the stack and sacrifice it in response. You get to draw 2 cards, and your opponent won’t get anything in return.
  • Yasova Dragonclaw + Collateral Damage: Attack your opponent with his own creature and then sacrifice it to kill another one of his creatures.

All of that sounds good, but I still don’t expect Yasova to get there early in the season switchover. As such, she could drop as low as $1, at which point I’ll be looking to get in on a few playsets, if further reasons to play her have popped up, looking to exit around $3-4.

4. Tasigur, The Golden Fang (Non-Foil)

Formats: Standard/Modern/Legacy/EDH

This guy has been discussed plenty, but no one seems quite certain whether he’s the real deal. At $3 pre-order he may head lower before he heads higher, but he could also hit $6-7 if he makes it to an early top table as part of the reformulated Whip deck. The downside here is that he’s a Legendary creature, and as such, unlikely to be used as a 4-of. On the upside, he hits on a number of interesting angles, including low casting cost (due to Delve), the ability to fuel future graveyard/Delve cards later in the game, and his ability to rebuy your best cards, as manipulated by other Delve costs being paid. His single black casting cost and hybrid mana ability cost also means he could end up in decks we haven’t thought of yet, and in color combinations other than Sultai. That’s a lot of power for a card that will often be cast for 2-3 mana and I suspect that we see Tasigur find a home as a 2-3 of in Whip decks and settle in the $4-5 range once folks move on to opening Dragons of Tarkir instead of Fate Reforged. There’s also a possibility people will want foils down the road for EDH or Legacy or Modern, as he’s likely big enough to tussle with the best, so tread that path as you will since they’re still under $10 at present.

5. Torrent Elemental (Non-Foil)

Formats: Standard/Legacy

I totally missed this card on my first pass, outside of possible niche Legacy applications with Force of Will (as a card that can be exiled and provide future value). Then a few notable deck builders drew my attention to the fact that the card can also be exiled by Delve spells as part of their casting cost, and that a Whip/Delve/Tasigur deck is likely to be a thing in the very near future, based on early testing results. I’m still not completely sold, as I’m not sure this thing is ever going to be a 4-of, and could easily be pushed out of the resulting deck in favor of better metagame choices. Nevertheless, any “maybe” mythic  available under $3 is worth a look because if it becomes a mainstay it could easily rise into the $8-10 range.

6. Cloudform (Foil)

Formats: Standard/Legacy

One of the biggest problems with trying to pull off tricks with Manifest is that whatever you throw out there as a 2/2 is likely to be vulnerable until such time as you can flip it up. Now in standard it’s not clear that Manifest got enough support to “get there”, but in older formats many players are overlooking the potential to abuse your library with manipulation like Sensei’s Divining Top , Worldly TutorPonder or Serum Visions, and manifest a Phyrexian Dreadnaught or Hooded Hydra for very little mana. A 12/12, flying, hexproof creature or a 5/5 flying, hexproof creature that leaves behind 5 1/1s is nothing to scoff at. As such I’ve been snagging these foils under $3 (maxing at 6 sets) on the assumption that someone is going to find a fun Tier 2 deck in an older format at some point that makes these a very solid value. One deck list I’ve been fooling around with mixes elements of Reanimator and Show&Tell with Cloudform, Brainstorm and Faithless Looting to ensure we’re sneaking something awesome into play on turn 2 or 3 one way or the other.

7. Wildcall (Non-Foil/Foil)

Formats: Standard/Modern/Legacy

If a Manifest deck makes it even to Tier 2 in Standard in the next 18 months, than the 50 copies of this rare card I’ve acquired for $.50 are going to look pretty smart. As with Cloudform, the potential is there for broken shenanigans in older formats as well, so I’m happy to sit on these for a while even if nothing develops in standard. The bottom line is that Wildcall always provides a creature of the size appropriate to the turn you draw it on, a subtle feature that should not be underestimated. Give it enough things worth manifesting and it just gets better, and it’s worth noting that placing counters on things is an added bonus that can be abused.

8. Dark Deal (Foil)

Formats: Modern/Legacy/Vintage/EDH

Call me crazy, but this isn’t different enough from the banned Windfall template to make this unplayable. Sure, you get one less card, but you see X-1 additional cards for 3 mana, where X was your initial hand size, all while stocking your graveyard with exactly the things you wanted to get there. Think combo, delve, reanimator, etc. You may also disrupt your opponent, though you’re just as likely to fix their hand. Nevertheless, I suspect this card is breakable as a combo/enabler piece in older formats and with foils going for around $2 I’m happy to pick up a few sets. At the very least Nekusar decks will run this in EDH, giving your cheap foils a fine fallback position. As an uncommon with no likely prospects so far in Standard, steer clear on non-foils.

9. Reality Shift (Foil)

Formats: Standard/Modern/Legacy/Vintage

This card is half Path to Exile and half Swan Song, and it’s almost certainly playable in Vintage and Legacy. It exiles a creature for 2 mana, which is twice as much as Path to Exile or Swords to Plowshares. This must be balanced however against the fact that it’s in blue, the undisputed best color in eternal formats and the most frequent partner for burn spells. Being able to remove big threats easily while (probably) leaving a slow 2/2 clock on the board might actually be better than giving the opponent a land or some life, especially if you were sweeping, burning or otherwise ignoring their creatures anyway. It’s possible that the card even shows up in standard, since it answers most threats in the format easily and cheaply, and it’s drawback can be worked around in the air. quietly sold out of these at $2.99 and $3.99 during pre-orders, so if you can snag these in that range you should be in good shape for when they start popping up in powerful decks.

10. Soulflayer (Non-foil/Foil)

This bad boy is hanging over the next phase of KTK Standard like a giant, nasty question mark. Is he an auto-include in Sultai whip decks? Will it be worth it to pair him with Chromanticore and live the dream? His current pre-sales at $2.50 and $5 for non-foils and foils respectively reflect curiosity present in the absence of certainty. Myself, I don’t think we’re dreaming big enough.   In Standard you can get a 4/4 Flying, First Strike, Lifelink, Vigilence and Trample creature with Chromanticore, sure, but you could also just use Sagu Mauler to get Trample/Hexproof, or Siliumgar to get Hexproof/Flying which may be the better option in a format with tons of removal flying around. Reflect on the fact that in Legacy you can go: Swamp, 2x Dark Ritual, Emtomb Silumgar, Soulflayer and have your bad boy ready to party on turn 1 with very little chance of a valid response from your opponent beyond Force of Will. Start brainstorming decks that can dump 2-3 relevant creatures with the full mix of abilities into the graveyard early in the game and things really get nasty. In Standard I give this guy a 50/50 shot of hitting full potential and getting up to $6-8, but I think his foils actually have more upside as his combo partners are only going to get more numerous as time goes on, and could easily reach $30-40 with a top table result.

Honourable Mention: Silumgar & Atarka


I think both of these wild wyrms are being underestimated, especially given what’s likely to show up in a certain set called “Dragons of Tarkir”, coming our way in only a couple of months. Siliumgar, the Drifting Death, is likely a strict upgrade for UB control vs. Pearl Lake Ancient at a time where that deck is also gaining Reality Shift, Ugin and Crux of Fate. Hexproof and flying are a big game in the current standard, as is dodging the sweeper effect of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and killing the myriad of expected tokens when you attack a la Doomwake Giant. He’s also a great blocker until you find your Crux and go on offense. He’s probably only a 1-2 of, and his ceiling is therefore likely around $4-5, but with a ton more dragons coming this spring, he can only get better. Atarka on the other hand is looking like a custom made finisher to pair with See The Unwritten and Stormbreath Dragon. In the current standard it’s not tough at all to cast STU on turn 4 off of Savage Knuckleblade for Ferocious and end up with a 6/4 Double Striking attacker to take the first kill spell while Stormbreath or Hornet Queen mops up. And that’s just with the tools we’ve already got.  Like Silumgar, Atarka is pre-ordering for just $1.50 and I suspect it will slide to $1 once the floodgates open on online sales and I fully intend to grab at least 12 of each once we get there.

So there you have it, the long-shot specs of Fate Reforged. Which ones are you going after and why? Anything I missed that you think has a shot at a big rise?

James Chillcott is the CEO of, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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