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This Week In Theros

I’m really not a fan of the huge lag between the reveal of cards and the time when they can begin shipping. I also don’t enjoy that I can’t do paper drafts during prerelease weekend, or the time after prerelease. Making me wait a whole week for updates to my Commander decks, my Cube, and anything else I have going on is just plain cruel.

And now that I’m done yelling at clouds, let’s look at the things that jumped up in price this week!

Before we get too deep, there’s some caveats to make about these prices. Since it’s only allowed to ship these starting today, the TCG prices and the other vendors aren’t in alignment. Also, some prices have changed since I reviewed them Thursday evening. Please, be kind.

Ashiok, Nightmare Muse (up to $17 from about $11)

I liked Elspeth last week at $7 but I should have seen Ashiok as the finisher in UB control or some Esper build. I’ve had the privilege of losing to this card in Limited, and I love any planeswalker who gets a card from the plus or the minus ability. It’s not difficult to get them into the ultimate range, and while I don’t think it’ll hold at $17, this is a nice bump and a sign that the format isn’t too aggro yet.

Dream Trawler (Up to $4 from about $1)

Speaking of finishers, can I interest you in a Time Wipe or bust? I’ve won Limited games with this, and I won’t be shocked if it’s the finisher du jour in formats besides Standard. You’re gaining five on the attack, plus the extra card. It’s very difficult to beat in combat, it’s extremely difficult to race, and that mana requirement is the only thing stopping this from being $10. Decks aren’t playing a full playset of this (yet) and that’s to be expected on a six-drop. I think this price is going to recede to $3 or so, but more likely is that everyone starts playing the heck out of this card and it pops to $7 this first weekend. It’s very difficult to make money on a short term jump like that, I don’t recommend you try.

Thassa’s Oracle (Up to $4 from about $2)

Look, you can name your own combo with this card. It’s not difficult to figure out the game state that ends up with you victorious after a certain amount of silliness. Commander players eat this up, and let’s not overlook that we’ve not got this bad boy and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries in the same Standard. I’m exceedingly leery of trying to make that work when Murderous Rider and Mystical Dispute are everywhere, but I appreciate the optimism that people are showing.

I do not think the Oracle can hold $4 long-term, but what I’m going to be watching is the price of the EA foils. Right now those are in the $80 range on TCG, and supply is appropriately tiny. “I win the game” cards always have a certain cache to them, it’s a challenge that a large number of people can’t ignore.

Setessan Champion (up to $3 from $1)

There’s a Bogles deck in Standard! Thankfully, there’s only one real hexproof creature in the deck, not two, but this deck will wreck your face if you’re not prepared. Season of Growth plus this card is a card advantage nightmare if you don’t have the right tools, not to mention the Alseid making everyone hate the little 1/1 for 1. All that Glitters is a superstar here, you’ve got a Rancor replacement in Setessan Training, and really, be thankful that there’s nothing else in this environment with Hexproof under five mana. Be very aware of this card, because if there’s anything with hexproof in the next four sets, this is an automatic four-of and will jump in price accordingly. I’m not buying now, but when it settles back down, I’ll be considering buying a brick of them for later buylisting.

Underworld Breach (Up to $5 from $3.50)

It seems inevitable that someone will break this card. Yes, it’s infinite milling with Brain Freeze and Lion’s Eye Diamond as long as you mill yourself a little. You’ll buzzsaw their deck first. There’s three Extended Art foils under $60 on TCG and I think that’s good value, especially with the ramp up to the $80 range. I also think this is easier to abuse than Thassa’s Oracle, so we will see where the relative values land.

Going up to $5 is no big deal at the moment, but when word breaks of someone who crushed a PTQ using this in some weird combo, it’ll jump again, hard. Happily, as a key combo piece, it’ll always be a four-of and you’ll be selling these by the playset instead of just the singles.

I also like the flipside of the card’s potential: If it does nothing for the next three months, then it’ll be dirt cheap when Ikoria comes out and I can vacuum up lots and lots of copies.

Nightmare Shepherd (Up to $4 from $1.50)

Finally, the mayor of valuetown. I don’t know if I have the courage to play this in a Commander deck, but I would certainly love the feeling of knowing I’m going to get all my triggers all over again. Your combo choices are many and plentiful, in Standard and elsewhere. The favored thing to do will be to curve Ayara into this and then Gary the Grey Merchant, which should end the game relatively easily. Don’t forget that it’s a 4/4 flier for four, with no drawbacks at all. No random discards, no “you can’t win the game,” or other such problems. Just a steady and delicious stream of unending recycled creatures for maximum value. Korvold’s new best friend.

One more thing about Theros: I’m not picking up the foil lands yet, because I want to see what the supply will be like. Right now, they are going for $6-7 on eBay in foil, and that’s kind of absurd. The early box openings are showing that there’s just one or two foil lands per box, and if enough people dump copies down into the $3 range, I’ll be listening. It doesn’t matter if you like the art personally, don’t let that get in the way of the profits to be made.

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.

Collecting Today

Magic’s structure was the very first collectible card game, commonly called a CCG or now a Trading Card Game, the TCG in TCGPlayer.

A whole lot of Magic’s value is tied up in the collectibility of these cards, in how we can get some unique or special or exotic versions of a regular card. 

Interestingly, though, not all collectibles are created equal, and definitely show unequal levels of growth. Let’s dive in, shall we?

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Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

One Way or another

There was a time that I used to take bets on cards getting banned. 

And then Hogaak happened, where Wizards first decided to ban an auxiliary card in a format’s new and overwhelming deck, and I lost money because I didn’t think that they would just let it go.

After that, they DID ban Hogaak, causing me to lose money again because I figured they’d made it clear that the old cards were the problem, not the new one that could still be opened.

Now I’m wiser. I don’t have any idea at all what’s going to happen on Monday. Will Oko, Thief of Crowns be dethroned? Will there be collateral damage?

What I do know is, there’s plans to be made in either scenario. 

First, let’s take a moment and appreciate something truly special about Oko’s price: the heavy weight of an expected banning.

Yes, dear reader, CoolStuff was selling Oko for a month at $90, while it was being opened. Then the oppressive nature of the card, and its compatriots in Standard, started dragging the price downwards. 

There’s some hay to be made about how the value of any set goes down over time, and I’m planning on exploring the effect that Collector Boosters are having on the finance of the game, but really, Oko ought to be much more expensive than it is. 

The saturation is quite real:

  • 69% of the Day 1 metagame at the Mythic Championship was some form of Oko deck. There’s a lot of variations, and I appreciate snappy deck names such as Cat Food, but the dominance of the deck in Standard got more profound in Day 2, where the percentage went up, despite the pros knowing it would be popular. Noxious Grasp and Aether Gust were in maindecks all over the place and it didn’t matter much.
  • Oko is showing up in a lot of Modern decks. Whirza likes a copy. Amulet Titan has a couple to play with. There’s some artifact-based decks that are trying to go off with Oko. 
  • Legacy has copies in winning Temur Delver lists.
  • Vintage is rocking Oath of Druids with Oko, powering down their artifacts and giving them creatures to let your Oath resolve. Nasty and powerful.

It’s Oko’s world, until Monday. Oko’s price has been dropping since the dominance started, in defiance of all expectations. When Wizards banned Field of the Dead on October 21, you’d think that Oko (and Oko-related cards) would spike as that deck took over, but it seems people bought in quite reluctantly.

So, we have two scenarios coming next week:

If Oko gets banned

I won’t be shocked if some other green cards get the hammer too, for the record. The only thing that will shock me is if Wizards just unbans Field of the Dead and tells the pros “You figure it out!”

Oko’s price will fall some. Not by much, due to demand in the other formats, and that includes Cube and Commander. Oko’s flexibility and power cannot be denied. I doubt the price will go much below $25, frankly. A lot of Oko’s current price point is tied up in the expectation of getting banned. 

Long-term, however, I think Oko has a lot of potential. Foils of Oko are very low price compared to the original. On TCGPlayer, you can get NM foils for $40, which seems like a very good price even if it’ll never get the heights that the borderless foil has gotten to. Oko is too good in too many formats to stay cheap. Around the time that we start opening Theros: Beyond Death boosters, I want to be picking up Oko for the long term.

What gets unlocked if Oko and some accomplices get banned? Aggro decks get a lot better, and the card I love most in those lists is Embercleave. 

Yes, it’s no longer $5 but it’s gettable at $7.50 and a total face-wrecker. Aggro decks are generally playing three, and if the format swivels to being super fast, this is going to hit $20 again.

I’m also a big big fan of picking up Murderous Rider at about the same price. We’ve seen what powerful, flexible removal spells do over time, and the trajectories of Vraska’s Contempt and Hero’s Downfall tell me to buy while it’s cheap: 

If Oko isn’t banned

It seems super implausible that Wizards would try something like banning Once Upon a Time, Gilded Goose, and Nissa, Who Shakes the World but not banning Oko directly…but it could happen. 

My impulse would be to snap-buy all the Oko copies currently languishing on eBay in the $25 range, hoping to resell at $45 or $50 to the people playing Standard or realizing how good the card is in other formats. 

Given that everyone already expects a banning, this might not work, though. Maybe the price doesn’t change because everyone will expect the next banning to finally take down the menace. Maybe people will expect that the card sucks, without all the good accessories to play with.

To those folks, I’d point to Hogaak. The meta immediately settled on a Bridge from Below build that self-milled wonderfully and then really kicked into gear. Banning the Bridge merely made the deck change to a more Vengevine-focused one. Trying to ban around Oko is going to make some currently cheap cards into very expensive ones, and my best advice there is to make sure you’re primed and ready on our Discord channel.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that Oko was going to be $100 and going to be banned. Eventually, Wizards will see the light and ban the card, and from the ashes, a new Standard will rise.

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.

Pioneering for profit

Pioneer is here! We’ve been expecting a new nonrotating format for a while, and having the fetches be banned is going to determine the outline of the format. The preliminary look of the thing is wild, with Modern’s bans not shaping the new format…yet.

I get it, I do, that Wizards wants to give people a chance. There’s not going to be an Eldrazi winter, since Temple, Eye, and the Tron lands aren’t legal. Heck, there’s not even bouncelands!

What we do have are some strong opportunities for gaining value, and while you’ve heard some of them, others are yet unpicked…

First of all, two caveats:

  1. Stuff is going to get banned. Sure, there’s no fetchlands, and that makes Deathrite Shaman a lot less busted, but does that mean Treasure Cruise is bad? Dig Through Time, Energy decks, Saheeli Rai plus Felidar Guardian…all of these are too good for a format like Modern, and Pioneer has a lot less answers.
  2. Stuff is going to get reprinted. Aaron Forsythe went on Twitch and said that Mystery this November isn’t Pioneer Masters, but it seems silly that they’d premier a new format without giving availability a boost. The reprints might not be soon, but they will happen. Masters sets sell far too well for this to not happen.

Keep both of these factors in mind. When a card spikes, sell and sell hard.

Heart of Kiran ($2.50 nonfoil/$14 foil)

Travis picked this to hit $5 on Monday, and I think he’s being super pessimistic. This is going to be $10 again, until Abrade becomes a maindeck card. We have two three-drop planeswalkers that have two plus abilities. Heart into The Royal Scions is SIX first strike, flying, trample damage coming in on turn three and that Heart will be available for defense too!

Smuggler’s Copter is the Vehicle getting all the attention, because it’s amazing and pushed, but Heart is the one that’s got a lot less of a chance to get eventually banned. 

Prized Amalgam ($2.50/$5)

There is a Dredge deck in Pioneer, but more accurately it’ll be a self-mill deck. Satyr Wayfinder, Glowspore Shaman, and Grisly Salvage are going to fuel a deck that just keeps coming back again and again. I’m not sure what form it will take, but the payoffs are going to be Amalgam, Narcomeba, and likely Haunted Dead. Amalgam is the only rare I’m interested in from this deck.

Pack Rat ($2/$7)

Amazingly, this has dodged a reprint all these years. People are going to start Pioneer off by rediscovering the hits of the past, and Pack Rat is one of the most resilient cards ever printed. I’m not sure if Mono-Black Devotion is going to be a thing (Or if Devotion returns when we go back to Theros in January) but the Rat was an integral piece to that deck. Thoughtseize is back up to $20, Collective Brutality is $13 (very tempting) but the discard suite is real in Pioneer, with Duress and Lay Bare the Heart likely the best options left.

Elder Deep-Fiend ($1/$2)

Wow did I hate this card in Standard, tapping my lands on my upkeep or tapping down blockers I was going to need. There’s a lot of lists floating around but the good news is that people want to chain these together, turn after turn, which means you’re playing the full four. As a small-set rare, there’s a lot less of these out there than you might expect, and it’s going to have a time where it spikes to $5 or more. Get your copies now, and feel free to hit up foils since they aren’t that much more expensive.

Kozilek’s Return ($2/$7)

The higher price on this is because it’s absurd in Commander, with the number of giant Eldrazi and the need to clean up the little ones. Yes, in case you forgot, this plays VERY well with the Deep-Fiend, and nonfoils should make it back up to $10 when people see this wreak havoc all over the place. 

Master of Waves ($2/$5/$2 Duel Deck foil)

Allow me to introduce you to a little combo I like to call “Oh no…oh yes”: 

Yes, this is a combo. There’s a lot of Elemental goodness to be had in Pioneer, such as Voice of Resurgence, but this is the build-around I’m fascinated with. The presence of a Duel Deck foil doesn’t faze me at all, because I know how well the Master does when you manage to draw more than one. People are going to play a lot of copies, and that’s to the good. Get your now before the camera shines and the spike hits.

Part the Waterveil ($1/$7)

What’s lovely about this card is that it’s going to give you an extra turn and hit your opponent like a truck, all at once. Yes, it exiles itself, but Nexus of Fate is legal in this format too. Waterveil is the best of the rest of the options for extra turns, unless you feel like going deep on Magistrate’s Scepter somehow. If you’ve never cast one of these with Awaken, you’re in for a good time, and dollar mythics almost never go lower. Grab a few now for when they hit big.

The Pioneer Creaturelands (fifty cents to $1.50 for nonfoils, $3-$7 foil)

There’s a lot of talk about what the manabases are for Pioneer, and so far, not enough people are addressing the creaturelands. Mutavault and Mobilized District are options too, but colorless lands need to be a bit better in this format, and all of these have seen some play when they were in Standard. 

I think the default ranking is going to be shocks-buddylands-fastlands, but please don’t sleep on these. All of them are still cheap, haven’t moved much, and haven’t been printed in several years. The good times are going to roll when all of these make it back up to $5+, and my guess would be for the BG and BW ones to be first.

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.