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Unlocked Pro Trader: I Forgot the Precons


I considered, as a bit, saying “I forgot the precons” a bunch of times in this article like they said “We bought a zoo!” in the movie “We Bought a Zoo.” I say “they” because I honestly don’t remember if it was Matt Damon or Brad Pitt. It was one of those two. Or Greg Kinnear. One of the three out of Matt Damon, Brad Pitt or Greg Kinnear. The point is, one of them, or Liev Schreiber maybe, I literally have no idea, but it’s one of those four, said “We bought a zoo!” every time something zooey happened. I think. I only saw the trailer. The point is, I forgot the precons.

I didn’t mean to, it’s just that last week we didn’t have data and this week we do, so I was all set to write the “We have data now!” article for the main set and I remembered I haven’t even TOUCHED the precon commanders. It’s cool, I remembered in time. While the precons are less ripe for giving us good specs, I think the top ones will have had enough cards removed and replaced that a consensus can start to form. Let’s see what we see, shall we? I forgot the precons.

This is the top 8 so far, but there are literally 30 Legendary creatures in this set of 5 decks and that’s… just so many. I like that Tor Wauki is currently winning, a lot, and I think it’s as good a place to start as any.

This is a pretty standard variation on the “Torbran turns a ping into a BANG” formula, and access to Black is very good. You wouldn’t know it from the High Synergy cards, but there are some high inclusions that deserve a look.

Perhaps then the foil?

This is a good card, a gorgeous if curly foil and a card that has flirted with $3 when it was getting played not at all. Obossh made people remember this card existed, Tor Wauki makes sure they never forget again.

Man, that was a sick sentence. I should write flavor text.

This is far from the best time to buy Sedgemoor Witch but it’s very far from the worse. I like this card a ton as I am beginning to like all Extended Art cards. This was basically the price of the regular frame for a while and a year on, this is how it looks. Just sayin.

If anything with Suspend on it ever gets cheap, buy a lot. Of all of the mechanics that seem to get broken and turn into free spells accidentally, Suspend seems to do it 5 times as often as anything else.

There will be a time when people stop caring that their copy of a Magic card is butt ugly because it’s a $16 copy of a $24 card. This isn’t there yet, but it’s rebounding already because this card is unfair. Both versions are under $5 right now and both are a buy.

Ditto. This version is more polarizing than ugly which should help the price of both, and both versions are too cheap, currently.

If someone is willing to sell you this powerful foil card for $1, you should take them up on it.

Here is Exhibit A, I could find an Exhibit B if you needed it, but I kind of feel like anyone who needed that would have acquitted OJ.

Fine, here is a card I told people to pick up at $1. Not bragging, just saying sometimes it’s so obvious even I catch it. This goes in the Hazezon deck but the nonfoil is trash, so consider foils when a new commander makes an old uncommon relevant.

Now THIS is a wild pile of cards, good gravy.

OK, kidding. I mean… kind of? Legends cards coming in Dominaria packs are going to be somewhat likely to spark some interest in the old set and with legendary status mattering to this absolute bat$*@# commander, some of the older stuff could move again. This card is old enough to have gray hair, there is something to be said for it not being actually unplayable since you can draw it with the middle ability on your Planeswalker commander that has a built in Insurrection you should probably be building to? I don’t know, what I do know is that the cards in this deck are all in the precon and people aren’t adding much and I wanted to finish with a whimper to give some other writers a crack at the title of “best article of the week” for a change.

I will go over more of the 70 Legendary creatures in this set next week because I am Magic’s Sisyphus. Thanks for reading, nerds. Until next time!


VOW Now and Later

Well, we’re deep into Crimson Vow, and prices have mostly settled down. 

We aren’t having a lot of paper events still, and so the casual cards are going crazy. This is because lots of people are buying the cards right away for their pet decks, and we aren’t getting a lot of Standard movement as yet. It’s interesting, the big events so far have all been Modern, not Standard. 

So let’s take a look at where some cards have gotten to, and where they might be going, based on Modern, Standard, or Commander appeal.

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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.

Graduating from the School of Mages

Believe it or not, there’s still a whole week until we can get the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms cards into our hands. It’s been up on Arena and MTGO for a week now, but still one more week for the paper versions! Granted, we’re not expecting this set to realign everything in Standard, and Modern Horizons 2 still has a lot of our financial attention.

Instead of trying to predict what will happen to Standard or the prices of AFR (hint, everything is going to fall) I want to look at the set that we’re leaving behind and evaluate what’s at its lowest point.

First of all, let’s take a quick peek at the current nonfoil prices, from top to $6:

Yes, there’s a couple of rares and an uncommon on that list. This set hasn’t exactly lit anything up, financially speaking, but that’s where some of the biggest value can lie, especially because paper events are going to take off again sometime soon. If these prices are where they are now, where might things go once an actual GP happens?

Let’s take a moment and look at the graph of Expressive Iteration: 

This uncommon is selling for more than 95% of the set’s rares and mythics. It’s not the first time something like that has happened in Magic’s history, but given the pandemic, and the small number of paper copies opened, and the prevalence of UR spells/tempo/blitz/whatever you want to call it, you’ve got a perfect storm for an expensive uncommon.

Expressive Iteration also has the FNM-type promo, and that’s one of the most expensive Promo Pack cards I’ve seen in a while. The presence of those versions might be what’s keeping the regulars and the pack foils under $10.

Here’s the question, though: What’s going to happen to these prices during the run-up to the first Modern GP? Iteration is a four-of in what looks to be a very popular deck, and a powerful one too, given the results on MTGO. We’re also getting Demilich in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, and that might be the final piece of the puzzle, one more solid and cheap creature for the spells deck.

I think we’re about to be in a world where Expressive Iteration is the most-played card from Strixhaven. Once paper events fire up again, I don’t think any copies will be under $10. Keep in mind that Strixhaven won’t rotate out of Standard until October of 2022, giving it a lot of time to shine. A reprint seems quite possible, but for right now, I think you get your copies cheap. 

The other card that sticks out from this list is Wandering Archaic // Explore the Vastlands. It’s only in 6600 EDHREC decks so far, but that’s a very high number for a card that only came out three months ago. It’s colorless, so can be put into any Commander deck, which means you have to have a reason to leave it out. It requires a tax, or an answer, things that I love doing to other people at the Commander table.

It’s already this popular after such a short period of time, and that bodes well for its future pricing. Archaic is at its lowest price so far, and I don’t think it’s done falling.

I would want to see the price start to trend back upward before I buy in on copies. There was a window to buy foil Extended Art copies around $20, and now those are up to $26. The nonfoil regulars being as low as $6 are a good sign, and looking at the most recent TCG sales, it’s got a lot of velocity. The 25 most recent sales for the regular nonfoils were all yesterday (It’s Thursday as I write this) and that bodes well. Lots of people are buying this, and that eats into the extensive amount of copies available. Give it another couple of weeks, I’d say, and you should be able to get some large quantities at $5 or perhaps even less.

Prismari Command is on here, at least the EA version, and that’s a card not seeing much Modern or Legacy play. It’s a very popular choice in Historic decks playing flavors of UR or Jeskai control. 

There’s a huge question about Historic vs. Pioneer that I don’t want to get into right now. Suffice it to say that Wizards has a strong interest in growing both formats and probably merging the two at some point. Standard will always be rotating and refreshing itself. Modern has a huge variety of decks and multiple sets that combine new cards and new reprints into the format. 

Historic and Pioneer represent a way to keep using your Standard cards even after rotation, which is a bigger deal online in Arena than it will be in paper. Remember at the end of 2019, when Pioneer combos and spikes were happening daily? Wizards would love to recapture that magic.

Prismari Command might be a key piece of such decks, and there’s a big gap between the FEA price ($11) and the pack nonfoil price ($4). Commander play isn’t a huge factor, at less than 4k decks, so you’re hoping for a lot of decks that want the mana and the draw two/discard two effect. The most basic version of Command was down to $3 about a month ago, so buying in now isn’t as attractive, but I think there’s a lot of room for growth, especially if lots of red-based decks switch to Dragon’s Rage Channeler over creatures with just plain Prowess.

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.

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.