Category Archives: Watchtower

Pro Trader: Will Liliana Break Pioneer?

The announcement that Liliana of the Veil will soon be legal in Pioneer made Magic boomers everywhere rejoice! Liliana has long epitomized the good old days of magic, in which accruing value and 1-for-1’ing your opponent was a winning strategy.  

For those who haven’t played with this iconic necromancer, Liliana is a strong card because if you build your deck properly you can break its symmetry through discarding recursive threats, cards with flashback, or things that will later be reanimated. Its -2 forces your opponent to sacrifice a creature is important too – as is the ultimate if you can get to it – and when combined Liliana is a very well-rounded card indeed.

Power creep is real and whether Liliana is good enough in 2022 Magic is an open question. Most on social media assume Liliana will become a centerpiece of various strategies going forward – I tend to agree since Rakdos is already one of the best decks – but its success will depend on its tools, so let’s check out the cards that may benefit from Liliana’s inclusion in Pioneer.

Discard Spells

It’s rare to see Liliana played without targeted discard spells like Thoughtseize. This approach makes a lot of sense – the target hand destruction clears the way – permitting Liliana to land on turn three causing havoc to your opponent’s plans. While Thoughtseize may not be an actionable speculation target since we’re so far away from its most recent printing, those who are holding old border TSR reprints may be rewarded based on the additional demand for the best discard spell in the game.

Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger

Kroxa is a very strong card in its own right, but it gets even more powerful when you can pitch it into the graveyard for free while costing your opponent a card. Even better, Liliana fills up your graveyard, giving you the ammunition to escape Kroxa reliably. Current Rakdos Midrange builds in pioneer currently run one copy of Kroxa – I could see this expanding to two copies going forward in Liliana builds.      

Tenacious Underdog

The effectiveness of Tenacious Underdog will depend on the match-up. If your opponent is a combo deck, Tenacious Underdog likely doesn’t make the cut. But on the other hand, if you’re playing against a control deck, Tenacious Underdog can provide you with a threat that is resistant to removal and draws you an extra card every turn in the late game for four mana. When you pitch this to Liliana – you remove the mopey 3/2 creature and only heavily rely on the value of a free graveyard threat. This approach is much more effective and permits pilots to run 2-3 copies without too much risk, as opposed to the single copy that is typically run in current Rakdos builds.

Ob Nixilis, the Adversary

Ob Nixilis is getting a new fresh round of hype as people consider combining Liliana’s discard requirement with Ob Nixilis’s +1 ability. While Ob Nixilis is seeing a small amount of play in Pioneer currently in both main and sideboards, I’m a bit skeptical that two planeswalkers with the same mana value will gel together in the same deck. While both Liliana and Ob Nixilis are good in their own right, I’m just not sure they will be good together. I can see the potential synergies, but we’ll see.

Deathrite Shaman

Could Liliana make the powerful “1 mana planeswalker” playable in pioneer, i.e. Deathrite Shaman? I’m skeptical but would love to see it. One of the challenges with Deathrite is that fetch lands are banned in Pioneer. This leaves cards that barely see play like Fabled Passage as the only “fetch” option. But some Abzan Greasefang builds have been running four copies of Deathrite already – granted these versions of the deck are very fringe at this point. Perhaps when combined with Liliana, you could make Deathrite work for real as a mix of ramp, graveyard hate, and life gain. Doubt it, but could be fun.

A much less played variant of Abzan Greasefang.

 Greasefang, Okiba Boss

Speaking of Greasefang, its namesake stands to benefit tremendously from Liliana being legal in Pioneer. Providing a consistent discard outlet that is also a solid card overall would provide a lot to this deck that runs questionable cards like Raffine’s Informant. Liliana would permit pitching both vehicles (Parhelion II and Esika’s Chariot) plus Can’t Stay Away, which provides value with its flashback option.  

Unlicensed Hearse

Unlicensed Hearse is good under normal circumstances, providing main board hate to Pioneer decks like Greasefang, Phoenix, among others. But being able to come down on turn two followed by Liliana on turn three providing graveyard fodder forever compliments each other very well.  

Boost to Mono-Black Value?

It seems like forever ago now, but for a long time, Mono Black value was one of the top decks around, with these value cards being a core part of the deck. Liliana does a great job taking advantage of these cards’ ability to be cast from the graveyard. I’m not sure if that’s enough to combat the other big things happening in Pioneer at the moment, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

The four-drop spot stop in black decks is someone lacking currently. There are some powerful planeswalkers that play a supporting role, but very few cards provide as much value as Kalitas, which only gets better under Liliana. Currently when you play Kalitas you have to untap to gain incremental value. With Liliana on the board, you can play Kalitas and immediately -2 Liliana, gaining you a 2/2 zombie while exiling your opponent’s threat.     

Will Grixis Ever Become Viable?

I’m always shocked at how little play Treasure Cruise sees in Pioneer. I’m hoping against all odds that Liliana’s inclusion in Pioneer makes some new archetypes competitive, like Grixis featuring value cards like Treasure Cruise (due to filling up your graveyard), alongside cards like Nicol Bolas. I doubt it, but here’s to hoping!

Oko (@OkoAssassin) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2020 with a focus on competitive play and Magic Online. In his personal life Oko is a lawyer, father, ice-hockey player, runner, and PC gamer.

Unlocked Pro Trader: Succinct Selections

When life gets hectic, sometimes it’s better to cut a few corners to produce something, rather than skipping it altogether. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good, as they say. I’m moving to a new home this week so instead of delivering a comprehensive theme, I’m going to quickly share a few selections I’ve been watching personally and discuss the reasons behind my interest in each. Without further ado, let’s jump in!

Silence (Old Border Foil)

Arbitrage: $30 in EU, $60 in the USA

I didn’t realize that Silence was such a widely played EDH card until I sold an old border foil (OBF) from TSR for $60! This price was much more than I was expecting, which got me to evaluate this card more closely. It’s in an impressive 50,000 decks on Based on this, it should come as no surprise that the OBF version is doing so well!

Fortunately, for those of you with access to the EU markets there are copies of the TSR OBFs still available for around $30 each, which is less than the CardKingdom buylist currently at $42 cash. OBFs have been selling at a modest but steady rate on – so if you’re able to source cheap copies – you’ll likely have no problem making a quick buck on this card.  

Vanishing Verse (Foil Extended Art)

Current Price: $7.50
Potential Price: $18 in 18 months
Confidence: 7/10
Disclosure: N/A

Vanishing Verse is a solid removal spell, but its color requirements make it more challenging to include. Despite this in Pioneer it hits most creatures and several important planeswalkers and has been seeing quite a bit of play. As a result, Vanishing Verse is currently being run in Niv to Light, Esper Control, and Greasefang, among other archetypes. While I normally don’t like to spec on removal cards because they historically get replaced with more impactful spells over time – it seems to me that Vanishing Verse should have a few more years in the spotlight before it’s overshadowed in Pioneer. In Commander, it’s not an all-star but it’s in a respectable number of decks on at 11,275. Being two colors limits its ceiling – but these are still reasonable statistics when combined with its competitive play.

Vanishing Verse could easily be reprinted into a future commander deck due to the low price for the basic version of this card, which is why I would prioritize the Foil Extended Art versions of this card for any long-term speculation. We are roughly 16 months past Strixhaven’s release date, so new supply on this set should be relatively limited going forward and only 21 vendors currently have this version in stock.

Prismari Command (Foil Extended Art)

Current Price: $9.50
Potential Price: $20 in 18 months
Confidence: 7/10
Disclosure: N/A

Many of the same points about Vanishing Verse apply to Prismari Command, which is in a similar number of decks on decks – at 17,819. It also sees competitive play, but instead in Modern which is a larger driver of card prices in general. It typically sees play in archetypes that lean on its ability to either dump cards in the graveyard or to create treasure tokens, with the other two modes providing helpful support and flexibility. Most recently Indomitable Creativity lists have been running three to four copies of Prismari Command consistently. Despite seeing slightly more play in both casual and competitive formats, Prismari Command has more availability on than Vanishing Verse, with around 50 vendors having it in stock, which is surprising. Going forward I think Prismari Command will continue to see reasonable demand that will slowly drain its supply and pressure its price over time.

Oko (@OkoAssassin) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2020 with a focus on competitive play and Magic Online. In his personal life Oko is a lawyer, father, ice-hockey player, runner, and PC gamer.

Following a Few Clues from Goblin Charbelcher

The Modern Showcase Qualifier this weekend featured two Goblin Charbelcher (“Belcher”) decks in the top 8 from users victorjcoll1 and ZYX_Jerry. While Showcase Qualifiers are smaller, relatively high-stake events, in which the winner earns a spot in the Champions Showcase with its prize pool of $70,000 and a Pro Tour (Season 1) or World Championship (Season 2–3) invitation. A complete metagame breakdown can be found here. While Belcher decks pop up from time to time, it was very interesting to see not one but two in the top 8 for a premium MTGO tournament. This article takes a deep dive into the key cards of this deck that are run in multiple formats, which you may want to consider picking up sooner rather than later.

Below is the 7th place version of the Belcher deck from MTGO User victorjcoll1.

Goblin Charbelcher decks have had their ups and downs over the last year. Despite having success, many thought they would fade after the printing of the ultimate fair land destruction spell, Boseiju, Who Endures, which is a two-mana stone rain against Belcher. Critics of this deck were correct that Boseiju would see a large amount of play. It is currently the 5th most popular land in the Modern format, being included in 37% of decks, typically with two copies. But those critics apparently incorrectly assumed that Boseiju, or its predecessors like Cleansing Wildfire or Field of Ruin, would be enough to keep this highly unfair deck down.  

Many cards in the Belcher come and go but are not essential to the strategy, or are too narrow and are only good in Belcher decks to be trustworthy (I’m looking at you Irencrag). But there are several cards in this archetype that have cross-format appeal and deserve a much closer investigation.

Pact of Negation (Non-Foil)

Current Price: $10
Potential Price: $20 in 18 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: I own 33 copies.

Pact of Negation is a key card in several combo decks. Its purpose is obvious, allowing you to win the game during the turn it’s played, or alternatively, in the late game it’s an expensive awkward counter that is typically only used against a top threat. For decks like Belcher, it allows you to push through an opponent’s hate to combo off and win the game with very little downside!

In Modern Pact of Negation also plays an important role in Ad Nauseam, Storm, and Neobrand. All are very unfair combo decks that lean into what Pact of Negation does best. In Commander, Pact of Negation does extremely well too. It’s included in 74,500 decks on, which is about 10% of all blue decks!

Another reason I like Pact of Negation is because of its strong price history. The A25 version also fell to around $10 about a year after its reprinting, but then proceeded to climb to $40 before it was announced in Timespiral Remastered (TSR), combined with being in “The List” for a while. It’s hard to believe, but TSR was released in March 2021, nearly a year and a half ago. While supply is still fairly deep, Pact’s price has been holding steady thus far, and in my opinion, it’s only a matter of time until Pact of Negation begins to climb again!

Valakut Awakening (Foil Extended Art)

Current Price: $10
Potential Price: $20 in 18 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: I own 40 copies.

For the low cost of coming into play tapped, Valakut Awakening is able to selectively cycle away your dead cards and land in exchange for fresh new cards. At instant speed no less and it replaces itself! It is no surprise to see this card seeing competitive play, but typically decks run one or two copies as a backup plan like Omnath or Living End. But here, Belcher is running a full four copies! Love to see it. It has also recently been seeing Pioneer play in Jund Transmogrify and other Indomitable Creativity shells.

On top of seeing competitive play, Valakut Awakening is in 67,000 decks on This significant amount of commander play, combined with the Modern and Pioneer, is why I selected the premium version of this card. It’s unlikely that a better card filter card will be printed anytime soon that accomplishes the same flexibility as Valakut Awakening with such few downsides. Assuming a lack of premium reprint, all versions of this card should continue to climb.

Mythic Zendikar Rising Lands

A lot has been written about the Mythic Zendikar Rising lands since their release and this deck provides one more example why you should own a reasonable number of these lands. Some have missed their best entry points, but not all. They are essential for strategies like Belcher but are also role players in countless other decks and are strong EDH cards too.

Watch List: An Offer You Can’t Refuse (Promo Pack: Streets of New Capenna)

Current Price: $8

You may have noticed this sneaky little card is included as one copy in this Belcher list. An Offer You Can’t Refuse in many situations emulates a one-mana negate. For now, Belcher is one of the only consistently strong decks that include it. But at least one other fringe deck, Song of Creation storm, runs a full playset. While I’m not sold yet on An Offer You Can’t Refuse becoming extremely prevalent in competitive circles, I do think it’s worth keeping an eye on to see how it’s being incorporated in decks going forward. I could easily see this card becoming more mainstream, juicing demand for this card.

Turning to EDH, this card is in an astounding 35,000 decks on, which is extremely high for a set that released in April. To put that into perspective Swan Song is in 145,000 decks. At this rate, An Offer You Can’t Refuse is on track to be a mega staple in Commander.

Another question that is outstanding on this card is when will be peak supply? This version comes out of Promo Pack from Streets of New Capenna. It’s unclear to me whether we are currently in peak supply or if a solid amount of new inventory is coming to the market soon.

For now I’m keeping an eye on it, but don’t be surprised if you see it as a future pick.

Oko (@OkoAssassin) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2020 with a focus on competitive play and Magic Online. In his personal life Oko is a lawyer, father, ice-hockey player, runner, and PC gamer.

Obvious is Easy, But Still Good

I’m back this week with more Modern talk! Last week we discussed how the Modern format still has an impact on card prices, despite less extensive paper play. This week we’ll consider a few more key role players, all of whom have proven to be resilient in the metagame over the last year. Each of these cards is a Modern Horizons 2 (MH2) mythic rare, which helps ensure that their price floor is reasonably high. If you look at the current price of all mythics from original Modern Horizons, the lowest priced card is around $5.00, meaning that even if the metagame shift, these cards are unlikely to lose most of their value.

Murktide Regent (Non-Foil)
30th Most Frequently Played Card in Modern  
7th Most Frequently Played Creature in Modern

Current Price: $16
Potential Price: $35 in 18 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: N/A

Murktide is a known quantity. It’s been dominating Modern and Legacy for a while. It’s the best at what it does, which is sticking a very fast clock for a small amount of mana. Despite its continued success, Murktide’s price remains near its historical low due to new supply entering the market. One factor that has helped suppress the price of Murktide over time is the possibility that it could get banned in either Modern or Legacy. While this is possible, I don’t think a Modern ban is in the cards anytime soon (if anything, Omnath would be the first target). WOTC has taken a hands-off approach to Modern lately, so I’m not worried unless the metagame becomes even more heavily skewed in favor of Blue/Red Murktide. In Legacy, I do think a ban could be possible, but even if that occurred, I don’t think it would be anything more than a blimp on Murktide’s price trajectory. Legacy’s impact on paper cards is nominal these days, especially for a basic no frill version.

Like most other MH2 cards, I’m not sure whether Murktide Regent is already at its price floor or whether it will continue to decline through December, but personally, I plan to start moving in on these cards slowly over the next five months until the end of the holiday season.  

Archon of Cruelty (Non-Foil)

Current Price: $11
Potential Price: $25 in 18 months
Confidence: 8/10
Disclosure: I own a few copies. 

Archon of Cruelty has come and gone in several different shells already. Current decks that run it include Five-Color Indomitable Creativity, which has seen the most success, Esper reanimator, Dimir Control, and more. What unifies these shells is that Archon of Cruelty is the best creature threat to cheat into play at the moment, even better than Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in decks that have both options, which is a bit absurd honestly. How does an 8-mana mana value card compete with the biggest baddie of them all? Much of Archon’s success can be attributed to it having an enter-the-battlefield (ETB) effect that has the potential to be a 3-1. And if it lives, the effect compounds. That’s pretty back-breaking. The original Archon shells were more fragile, but over time they have built-in resiliency and more redundancy.

On top of Modern play, Archon of Cruelty is in 13,677 decks on This is solid for a mythic from MH2, trailing only Ragavan and Sword of Hearth and Home. So even if Modern doesn’t apply enough pressure to Archon, over time Commander may take care of the job on its own.

Grist (Non-Foil)  

Current Price: $6
Potential Price: $15 in 18 months
Confidence: 7/10
Disclosure: N/A   

A strong three mana planeswalker that is played as a full four copies in a top-tier deck? Sign me. Grist was clearly designed to be a strong, yet unique card. It seems to have succeeded in both – being limited generally to one type of deck, but is able to be very strong in that deck. The mix of uniqueness combined with power reminds me a bit of Urza, Lord High Artificer, except of course that Urza was designed to be crazy powerful while Grist is a value card. But neither can be just thrown into a random deck – they both require build around synergies.

It’s hard to evaluate whether Grist’s ability to be a create when not on the battlefield will ever be more useful than it is today. I could see a world where Green Sun Zenith gets unbanned, forcing Grist’s price to spike hard. But this is not a scenario that I would want to rely on, it’s rather icing on the cake. I could also see a world where a two-card combo comes together that allows Grist to efficiently mill one’s entire deck via its +1 ability, but that seems even more unreliable to count on.  

Grist is run in 7,100 decks on, plus an additional 2,235 decks as a commander! While these numbers are too low to be the basis of a speculation target, they do help Grist a bit here.  

Watch List: Hydroid Krasis (Etched Foil)   

Did you see that epic steamer Kanister ran a full four copies of Hydroid Krasis in his 6th place (two main, two sideboard) list during the recent Modern Challenge as part of Amulet? And he wasn’t the only one.

Is Hydroid Krasis, once the terror of Standard, getting a second life in Modern? My guess is this innovation will be a flash in the pan that won’t be around in a few months. Amulet, more than other decks, seems to “find” new tools and then forget about them quickly. Some stick around like Cultivator Colossus, while others go by the wayside.  

My advice here is to keep an eye on Amulet decks for the next few months – and if Krasis continues to do well – then consider picking up some of the Double Masters 2022 Etched-Foils, which are unique, much rarer than other editions, and fairly gorgeous.

Oko (@OkoAssassin) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2020 with a focus on competitive play and Magic Online. In his personal life Oko is a lawyer, father, ice-hockey player, runner, and PC gamer.