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I have to admit, I didn’t give Oathbreaker a second thought when it came to my mind. I dismissed it as the new Tiny Leaders, as a flash in the pan.
I’ve come around, dear reader, and give me a moment to explain why.
Tiny Leaders, Brawl, and now Oathbreaker are trying to solve the main problem of Commander: games frequently become attrition wars that take forever. A variant of Commander that’s faster but retains the spirit of the original format will take off like mad.
Oathbreaker is the best so far at being the ‘quick Commander game’ variant, and we need to start paying attention.
Tiny Leaders flamed out because it got solved relatively rapidly, Elfball Ezuri and ‘I just want to die please end this tempo game’ Geist of Saint Traft decks quickly established their dominance, and because the format is restricted to the cheap spells, only the things that are cheap and powerful will cause innovation.
Oathbreaker also gets around one of the main restrictions in Commander: that only a handful of planeswalkers are legal to be your Commander. Yes, those are some powerful planeswalkers indeed, but players are enamored enough with the characters created that there’s been some pushing on the Commander Rules Committee to legalize all planeswalkers. So far, they’ve resisted (probably a good thing, especially given Teferi, Time Raveler) and now the presence of this alternate format is a real winner.
One of the things I like, and also am wary of, is the wide variety of interactions between the planeswalker and the signature spell. I don’t feel like doing the math, but it’s somewhere been a ton and a whole giant googleplex of potential interactions. Some very fun things are possible. Some very broken things are possible.
The combo I heard about immediately:
And then your deck is all lands. Yay?
Sure, there’s problems here. Everyone sees it coming, you can’t have countermagic, your face is now the magnet for everyone who can attack, etc. But it represents the problem of having a certain instant or sorcery always available to you.
With all that said, I like the format and am trying to turn my Warrior tribal Commander deck into an Oathbreaker deck. The aggro of Zurgo Helmsmasher just wasn’t getting there in the 40-life format, and I’m hoping that this is a better home for what I want to do.
EDHREC has jumped into the format, and we have some early lists. Unsurprisingly, there’s one Big Baddie who is all over the place: Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God.
The top spot, though, the most-built combination of a planeswalker and a single spell is likely going to surprise you:
Oh yeah, let’s get our howl on. There’s not quite enough Werewolves for a full Commander deck, Ulrich is a mediocre Commander, but this sort of lower-life, smaller-deck format is exactly what this tribe wants. Cheap, too, since Huntmaster of the Fells is the most expensive creature and if you avoid some obvious/expensive staples (Sylvan Library, etc.) you can build a good, synergistic, and fun deck. Moonmist as the signature spell is exactly what this format is about, too.
Financially, I’m into the key cards of the deck. Immerwolf is one of those, and as a $4 (in foil) uncommon that simply MUST be in any self-respecting Werewolf deck, I’d start there.
Tribal decks in general are going to be a popular choice, since you don’t need the same huge number as in Commander. There’s a few cards in particular that deserve to be thought about, especially because we know they aren’t in a Modern Masters this year, so they have to dodge Commander 2020 and Core Set 2020 (The Core Set not having a specific plane means they can toss in anything that won’t unbalance Standard too much, a potential pothole for any spec purchases!)
Can I interest you in some free creatures?
Path gets a lot of hype for big stuff like Eldrazi but it’s a card any tribal deck loves. Best friends with Mutavault, a card that ought to be in more decks but is pretty low in price due to all the GP versions floating around.
How about uncounterable creatures?
Cavern is a card I’ve mentioned before and just six months ago it was $45, right at release. If you need it, get it now, because it’s going to be $100 again relatively soon. There’s just too many different audiences that want this card, and hopefully this time they put it at rare in some set. Another printing at mythic will cause this same dent but not a meaningful reduction.
One more tribal card, a personal favorite:
This feels so very good to have in play. It triggers on token versions too, so if you have a blue/white Warriors deck, that Secure the Wastes is going to be good for a new hand. It’s the most expensive of the Kindred cycle, and for very good reason.
Some other cards to watch in this vein: Guardian Project, Metallic Mimic, Urza’s Incubator, and absolutely Path of Ancestry. Depending on what does and does not get printed by the end of August, these are the cards I’m watching and I’m getting ready to buy.
Oathbreaker’s focus on planeswalkers makes it a natural home for Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God, but I’m not ready to dive in on that yet. Narset, Parter of Wills is a card you should buy right now, for Oathbreaker reasons and for ‘taking over all the formats’ reasons. There’s no format where she’s bad, and I do believe that she’s the most expensive in-print uncommon we’ve ever had. Even Fatal Push didn’t get to more than $30 foil when it first came out, and Narset is at $50 in English foil.
If Narset decks take off in Oathbreaker, please spare a thought for Font of Mythos, Geier Reach Sanitarium, Jace’s Archivist, Lore Broker, and my personal favorite pick since it’s on the Reserved List: Anvil of Bogardan.
It’s spiked a couple of times and trickled back downwards. Right now there’s 110 copies on TCG but only 20 are Near Mint. Won’t take much to get this card to double up or more.
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.
It’s clear that Urza is the favorite deck to emerge from the new EDH Masters set called “Modern Horizons” and it’s not hard to see why. Him plus Paradox Engine plus a few other artifacts means you cast your whole deck pretty reliably and that’s pretty good. Artifacts are good, blue is good, both together is good. Urza is the Vannifar of the set but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a Teysa of the set, and I think I’ve found it.
EDHREC is on top of their game this go-around and since all of the cards are in Scryfall and people are building decks already, EDHREC is scraping data already. The integration with sites like Archidekt which let people make decks almost as soon as card are spoiled means we have data earlier, which is apparently something we need because people are jumping on EDH stuff way earlier than they used to. That’s fine, once we get over the feeling of missing out, it turns out those people miss a lot of stuff because they don’t know what they’re doing. Still plenty of money to be made by listening to people telling us what they’re actually doing. Let’s listen.
Behold! 26 decks – hardly a huge sample size but since we’re getting ideas and nothing else, it’s enough. We want to see if any tech is emerging and these early decks also have the benefit of informing later deckbuilders so actually these cards that may be erroneously over-represented now may actually make people more likely to play them and therefore fulfill their own prophecy. Archidekt integration with EDHREC means people can now build their deck with the suggestions from other decks right in front of them more easily than ever. It’s not that these suggestions are bad, but it does have a snowball effect as the first to get their ideas down on paper have an influence over every subsequent builder.
That said, enough editorializing about problems I personally helped create. Let’s make some money.
Not on the Reserved List but not exactly easy to reprint, either, this card is one the move and $3 is not where it’s going to stop, either. If you can still get these around the $1 they were for basically ever, you should be able to get out above $4 soon. The tipping point on these are coming and being an uncommon from Saga means there are fewer copies than there are copies of uncommons from recent sets with similar trajectories.
Ogre is more explosive, true, but Skirge Familiar is the only card like this in Black and with Yawgmoth’s ability to keep your hand full, you should have no shortage of garbage to pitch to turn into a spell, perhaps a big Exsanguinate. I think if a small number of people discovered Skirge Familiar, it’s going to go. In at $2, out at $5 seems reasonable to me.
Foils of this are falling but considering a foil is currently cheaper than a non-foil Masques copy, we could see some movement back up. This can go off constantly given your ability to proliferate a ton, and unlike a lot of Time Walk artifacts, you don’t have to “bank” a turn to make it work, so if there are 9 counters on it, just take 4 turns in a row and laugh. If you can’t manage to put 3 counters on it during those extra turns with Yawgmoth as your commander, you don’t deserve to win, anyway. I think Masques copies and m19 foils are both pretty good bets, especially since it spiked already on the basis of different cards and copies are more scarce in the wild.
You like this graph shape? I know that you do. I like it, also. This is the “reverse-J” shape that precedes the “U-shaped” graph that is a card recovering from a reprinting. This is obviously a battlebond reprinting based on the time the card’s price plummeted. Why no recovery yet? Was it rarity-shifted? Does it see less play? Was the set overprinted? No, no and no. This seems like an opportunity to me!
Here’s the culprit. I think Revenant is due for a slow climb back to maybe 2/3 of its pre-reprinting price if it’s not reprinted again given how powerful it is. Although people are latching on to the budget version, Crypt Ghast, Ghast is making a case for a higher price tag itself and anyone who is serious about building like redundancy more than they like budget alternatives to non-RL cards. They will buy both and so should you.
Ready for another guess?
Here is a card I have raised the alarum about on several occasions but never really bought into myself, which was foolish because I was right, this card is the truth and it’s only going to get better now that Yawgmoth is a sac outlet for the ages. You’ll like this reveal a lot.
This card is honestly probably not done growing despite having grown quite a bit. I feel like it should have gotten a commander deck reprint by now and it’s strange that it hasn’t, but when they finalized last year’s decks, like 18-24 months ago, this card was steady at $8 for a while. Can it grow more? Is it getting reprinted this year (I doubt it)? Time will tell. I like this card, though.
One last thing – Ultimate Masters didn’t really inject as many copies into the market as anyone expected and prices are really holding up. I wouldn’t wait to buy anything that got reprinted in that set, and this deck has quite a few.
Tower and Urborg are staples in any deck like this so grab them now. They’ll shrug off another reprint and they’re not going to get cheaper so it’s a real low risk buy.
That does it for me. Next week we will have more data so be sure to tune in. Until next time!
An exciting day today for Magic fans, although not in the same way it’s been for the last three weeks. We got two announcements today. The “London” mulligan rule that was previewed at the last Pro Tour is becoming permanent, with no changes, across all formats starting this summer. (We’ll talk a little bit more about that below.) Second, Netflix has announced an anime MTG project, spearheaded by the Russo brothers, of Avengers fame. Making the London mulligan rule official is going to have a quick impact on several card prices, and more over the next few months, as it settles into place, but that’s nothing compared to what the Netflix announcement could mean if the series is popular and drives a swarm of new players into the game.
Splendid Reclamation (Foil)
Price Today: $6.50 Possible Price: $15
Modern Horizons brought a ‘lands matter’ theme to the table, which we haven’t seen in earnest since, uh, Zendikar? And on top of that, they juiced the theme. Rioters is a legit card that will kill people in one shot, Wrenn and Six is the very first playable two-mana walker, and some of the other cards will have applications across a variety of formats as well. Inclusion of ‘lands matter’ has been well received, and between that and the cycling lands, Life from the Loam nearly doubled in price, and Lord Windgrace took the top spot as the most popular commander of the week.
With Lord Windgrace having such a great week on the back of Modern Horizons spoilers, I went looking for opportunity there, and to no surprise, I found some. Splendid Reclamation is the mass reanimation spell for lands from Eldritch Moon, a card that tickled our collective fancies when it was spoiled a few years ago. I had daydreams of it being a new and better Scapeshift, and while that hasn’t come to pass, EDH has certainly adopted the card. You’ll find it in nearly 7,000 decks on EDHREC right now, and that number will assuredly grow with each passing day.
Supply on foil Splendid Reclamations is mediumish, with about 50 or so pack foils at TCGPlayer right now, and another 20 in prerelease foils. Of course, more than half of that is at $8 or more, so some of your work is already done for you if you’re getting in at $6 or $6.50. With Windgrace’s continued popularity in EDH, where he sits in the top five or ten most popular commanders every week, and the upcoming addition of more fun ‘lands matter’ cards in Horizons, supply should start to drain at a brisk rate.
Eldritch Evolution (Foil)
Price Today: $15 Possible Price: $30
As mentioned above, WotC officially announced that the London mulligan rule is going permanent. Almost immediately Dan Fournier, talented Magic pro, MTG Fast Finance guest, and comrade made a comment that he’s glad he already has his Allosaurus Riders. When I asked him about the Allosaurus Riders/Neoform deck, his exact response was “its pretty unplayable without, and pretty unbeatable with, the london mulligan [rule].” Well, ok. It sounds like Neoform decks are going to be at the tables in the near future, at least at the outset. Will they perform? Hard to say, but that’s a strong statement from a knowledgeable player.
Given that, where do we go? There’s several components of the deck worth considering, but this isn’t a brand new concept. Allosaurus Rider spiked when Neoform was spoiled. Copies are around $10 right now, and honestly are possibly going to double, but that’s a real big gamble to take. If you’re testing the deck and finding it as good as advertised with the London mulligan rule, then by all means, jump in, but without that sort of research, I’d stay away. Chancellor of the Tangle is another potential target, but the supply runs deep. I find Eldritch Evolution to be the most appealing at the moment. It’s one of the eight combo pieces required to go off, and has significant crossover appeal with both other Modern decks, and EDH, where it’s reported in over 6,000 lists.
As the demand for Evolution is distributed, this is sort of a split play. If the Neoform deck really does see any play, we can expect these relatively affordable foils to move. At the same time, people are going to keep wanting copies for EDH, and the supply isn’t deep at all. Between those two factors, I anticipate copies bleeding off somewhere between “overnight” and “a few months.”
Price Today: $35 Possible Price: $60
This is certainly the most speculative purchase on this list. Paradox Engine is absurdly popular in EDH, to the point that it may be in discussion as a possible ban target. Until it is banned though, it’s going to be in a lot of decks (13,000 as of today). It’s also a great casual card, where players perpetually live in magical christmas land.
Why talk about it today? Urza, Lord High Artificer. He well may be the strongest card in Modern Horizons for Modern, which is definitely saying something. Turning all your artifacts into mana rocks is no joke, and his Mind’s Desire ability stapled onto the card is a solid win condition, as it lets you cast every spell in your deck should you happen to find infinite mana. Oh, how do you make infinite mana? Well probably with several artifacts and Paradox Engine. It’s possible Urza may lead to another Eggs style deck, as a replacement for Krark-Clan Ironworks. Instead of building loops to sacrifice your artifacts to generate mana, you resolve Urza, tap all your Wellsprings for mana, cast Paradox Engine, resolve one more Bauble, and you’re off to the races.
On top of that there’s EDH, where Urza is going to draw a solid cross-section of Vorthos’ and Mels, who love that they finally get to have Magic’s in-universe grandfather, possibly the most iconic figure in all of Magic lore, as their commander; spikes, who see Urza as an inherently busted commander; and Johnnys, who see a cool combo card and were building some Rube Goldberg ass machines in their heads as soon as the spoiler popped up.
With a price tag of $35 to $40, buy-in is not cheap. At the same time, that price tag is supported completely on casual play and existing EDH demand. How much will Urza push Engine in two formats, one that it’s completely new to? I don’t know, but Doubling Season has been a $60+ card with a reprint or two in the past.
Travis Allen has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994, mostly in upstate New York. Ever since his first FNM he’s been trying to make playing Magic cheaper, and he first brought his perspective to MTGPrice in 2012. You can find his articles there weekly, as well as on the podcast MTG Fast Finance.
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