The Watchtower 09/21/20 – Pushing Paper

A tier 1 ramp deck? In MY Standard format? It’s more likely than you think. Turns out Lotus Cobra and Omnath are busted in Standard and there will never be a good aggro deck again – who could’ve predicted it? Zendikar Rising has already shaken up not just Standard, but older formats as well. So far we’ve seen a landless Belcher deck storm the MTGO Modern leagues with a tonne of the new MDFCs, as well as UB 8-Crab Mill taking first place in the Modern challenge – and we haven’t even hit actual release day yet.

Outside of the US at least, paper tournaments and LGS play have started picking up again, which means that cardboard for more competitive formats is starting to move again – so let’s take a look at where we stand.

Eladamri’s Call (Foil)

Price today: $10
Possible price: $25

Eladamri’s Call has long been a staple in Devoted Druid decks, to fish out whichever combo piece you need at the time. It’s also in 21k EDH decks registered on EDHREC, popular with both the competitive and more casual commanders…but we know all this. So why am I talking about it now?

Well, it’s started showing up in a lot more Modern decks over the past couple of weeks. There’s a new Titan variant on the block, with no Amulets but 32 lands and a bunch of creatures that help ramp out an early Titan. Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, Elvish Reclaimer and Eladamri’s Call are all 4-ofs in the deck, with extra 1-of utility creatures for Eladamri’s Call to find when needed. There’s also a Valakut package along with 4 Flagstones of Trokair; this deck really has a lot going on.

We’re also seeing new Devoted Devastation builds featuring Lurrus as a Companion, which honestly really doesn’t require much sacrifice from the deck at all to play. The decks are a streamlined combo, with 4 Eladamri’s Call and 4 Finale of Devastation to help find your pieces. Finally, the Soulherder deck has also been putting up some decent results here and there, also playing 4 Eladamri’s Call and a popular tier 2 choice.

Original Planeshift NM foils of this card barely exist, and A25 and MH1 copies are drying up too. Starting at around $10 on TCGPlayer, there are only 12 sellers with NM A25s and 13 with MH1s. They’re the same art and border, so relatively interchangeable here, but both are headed over $20 in fairly short order. The refreshed Modern demand backed by EDH play means that without a reprint in the next few months (which seems doubtful), the cheaper copies of this will be snapped up and it’ll be $25 before long.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den (EA Foil)

Price today: $30
Possible price: $50

Speaking of Lurrus, despite the change to the Companion rule after Ikoria’s release, Lurrus has remained the most popular of the Companions, both as a Companion and as a maindeck card. Incredibly, it’s actually sitting as the third most popular creature being played in Modern right now (the top two spots being taken by Uro and Monastery Swiftspear), and takes seventh place in the Pioneer ranking too.

In decks like Devoted Devastation it can just be a fairly free inclusion in the Companion spot, and decks like Bogles and the BR Prowess deck have been playing it for a while now. In Pioneer the WB Auras deck is still playing Lurrus and putting up results here and there, as well as the Young Pyromancer / Dreadhorde Arcanist builds utilising the card to good effect. Overall, it looks like Lurrus is here to stay, with it and Yorion really being the only two companions to survive the nerfing.

I didn’t want to pick regular copies here, mostly because more often than not players are only going to need one copy of this card to play as their Companion, which doesn’t move the needle nearly as much as if people need playsets. Extended Art foils, however, are in much lower supply, with only 16 listings on TCGPlayer. There are only a couple of copies under $30, and this is one less common instance where they’re actually more expensive in Europe. This could be indicative of lower Collector Booster supply in Europe, but also that players are picking them up for tournament/LGS play now that COVID restrictions are being relaxed in Europe. Either way, I think that getting these at $30 in the US is a sure thing to hit $50 within 6-12 months.

Thoughtseize (Borderless Foil)

Price today: $33
Possible price: $55

Moving onto an even more popular card, Thoughtseize is currently the second most played card in Pioneer and fifth most played card in Modern. That’s card, not just spell, by the way. It’s long been a Modern staple and has been at the forefront of Pioneer since the format’s inception, played in almost every deck that can cast it in both formats.

Borderless box topper foils from Double Masters featured a stunning new art for the card, and so besides original Lorwyn foils (which are obviously the best correct choice), these are probably the ‘most pimp’ copy for players looking to upgrade their decks – and they can do so at not such an unreasonable cost.

The foils are still running pretty close in price to the non-foils, and besides any curling worries (which I haven’t seen much of from 2XM box toppers), the foils are going to be the obvious choice for a lot of players. That’s going to push foil prices up above non-foils, and slowly but surely inventory is going to drain out. We may well see more future printings of Thoughtseize, but it went almost three years between the IMA and 2XM prints, and so I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least another two years go by before it’s printed again. And even when it is reprinted, I doubt we’ll see it with the box topper treatment again, so these borderless beauties will probably be safe. It might be a longer road on this one (think 12-24months rather than 6-12), but I have no doubt that these will get there.

David Sharman (@accidentprune on Twitter) has been playing Magic since 2013, dabbling in almost all formats but with a main focus on Modern, EDH and Pioneer. Based in the UK and a new writer for MTGPrice in 2020, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.

The Gist of The List

Zendikar Rising has arrived online, and paper versions can be played with this weekend, prerelease style. Vendors have started to get their allocations of cards too, and are cracking them to fulfill presale orders on Sept. 25.

There’s one subset of this experience that has more significance than new cards: The List, that set of 300 reprints that is only available in these Set Boosters. We need to talk about what’s on The List, how the prices will be affected, and what to expect going forward.

First of all, let’s examine MaRo’s words about Set Boosters. I like the concept, it’s for people who like cracking a pack for the experience, for the neat things. Drafting isn’t always conducive to that behavior, and now we have an in-between for the workhorse Draft Booster and the super-bling Collector Booster. 

Plus we have a 5% chance of a minigame!

The List represents an extension of the Mystery Booster experiment: how many copies of a card need to enter circulation for the price to actually go down? I’ve written before about the joy of the Mystery experience, and I sold out of the playtest cards too early, but the concept is great. Reprints are good for accessibility.

Mystery Booster: Convention Edition represents a good reference point for this level of reprint. If you’ll recall, there were 14 slots of regular cards and one slot for the Playtest cards. Each of those slots pulled from its own sheet of 121 cards. So to get a Mystery Booster edition of Purphoros, God of the Forge, you’d have to open, on average, 121 packs. 

Mystery Booster was first revealed in November 2019, and that engine really got going in the following four months, coming to a screeching halt in March 2020. You can see that the original Theros copies did take a hit, being down about $7 from its high around $23. That’s for a mythic from Theros, and while there’s been a Secret Lair, there hasn’t been a lot of reprint to this and the demand is middling, being in about 18,000 Commander decks online.

Let’s look at a true Commander staple. “Did you pay the one?” is asked by 64k decks online and likely it’s used even more often that than that, causing chaos, eye twitches, and lectures from the table:

Rhystic Study hasn’t flinched at all. Jumpstart hasn’t made a dent either. It’s just going up and will keep going up. Clearly the demand for the card has outpaced this meager increase in supply. It’s quite possible that if Rhystic Study had NOT been in Mystery booster, it would be a $35-$40 card. We can’t know what the price would have been, but a slow increase during the reprint time is a sign of strong demand.

What about weaker demand? Let’s take Recruiter of the Guard, which was a rare in Conspiracy 2, so there’s not a lot out there. It’s in about 9,000 decks online, but can be a very useful combo piece in the right deck:

We see that it was riding high, hitting nearly $30, but the reprint has lowered it to the $14 range, beginning in November when the first Mystery was getting opened.

That makes sense, thinking about the use cases of the cards. If you open a Rhystic, you think, “Hey, I have a Commander deck that can use this! Let’s sleeve it up.” If you open Recruiter, it’s much more narrow in application and you’re more likely to sell/trade it. The effect is more and more noticeable as you go down the list of Mystery Booster cards and cross-reference that with amount of play on EDHREC. Constructed staples (Manamorphose, Path to Exile, etc.) stood a decent chance at recovering until the pandemic shut down paper play, but casual cards are still selling well all over the Internet.

So now that we have an idea of what happens to prices when there’s 1 copy in about every 121 packs (roughly 1 per five boxes), let’s look at Set Boosters and The List.

We get a card from The List 25% of the time. Literally a 1 in 4 chance. Then you have the 1 in 300 chance of getting a specific card. Statistics and probability are not the same as reality, but on average, you’re going to have to open 1200 packs to get one of a certain card from The List. At 30 packs/box, that means 40 boxes. That is roughly nine times less common than Mystery Booster’s rate of giving you a certain card. 

Nine times! And this is for a subset of boosters that I’m sure people will draft with, when there’s stores open for drafting and if the boxes all arrive on time!

It’s also worth mentioning that according to BenB over at Star City Games, Wizards put the word out that The List’s frequency would be affected by the rarity of the cards involved. More of the commons, less of the mythics, like usual. 

However, the unboxing videos so far do not reflect this, so more data or more clarification is needed. The List is unbalanced, having 35 mythics, 139 rares, 85 uncommons, and 41 commons. That doesn’t reflect price, as Rhystic Study is at common. 

My point here is that I’m not worried about The List as a reprint engine, at least for Zendikar Rising. If I had a stack of The Chain Veil in my spec box, I’d still be fine with a hold, or go ahead and sell some. The key, as always, is to look at how popular the card is. The List is going to be more of an exercise in reflecting how people think about a reprint as opposed to adding a meaningful number of cards to a certain supply. 

Being on The List means less than being an Invention. Less than an FNM promo. Less than a Buy-a-Box. Less than Mystery Booster. I’m not going to let The List affect me until I see some data otherwise, because the information we’ve been given works out to a very small quantity and therefore shouldn’t affect prices.

This may change going forward. Wizards might decide that this is too incremental, and juice the drop rates, or decrease the number of cards on The List, or add foils to the mix. Can’t predict what they will do in the time of COVID-19. But if you have cards from what is now The List, I wouldn’t panic. You’ll be fine.

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.

Unlocked Pro Trader: Stapling… 6 Decks Together?


Last week I wrote what I think was some pretty riveting stuff and this week I’m writing a sequel, but like a sequel that was better than the first one, like Aliens or Terminator 2 or Leonard Part 6. If you didn’t read last week’s article, or if you’d like to refresh your memory, give it another read right now and we can call that the preamble part of this article. If you’re about to crash headlong into a paywall you didn’t know was there, last week’s piece is unlocked already, just like every new article is unlocked on Thursday so everyone can get these sweet picks.

This week I’m going to use the same three commanders but since we have another week of data collection, I’m going to re-populate the lists because we’ve had another week of data collection. Now, the odds that a card that’s great in all 3 decks or even two of them wasn’t conceived of a week ago and is now in enough decks to make all three lists is so remote it’s not worth discussing, but I feel like it wouldn’t be scientific to collect as much data as we can. I talked mostly about Green cards last week so this week, I’m going to look at cards that aren’t necessarily mono-Green and therefore not necessarily in Ashaya.

While we’re talking about changes since last week, let’s look at the number of decks.

Since last week, Omnath went from 84 to 133, an increase of 58%, Ashaya went from 13 to 20 decks, an increase of 54% and Phylath went from 8 to 14 decks, an increase of 75%. None of these numbers are crazy, but Ashaya slipped from #2 to #5 and Phylath slipped from #6 to #9 with the addition of Akiri, a very popular card. I wouldn’t read a TON into Akiri coming out of nowhere since basically the same number of people made an Akiri deck as an Orath deck, they just had one fewer week to do it.

Right now, Omnath still reigns supreme, which may or may not hold. What matters to me is the cards in more decks than just Omnath, though, so let’s take a look.

Having redone the three lists, I decided to look just at cards in both Omnath and Phylath. Yes, there are more Ashaya decks than Phylath decks and Green is common to all 3, but I want to avoid overlooking any Red or Gruul cards. Are there any?

Arid Mesa
Blasphemous Act
Bloodstained Mire
Broken Bond
Chaos Warp
Cinder Glade
Command Tower
Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
Escape to the Wilds
Fury of Akoum
Gruul Turf
Heart of Keld
Khalni Heart Expedition
Locus of Rage
Mina and Denn
Nahiri’s Lithoforming
Rhythm of the Wild
Roiling Regrowth
Sakura-Tribe Scout
Scalding Tarn
Scute Swarm
Seer’s Sundial
Swiftfoot Boots
Temur Sabertooth
Terramorphic Expanse
Tunneling Geopede
Valakut Exploration

Blasphemous Act, Chaos Warp, Mourag (on the list as both Mourag and Fury of Akoum because the list tool does not know what to do with proper names separated by a comma), Omnath Locus of Rage, Mina and Denn, Radha, Heart of Keld and Valakut Exploration.

This is slated for reprint (along with Admonition Angel, which is ALSO in Secret Lair, RIP) in the “Land’s Wrath” EDH precon for the set, and that may or may not drastically impact the price. If it does, good, buy a bunch because it will go up. If it doesn’t, good, but a bunch because it will go up. Look at the hard increase when Lord Windgrace was printed in Commander 2018. This is a powerful card that will never stay cheap again, and with lots more “lands matter” cards possible in the future, this will always be a player. It’s already starting to tank in price, so watch for it to rebound (don’t try to grab a falling knife, as stockbrokers love to say) and buy in. This has some reprint risk, but what doesn’t these days? I’m not ready to say “buy RL cards” and call it a column just yet.

The buy-in is currently a bit high on a non-mythic (this too so long I gave up waiting. Woops! These were gettable at bulk) and the reprint risk is pretty high. Even though they love to make everything a special edition foil later, I think you have a year or two to cash in on foils of this.


The foils followed a similar trajectory and I think have more upside considering they’re selling out under $8 everywhere that still has them. Card Kingdom is the highest price and they’re just about sold out if that tells you anything. I don’t love foils in EDH as a recommendation because there are so few copies, there’s so little demand and you can basically only help 3 or 4 people, which isn’t a recommendation, it’s an insider tip. Still, if you’re an insider, here’s a tip.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s look at Omnath and Ashaya’s cards.

Ancient Tomb
Arbor Elf
Birds of Paradise
Carpet of Flowers
Chrome Mox
Destiny Spinner
Dryad Arbor
Eldritch Evolution
Elvish Mystic
Elvish Reclaimer
Field of the Dead
Force of Vigor
Fyndhorn Elves
Gaea’s Cradle
Genesis Wave
Ghost Quarter
Green Sun’s Zenith
Llanowar Elves
Locus of Mana
Mana Crypt
Mana Vault
Mox Diamond
Protector of Argoth
Reliquary Tower
Snow-Covered Forest
Strip Mine
Survival of the Fittest
Sylvan Awakening
Triumph of the Hordes
Utopia Sprawl
Veil of Summer
Vital Force
Wayward Swordtooth
Wild Growth
Yavimaya’s Avatar
Zendikar Resurgent

One card that popped out immediately was Carpet of Flowers. This is a very cEDH card and EDHREC tends to not get cEDH cards much, especially $20 uncommons. I think the increased availability from the Mystery Booster printings is making the card a little more playable. That said, Mox Diamond, Mana Crypt, Ancient Tomb, Survival of the Fittest – these are cEDH cards. They’re in both lists because cEDH players are building a lot of Omnath. I’m not sure why a player with a spare Gaea’s Cradle would be building Ashaya. One thing to note – when you have a small number of decks, such as 20 or so, 2 people building something is 10% of the total and that gets picked up. To the 3 people putting a $2,000 manabase in a deck with a commander that does absolutely nothing on its own, more power to you, I guess.

There are no surprises here, but I do want to highlight one card I like.

Titania is getting really hard to reprint. It’s more expensive than anything they’d put in a Commander precon, it’s too niche to go in something like Modern Horizons, so basically if this isn’t in Commander Legends, it’s likely going to be a minute before it can be reprinted and those sub-$20 copies on TCG Player look mighty inviting.

Since correlating Omnath and Ashaya got the spikey stuff in Ashaya, can doing the same thing with Phylath highlight durdly stuff from both decks?

Acidic Slime
Beanstalk Giant
Beast Whisperer
Beastmaster Ascension
Blighted Woodland
Boundless Realms
Chord of Calling
Cradle of the Sun
Garruk’s Uprising
Growing Rites of Itlimoc // Itlimoc
Guardian Project
Liege of the Tangle
Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
Nissa’s Pilgrimage
Primal Hunter
Reclamation Sage
Return to Nature
Rishkar’s Expertise
Shamanic Revelation


This went 4 years without a reprint and when it did get one, it was in Mystery Boosters, which hasn’t curtailed prices like we expected. I think it’s worth noting how this shrugs off reprints, although if it’s reprinted again, it may not go 4 years after that. I think this is a potential Commander Legends card and if it’s in there, I’m a buyer.


If you want to know why I don’t like EDH foils, behold this graph. This is a $12 foil version of a $7 non-foil card with 1 foil printing and 5 non-foil printings. Casual cards just don’t matter that much in foil, unless they do. If a card is brand new and you think it’s a good EDH card and the foil is $5 and the non-foil is $2, do you want to try and guess if it’s going to pop or do you want to just avoid having to guess? Me, I like avoiding having to guess.

Finally, look at how many decks Nissa’s Pilgrimmage is in. 10k is quite a few. This is the #1 most-played Green Sorcery outside of the top 100 cards in EDHREC’s database. It has 3 printings, Origins where the foil is under a buck, an EDH precon where there was no foil, and an FNM promo that’s under a buck. When someone tells you raw EDHREC inclusions stats and goes all Dragon Ball Z about the number of decks it’s in, remember Nissa’s Pilgrimmage. It’s hard for a card to be in 10,000 decks and be the most-played Green Sorcery in the whole database and that card can’t get above $1. Food for thought.

That does it for me this week. I’ll be diving deeper into specific decks next time – I particularly like how Zareth San could make some Rogues cards that escaped a reprint in the Anowon precon (is all of this gibberish to you because you don’t play EDH? I’m really self-conscious about assuming you’re all on the same page) relevant again. Makes me want to buy all of the Quicksilver Fountains. Until next time!

The Watchtower 09/14/20 – Looking For Lows

Zendikar Rising release is just around the corner, and now that we’ve had the full set spoiled – sorry, previewed – I want to take a look at some of the best cards from the set that I want to be finding low points to buy in at. Because of the fact that we have non-foil Expeditions as box toppers in every box, that’s going to suck up a decent amount of EV and push regular card prices down, and as with Battle for Zendikar I expect that this is going to be a highly opened set, crushing prices even further – but that just means better opportunities to buy cards.

I think there are going to be a load of good targets here and I’m itching to spend money on this set, but need to be patient for the most part and wait for peak supply on the big hits. I’m going to focus on just a few of (what I think are) the best ones here and set my entry targets, but will be keeping a close eye on prices so that I can start buying when things bottom out.

I’m not going to waste your time here talking about the super-obvious targets from Zendikar Rising like the Pathway duals and Lithoform Engine, but instead I’ll go the next level down and talk about some of the best cards you might have missed. There are plenty more that I don’t have the space to write about here, but I’m sure I’ll hit on a few in the future. Oh, and for context, I’m talking about all these cards from an EDH standpoint.

Thieving Skydiver

Target buy price: $1
Possible future price: $4

This isn’t one of the big splashy mythics, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m quite excited about this card. There are very few blue EDH decks that I can’t see this having a place in, because low cost mana rocks are perhaps the cornerstone that most EDH decks are built on. Being able to steal a Sol Ring, Mana Crypt or Mana Vault for only three mana and getting a semi-relevant body alongside that is just so much value – and the best part? You don’t even lose the artifact when Skydiver dies. You just get to keep it. You could even steal a Skullclamp and kill your Skydiver straight away just to make a point. It’s the perfect way to punish that player that seems to always have the turn one Sol Ring and turn that to your advantage, whilst hopefully not painting too big a target on your own head.

Currently preordering for around $3 on TCG and €2 on MKM, I think that this has the chance to get down close to $1. I doubt that many people are going to be picking this up for competitive play, and at a rare I don’t think it’ll quite hit bulk status but it should get lower than its current price at peak supply. I’m looking to pick a stack of these up and find a buylist exit in 12-24 months, and will probably grab some of the EA foils when they bottom out too (hoping for around $10 or lower on those but really can’t say for sure right now).

Ashaya, Soul of the Wild

Target buy price: $5
Possible future price: $10

Now this one is much closer to a big splashy mythic than Skydiver, and has an interesting new effect on it. We’ve had plenty of cards in the past that turn Forests (or other lands) into creatures, but the closest we’ve got to turning your creatures into lands before now was Life and Limb, which only worked for Saprolings (and turned your lands into creatures too which is always a very dangerous thing to do in EDH). Effectively tacking a Llanowar Elves onto all your non-token creatures makes for a serious amount of ramp, and as well as that Ashaya is probably going to be a 6/6 or bigger most of the time. I think that this is a powerful card that’s going to slot into a lot of green decks, and EDHREC is already backing that up, showing it as 2nd most popular card from the set so far.

TCG preorders for Ashaya are silly high and spread thin right now, but over in Europe these are going for €4 already. I don’t know if it gets lower than that really, especially in the US where EDH demand is much higher than in Europe, so I’m quite happy to pick these up around that mark and just buy more if they go any lower. I’d be a little less excited about this if it were a rare, but at mythic I feel like demand is going to be strong enough to push this card up towards $10 in around 12 months, maybe less.

Moraug, Fury of Akoum (Showcase Foil)

Target buy price: $15
Possible future price: $30

We’re definitely into splashy mythic territory now, and WOW is this card good. Reasonable stats as a 6 mana 6/6, but the Landfall ability on Moraug is pretty wild. Whenever you trigger Landfall you get an extra combat step, and your creatures all untap and get buffed for each extra one. So play a fetchland, and you get 3 total combat steps. Got something that lets you play extra lands? There’s a good chance that everyone else at the table is going to be dead by the end of your turn.

I don’t think that this is going to be hugely built as a commander because all the extra land effects you really want to be playing are in green, but I do think that this is going to end up in a lot of RG+ decks as a really strong finisher. Imagine dropping this with an extra land or two the turn after you play an Avenger of Zendikar!

I’m specifically calling out the showcase foils here because the showcase art is honestly stunning, and so I think a lot of players will be drawn to it over the normal version, but I like picking regular copies up if they fall to around $5 as well. As with all my picks today, these are already available way cheaper in Europe if you have access to that market – and if you don’t, then watch out for one of the group buys coming soon in the MTGPrice Protrader Discord…

David Sharman (@accidentprune on Twitter) has been playing Magic since 2013, dabbling in almost all formats but with a main focus on Modern, EDH and Pioneer. Based in the UK and a new writer for MTGPrice in 2020, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.