The Followers of the Pack

Right now, one card, with two versions, is soaking up most of the value of Kaldheim packs, and yes, it’s Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. It’s been a while since we had a set that was underwhelming financially, and it’s worth discussing what happens to everything else in the set and how we got to this point.

Vorinclex has hit his low price, and from here, I expect it to trend steadily upwards: 

The Phyrexian version is more common than the Showcase version, because packs in every language can end up with a Phyrexian-language Vorinclex. The demand is that much higher, though, as evidenced by such a high pre-order price for the nonfoil.

Kaldheim still has some cards that are nice to find in a booster pack, but past the top handful, it gets pretty rough. The last time we had a set with an effect like this, it was the Masterpieces. I’m thinking of both the Inventions from Kaladesh block and the Invocations from Amonkhet block.

When there’s a chase version of a card every X packs/boxes, it depresses the prices of the other cards. Phyrexian foil Vorinclex is going for $300 and rising, which means at distributor prices, you need to open one of those at a certain rate to make it worthwhile. It was worth it for the Masterpieces, which were more common as a set than Phyrexian foil Vorinclex, but it’s not quite there yet.

It will be, though. The demand is real from Commander players and collectors who want the hottest things from each set, regardless of price. It doesn’t take a lot of those folks to really move the needle, and that’s how we get FEA Jeweled Lotus at prices that are consistently rising:

So what do we do, when there’s a high-value singleton and everything else is falling in price as expected? We should prepare for the rest of the cards to keep falling as the star rises, and adjust expectations accordingly.

It also needs to be said that while the set has a lot of good cards, there’s a noticeable shift in power level, away from the tremendousness that was most of the past year and all of the bans that happened are testament to that power level. Kaldheim isn’t a bad set, it’s just that there’s very few cards which compare favorably to the sets that came before. 

With all the interest on the top few cards, there’s a few cards I’ve got my eye on and I’m hoping that they fall to a target price. I’m prepared for them to not fall that far, but the combination of lower power and leftover financial interest means they’ve got farther to go.

Reflections of Littjara – Currently at $1.50 for the regulars and falling, this is a card that every tribal deck should give serious thought to. It’s part of the class of Commander cards that say ‘I don’t do anything right now, but I’m about to make the table groan in disgust and envy.’ I like this card a lot in the long term, but I’m fully willing to be patient for this to creep down to a dollar for the regular version. There’s a promo foil from the Kaldheim bundle, and that’s available for $2 or less, but that isn’t borderless foil. Once these sink lower, I think they will be an excellent long term hold.

Maskwood Nexus – This isn’t as cheap,with regulars being $2.50 and the FEA versions pushing $10, but the effect is real and this being colorless means it’s a backup to the decks playing Conspiracy, Arcane Adaptation, or both. The early adopters all have their copies, and now we’re in the waiting game for the rest of them to fall in price. Arcane Adaptation doubled in a year, and while I don’t think this will go to $20 that fast, I do think it’ll trickle down to $7 or even $5 and that’s really when I want to pick up a few copies.

The World Tree – Obvious cards are obvious, and this is no exception. It has to go into five-color decks but that’s the sort of deck that really needs fixing that’s as simple as playing a tapped land. This has come down notably since the beginning of the set:

It’s flattened out for now but I’m letting this cool down even more. I grabbed a personal copy already but the spec copies I’m being patient on the rest of the copies I want to get. I don’t know how much farther down they will go in full-art foil, but I’m more intrigued by the regular copies at $3 or so. I don’t think it’s a reprint risk, either, even if they do a five-color Commander deck I doubt it would be in there.

Mystic Reflection – There are a lot of meme-level interactions with this card, and that’s the only reason that I can think of for this to still be as expensive as it is. It’s not a huge Commander card, though it’s got lots of amusing interactions. Frankly, this feels like it should be a bulk rare, and that’s the sort of price I want to get in on. This being about $14 for the foil full art is especially confusing, and I definitely do not want to be buying a card with no obvious uses.

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: Upgrading the Kaldheim Precons (At First)


I don’t expect YOU to upgrade the Kaldheim precon decks, necessarily. I am not even going to tell you how I think you should do that – it’s not my job. It’s so not my job I just hired a father/son duo to write that article series on EDHREC and if you came here looking for that, that’s where it is, go nuts. I feel qualified as an EDH-understander to do that, like if you wanted to tweet at me and ask me a specific question, I’m all over it, but, again, not my job. I’m not above it, it’s just outside the scope of what I do here.

Besides, you want me to answer a different question because it’s relevant to your interests. You’re not here for “how do I upgrade these decks” but rather “how are other people upgrading these decks?” and “follow-up, why should I care?” and lucky you, I have the answers to both of those questions locked and loaded.

Do these decks matter? I think one matters more than the other, so I’m going to bury the lede a bit and talk about the less exciting one first.

Ranar the Ever-Watchful

Ragnar is sort of a weird precon. It plays a little better outside of the box against Lathril than vice versa but once you start adding the ridiculous Elves from Magic’s history to Lathril, Ranar gets outpaced in the arms race. There aren’t really any exciting Foretell cards to add and there likely won’t be more in the future, so it seems like this deck has made itself fairly obsolete by virtue of doubling down on a set-specific mechanic versus giving people another chance/excuse to build Golgari Elves. I rebuilt my Nath deck and it was super cool how everyone scoops to Tergrid. I mean, I hate it, but some people like that, and there are a lot more options for Golgari elves than for Azorius “cards from literally just this one set.”

That said, people are using this as a blink commander to get value when you return stuff. You only get one token when you Ghostway your board, so you’ll have to do it in smaller batches to get value, but value you shall have.

It used to be, a reprinting would tank non-mythic rares pretty hard, but Closet didn’t even really acknowledge that a bunch of supply was added with its Double Masters printing and just hovered around its pre-2018 value. This doesn’t go to $10 for longer than it will take to reprint it again, but with a $4 floor, I think getting in for $3ish on TCG Player and getting out for $6 CK store credit in a year is very achievable and super easy. This card is very good and won’t stop being good.

It’s subtle, but you can see the CK price beginning to diverge from the TCG Player price. One reason for that is that Panharmonicon is on “the list” and can be busted from Kaldheim Collector and Set boosters, giving individual and store-level sellers a few copies to list, driving a race toward the bottom, but not giving a big store like CK enough copies to keep in stock as fast as demand is rising, especially with events closed. If Ck wants copies, they have to throw buylist money at them, and hope people want to mail them in.

They’re paying TCG retail on their buylist, just about. The cheap copies on TCG Player will disappear because set boosters of Kaldheim are about kind of like a dog with two butts – fun and novel at first but the drawbacks quickly make themselves apparent. I am betting on CK’s assessment of the trajectory of this card being the right one. This has very little to do with Ranar except that Panharmonicon should go in every Ranar deck without exception, and this was as good a place to talk about this card as any.

There isn’t much else I love on this page other than maybe Cathars’ Crusade, but that’s never not a buy as soon as it’s reprinted.

Let’s look at the other deck, now, shall we?

Lathril, Blade of the Elves

Lathril may nor may not want to be at the helm of the deck, but if this card makes people rebuild their Nath deck and jam this in, more power to them because this still caused an Elf deck to be created and it does work in the 99.

There is no money to be made here unless you find these in a binder for its old price at a store that doesn’t look stuff up. Between the Golgari Elf commanders in Commander Legends and now Lathril, there was no reason not to expect this to be in play, but a crazy moonshot wasn’t quite what I expected or I might have mentioned something before. This was $2.50 on November 10th and now it’s 8 times that, which seems high, certainly. I would sell into this hype, but if you don’t have copies, don’t think about Ezuri as much as think about what is absolutely going to predictably go bat$@&% as a result of Strixhaven, buy those cards now and sell into the dumb, predictable hype there. Strixhaven probably gives us Wizard tribal stuff and probably doesn’t reprint the Ezuri equivalent in that precon deck, one of which is bound to be Wizards related. Or, hey, here’s a thought – Bitterblossom spiked because they said Throne of Eldraine would be a fairy tale set and everyone said “YOU HAD ME AT FAIRY” and bought Bitterblossoms. That’s dumb, but if spikes like that are predictable, why not buy the stuff for pennies now and wait for the inevitable?

Oh wow, Kaldheim! A snow set with Vikings and Barbarians and Berserkers. This is going to do so much work when that set drops!

*45 continuous seconds of a fart sound effect*

Someone(s) (including my podcast cohost DJ “stank” Johnson) made money buying this for like a quarter and waiting for the big-brain speculator crowd to pay him $4 each for them. There’s free money in Strixhaven and if a basically useless card like Lovisa is in play, imagine what happens if there is a Wizard that’s close to as playable as Ezuri. Yeah, we missed Ezuri, but we got into EDH so there was more than one opportunity every 6 months for a spec to hit. Dust yourself off, look at Wizards lists and make stacks so fat they end up guarded by super problematic goblins in the town where all the kids at Strixhaven buy their wands or whatever.

This JUST got reprinted and it stayed above $10, when it has gotten significantly lower in the past.

Card Kingdom isn’t doing a fire sale and I am not sure you should, either. A lot of people don’t love the new art. If the price is where it is after the card was added to The List AND it got a printing in a product like Commander Collection: Green, I like its chances of rebounding.

I didn’t expect this to be the “better luck next time!” article, but I think the Elves in Commander Legends shortened our window in a way I didn’t anticipate and I could have written this article the day they spoiled Lathril and we still would have been too late. All we can do is prepare better for next time. This going from $3 to $11 is pretty significant, especially for a card with a Duel deck (albeit like the first one ever with 0 supply) printing.

Let’s quickly post some pics of cards it’s NOT too late to buy and call it a day.

I got nothing. All the Elf stuff doubled from all of the Elf decks lately. I literally think next week I’m going to do something I tell you never to do and pick out a bunch of Wizards stuff that probably goes up. Let’s be early for once, shall we? Until next time!

The Watchtower 02/15/21 – Esika’s Got Me Seeking

Jason did a great article last week on Esika, God of the Tree and some of the best cards that slot into that deck, and it got me taking a look at some other five colour commanders, decks and what kind of cards they like to play. Five colour decks are far from the most popular things to build, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not full of excellent spec targets. Some of the best cards from them are played in the majority of five colour archetypes, and lots will also see play in other decks as well, meaning that despite the relative unpopularity of these decks compared to, say, Simic decks, we can still find some good targets from them.

Cascading Cataracts (Foil)

Price today: $9
Possible price: $20

Although technically not necessarily solely a five colour card, Cascading Cataracts is a perfect utility land for decks trying to produce WUBRG mana or some other wild combination to cast Ultimatums and the like, filtering any number of colours (or colourless) mana into the colour(s) you need. On top of that it’s also indestructible, which is a huge boon at the EDH table when there are Wastelands and Strip Mines running interference in the game. Being taken off one or more of your colours can be a quick path to losing a game of EDH, especially when you’re playing a deck with very stringent mana requirements, and so having something like this in your arsenal can help things out a lot.

Cascading Cataracts has only ever had the single printing in Amonkhet back in 2017, almost four years ago now. It’s the kind of card you’d expect to see reprinted in Commander decks, but we haven’t had it yet and even if (when?) we do, it probably won’t be in foil. This is a card in 11,000 EDH decks on EDHREC and foils are starting to run very thin on the ground. There are only 21 listings left on TCGPlayer with just a few below $10, but I don’t think that those will stick around too much longer. With more five colour cards like Esika coming out in each new set, people will want their foil copies of Cataracts for new and old decks alike, and give it 6-12 months I think that these will be well above $20.

Faeburrow Elder (FEA)

Price today: $30
Possible price: $60

Bloom Tender used to be the only card that had this effect on it, and as such got pretty damn expensive (~$60) before we saw it reprinted in Mystery Booster, with Eventide foils still commanding wild prices over $400. With Throne of Eldraine, Faeburrow Elder gave us a much more accessible avenue to this ability, and as such it’s gained enough popularity to be neck and neck with Bloom Tender in terms of EDHREC numbers, with both cards listed in almost 15k decks.

Even in just a green & white deck Faeburrow Elder is a reasonable card, a 2/2 tapping for two mana, but the more colours you add the better it gets. In five colour decks its ceiling is a three mana 5/5 that makes WUBRG mana for you, which is a super powerful effect that is going to get you going places pretty quickly.

There are a couple of copies of Faeburrow Elder left at $30 on TCGPlayer and a handful below $40, but with a total of 22 listings and no FEA reprint on the horizon, these won’t stay below $40 for much longer. You can still grab some around €25 on MKM but supply isn’t very deep there either, which shows how popular this EDH-only card is, despite Europe’s relative dearth of EDH play.

Chromatic Orrery (FEA)

Price today: $35
Possible price: $60

This card actually surprised me a little, and it just shows that we all misevaluate cards more often than we think. When Chromatic Orrery was previewed for M21, I honestly didn’t think too much of it, mostly because of its seven mana casting cost. Yes, it does give you five mana back right away, but that’s still a big investment that could easily produce very little value if it’s countered or removed right away.

However, around 5000 people seem to disagree with me – and more power to them. This has turned out to be a very popular card in five colour decks, amongst others, and as well as being a big colour-fixing mana rock, it can draw you a bunch of cards too. We’ve already seen Mythic FEAs from M21 like Fiery Emancipation and Terror of the Peaks popping off, and although Chromatic Orrery FEA has stayed pretty high since M21’s release, I think that it’s pretty clear that this will be the next card to go.

There are a grand total of seven NM foils on TCGPlayer, starting at $35 and ramping up quickly. If you have access to the European market then there are still a few under €25 but again, supply is not very deep. If you want any personal or spec copies then snap them up quickly, because I think that these will be over $50 very quickly.

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, he’s an active MTG finance speculator specialising in cross-border arbitrage.

When to Buy New Cards

This week I want to address something that I get asked a whole lot: “Should I buy {card from the new set} now, or should I wait?”

This has a semi-complicated answer, and requires you to have done some thinking about the card first. My method is not foolproof, but will get you what you want in almost all cases. Let’s get into the specifics and the pitfalls.

To be clear, this is my process that I apply to newly released cards that are getting a lot of hype. This isn’t about reprinted cards (buy after three months) or Reserved List cards (if it didn’t spike already, it’s a buy) but only about new, in pack cards. This does apply to reprint sets like Double Masters, as well as combination sets like Commander Legends.

The first thing I need you to think about is why you’re buying the cards. Are you going to put it in your cube/Commander/Standard/whatever format deck immediately, or are you buying speculative copies?

If it’s for personal use, I suggest you get your copies within the first two or three weeks. Let the frenzy die down, but wait until people have had the chance to open their personal boxes, the stuff they preordered but couldn’t ship until the official opening day. That time frame is about right for the new things to fall from the preorder prices, but short enough before scarcity starts to pump prices up.

Let’s look at an example from the recent past: Jeweled Lotus in Foil Extended Art.

We had a couple of weeks in there where the price crept down under $400, despite crazy preorders. The immediate frenzy had a chance to die down, and keep in mind that this was one of the rarest cards in packs, needing approximately 400 Collector Boosters to come up with one copy. The second that prices started to go up, and the FOMO kicked in, it went up several hundred more, and frankly, it’s going to keep creeping upward with every copy sold.

Now, this philosophy only applies to the cards that are the most sought after, which isn’t always the rarest version of a card. The other FEA mythics from Commander Legends are exactly as common as the FEA Lotus, but demand plus cachet mean that Soulfire Eruption is $7 as an FEA, when the Jeweled Lotus is $750+.

The card I’m thinking of right now is the foil Phyrexian Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. Preordering for $400+, it’s dipped under $200 on TCG and there’s a lot under $250.

If you want one for a deck (and you know you do, it’s even better than Doubling Season when it comes to planeswalkers) then I strongly advocate that you do so now. The price is right and I totally sympathize with the desire to get the card right now and put it into the deck (or decks) that want it badly. I think you should go ahead and snap up the Phyrexian foil now, or in the next 1-2 weeks, before the price shoots back up. Too many cards are spiking too hard, and this is the hot card of the moment. Please don’t clever yourself out of what you want.

When picking up cards for speculative purposes, though, I don’t like to acquire the big cards for hopes of gains in the same timeframe. I advocate more patience. The greatest supply on a card is almost always 2-4 months after release, when the next big set comes out. The rest of Commander Legends is in this phase, and there are some excellent deals to be had if you’ve been patient. Yes, a couple of cards spiked back up, like FEA Apex Devastator, but for the most part, prices have dropped back down.

Now, there are potential issues with my plan. In some cases, when you buy your personal copy before the first month is over, it’ll fall farther. This happened to me with the FEA version of Hellkite Courser, an amazing addition to my The Ur-Dragon deck.

I bought a copy the first week for about $35. I should have been more patient, and saved myself $10. It’s come up a little in price from that low point, because FEA mythics were never really in huge supply from this set, but my eagerness cost me a little cash. Not a ruinous amount, but it stings. This is a risk I’m taking on because I just don’t want to wait. I want to have the new cool card in my deck RIGHT NOW!

Just as moving too soon can be a bad thing and cause me to overpay early, moving too late can mean I pay more as well. This is harder to evaluate ahead of time, but it tends to track with how playable a card is in the format it’s aimed at. 

The example here would be Jeska’s Will:

If I’d moved in on the two-week plan, instead of expecting this to hit the lowest point at three months, then I could have made a lot of money in a very short period of time. Many people did, and have made their money, but this is the risk I take in moving too slowly.

One more thing about the distinction between personal copies and spec copies: We don’t tend to worry too much about the cost of the sweet card we put into a Commander deck, at least as it comes to new cards. Is it the version we wanted? Okay, great, get in there and let’s do some work. Commander is the intersection of collecting and playing, with the delicious topping of being able to show off the collection while playing.

When it comes to your personal copies, I’m a strong advocate of getting what you want right away. Don’t mess around trying to save a couple of dollars. Go get what you want, and then enjoy the feeling of that acquisition. You’re gaining value left and right with all the help from our site and our Discord, you deserve to get that sweet card.

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.