Unlocked Pro Trader: Hot Specs for Cool Decks


There are 2 new preconstructed decks revealed so far and I want to talk about both of them. If there are actually 5, you could get access to this article on Tuesday by becoming a Pro Trader, just saying. Early access to the articles is just one of the many benefits. I mean, this isn’t even me trying to pitch Pro Trader, this is just me uncomfortable that I only have 2 decks to talk about and you have information that I don’t about what’s in the other 3. I’ll talk about the rest of them next week – Tuesday if you found this paragraph charming, Thursday if you didn’t.

Lorehold and Prismari are revealed so far and I think despite RW usually being a pretty weak pairing, things seem different with this set. They used old, familiar color pairings but really did work to put a new twist on them – Lorehold is NOT Boros. This isn’t a combat-oriented precon, it’s leaning a bit into White’s “Archaeology” theme that hasn’t been explored much since like, Antiquities, and giving us some real value out of the graveyard in ways Boros never dreamed of. The precon also contains a very, very good reprint.

I don’t want to suck up to WotC too much (here; I ABSOLUTELY sucked up to them on Twitter and I’ll do it again) but this is a great reprint. What I won’t tweet is that they don’t deserve a ton of credit here because this was closer to $10 than $30 when they put the precon together to send off to the printer. It worked out for us, like it worked out in 2016 the first time this card was reprinted and sunk to below $5.

This won’t sink to $5 ever again and won’t ascend to $30, most likely, but there is still money to be made when this bottoms out. This should regain some value because it’s a bonkers card and it’s a Dargon and it steals ALL of their artifacts. Good God, this card is really good. Wherever this stops, buy it, it will go back up. This graph basically starts where it was reprinted and look at that curve.

There are some really solid reprints here beside Hellkite Tyrant, but I’m not sure too many of them have a chance to get back to their pre-reprint levels the way Tyrant will. There is one card I like, though.

This was also pretty reasonable when it was slated for the reprint but with the Elves shenanigans happening lately, this popped off in a big way. I think it’s likely this at least approaches the $20 it hit in 2019. This Lorehold deck could be the RW deck from Commander 2015 – it didn’t sell well but it was the surprise value winner a year later with Urza’s Incubator, Fiery Confluence, Blade of Selves and Gisela. We have seen $40 precon decks with one $50 card in them just this last year and it should be affordable to buy these decks and get your value back in basically 2 cards and have the rest of the deck be pure profit.

The new cards in the deck matter, too.

Tax is likely going to be a second Smothering Tithe rather than a new Smothering Tithe. With the other cards in the deck, it seems fairly likely that Monologue Tax’s price will be under $10.

Although it seems some people are eager not to make the same mistake they did when they underestimated Smothering Tithe. Where will Monologue Tax go if it’s half as good as Tithe?

And that’s with a reprint in the Brawl decks. Monologue Tax is no Smothering Tithe, but it’s close-ish and I think it’s not unreasonable to expect it in the $12-$15 range, but I bet it goes down before it goes up unless you find a presale price that’s cheaper than the ones that exist now. Be patient, let the feeding frenzy come and go and let everyone else test this in their decks.

The Prismari deck doesn’t have quite the same amount of bonkers reprint value, but it’s still pretty solid. OK, that’s misleading. This deck has like 0 value. Want to know the most expensive cards in the deck right now?

It could mean that the deck is bad and is always bad, but there is hope nestled among the new cards.

Everything in the deck costs a million mana, which is fine with Rousing Refrain being cast for free every once in a while. The real monster is the commander, though.

Preliminarily, take a look at Thousand-Year Storm which dodged a reprint in this deck, which is silly considering there are 2 $20+ cards in the Lorehold deck. I did get my Swarm Intelligence stonks spanked, though, but I deserve that, I guess. When the full deck is on EDHREC, I’ll have some cards to look at, but I have a few ideas based on looking around the net to see what people are building.

This is already on its way to the moon, or at least near-earth orbit with the parts of space shuttles and junked Soviet satellites. That’s pretty good, right? Buying in at $10 feels weird, but there are $8 or $9 copies available and I think this is $20 in a year barring intervention.

I bet you didn’t know this was going for this much. This is a beefier version of Young Pyromancer and EDH players are very aware of it even if some of the rest of us weren’t. This is on its way up and double triggering this seems cool.

Finally, a card that I need to show TCG Prices for because the graph on Card Kingdom is messed up.

This looks like a useless graph, but it’s actually not. Let me explain what is happening here. Mizzix was an $8 card that appeared to be going for $1 every few months. What happened there? Put simply, Card Kingdom doesn’t do a good job with their API that other sites scrape. When there are no copies of Mizzix listed, it doesn’t list the price it was going for when it sold out like it does for other cards because there is a $1 copy of the foil oversized card from the EDH decks in stock. We can see every time Mizzix sold out on Card Kingdom in the last few years. It happens quite a bit. That’s something worth knowing. This was selling out before it had a nuts deck like Veyran to go in.

Veyran also ends up in the 99 of decks like Kalamax, but I don’t know if that makes anything move. Kalamax is pretty popular already and I don’t know if adding Veyran to the 99 juices it at all. You can certainly look at Mizzix and Kalamax decks, though, to see if anything sticks out to you. I can’t catch everything, but I can teach you to fish. Go fish.

Third Time’s the Charm

I’ve already done a couple of passes at Kaldheim, but I think that there are still a couple of cards in the set worth talking about that I haven’t mentioned yet. It’s proved a fairly deep set for both casual and competitive formats, and there are a lot of cards that I think will be played for years to come. This is my third article on Kaldheim cards and there are more pickups I like that I haven’t even talked about here, so let’s see what made the cut!

Valki, God of Lies (Borderless Foil)

Price today: $45
Possible price: $80

When Kaldheim was first released, there was a huge amount of hype around Valki, God of Lies due to its interaction with the Cascade ability, meaning that you could cascade into the Valki side of the card but then cast the seven mana Tibalt side of the card for free. This trick caused Modern to be rife with people cascading into Tibalt on turn two or three, making for a rather unfun time.

This uh, oversight? has since been rectified with a rules change to Cascade, meaning that the card you cast off the Cascade trigger has to have a mana value less than that of the card you used to cascade, and this has in turn led to a retrace in Valki’s price across the board after the initial spike. However, the card is still seeing play in Modern and Pioneer just as a good fair value engine on both sides, and so I think that its dip in price leaves it in a good spot to pick up now. Niv to Light is still one of the most popular decks in Pioneer and four/five colour Omnath decks remain a thing in Modern, and both archetypes have adopted a few copies of Valki here and there. On top of that, it’s a reasonably popular EDH card too – 166 decks listed using it as the commander and another 400 or so playing it in the 99.

Borderless foils have retraced from almost $100 down to around $45 now, but supply isn’t exactly on the high side. Only 28 listings on TCGPlayer with just four of those under $50, and a nice ramp heading over $60 makes me think that this card is due to head back upwards over the next few months or so, as competitive and EDH demand slowly drains out the remaining copies. Give it 12-18 months and I can easily see this as an $80+ card – the Showcase foils are already over $65, which is a good indication.

Alrund’s Epiphany (Borderless Foil)

Price today: $15
Possible price: $30

Extra turn spells always do well, and I don’t think that this one is going to be an exception. It’s already performed strongly in Standard and Historic in the Emergent Ultimatum decks, and is racking up decent EDH stats as well. At over 500 decks recorded on EDHREC, I’d put it at a tier 2 ish level compared to the rest of the set, but it has the added benefit of being a Mythic and being a Time Walk effect.

It’s a slightly more expensive extra turn than some other spells like Time Warp, but the fact that it has Foretell makes it pseudo-immune to Wheel effects or hand attack in EDH, and you do get a couple of tokens for your troubles as well. We do have quite a few Time Walk effects to choose from in EDH these days, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this one makes the cut over a few others that are slightly more vanilla.

The Borderless foils only have 27 listings on TCGPlayer, and most of those are single copies. MKM has a few cheaper copies around €10 if you can get them, but again supply is not very deep there either. I expect to see this double or more in the next 12 months, and it’s a gorgeous card to look at in the meantime!

Mystic Reflection (FEA)

Price today: $10
Possible price: $25

I think that Mystic Reflection has a lot of different applications that may not be apparent on a first glance at the card, and the EDHREC stats seem to back this up. It’s been built into over 1200 decks since Kaldheim was released, making it the second most popular blue card behind Ravenform (which is a common, so doesn’t really matter to us). Mystic Reflection can be used to turn an opponent’s threat into a tiny token, disrupt someone’s combo or even enable your own by copying yours or someone else’s creature.

It’s such a flexible card that a lot of blue decks are going to want it, and as such I think that the price will be heading on an upwards trajectory. TCGPlayer has FEA copies around $10 right now, and you won’t find any cheaper on MKM. These are purely EDH demand but I think that this will become enough of a relative staple that we could see these over $20 in 12-18 months, so grab your personal copies now and stash away some more to hold onto for a bit.

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.

Post-Pandemic Preparations

We haven’t had a MagicFest/Grand Prix event since Lyon in early March of 2020. Paper Magic is starting to reopen in some places, with different levels of precautions in place depending on local governments. There are places in the world that didn’t need to shut down local stores for long, and paper didn’t really dwindle there. 

For most of the world, though, paper games are a relic of the before-time, and hopefully will be a thing that comes back soon. Commander players are making do on Spelltable, and Magic Online plus Magic Arena scratches the itch for most Constructed or Limited players. 

However, as long-term thinkers, we have to consider what is going to happen when paper play returns. What formats should we be focused on? What staples can we get now? What versions carry the best prospects?

To be clear, I don’t have any inside information about when paper events will start again. Conventions are starting to make plans, the World Series of Poker is planning on events in November, and it looks like (oh please) schools will be approaching a new normal when the fall comes around.

When it comes to paper events starting again, I don’t think Commander is going to have as huge an impact as Constructed formats. Commander has been driving prices for more than a year now, and when combined with the collectors that have been targeting older cards, you get the recent increases that we’ve seen. People have been buying new cards and getting the rarest versions of cards for their Commander decks for some time, so I’m not expecting local stores reopening to bump those prices significantly. Likewise with GP-level events: the Command Zone probably won’t be a huge price driver either.

So what I’m thinking about more are the constructed formats: Standard, Pioneer, Modern, and Legacy. Standard is on the cusp of rotation, but if I’m thinking that paper events start again in the fall, or perhaps even this summer, where do I want to be? At rotation, we’re losing Throne of Eldraine, Ikoria, Theros: Beyond Death and Core 2021. That’s a whole lot of cards we don’t want to pick up if we’re Standard-focused.

We don’t know all of Strixhaven yet, but we know that the Triomes will be leaving Standard, along with Fabled Passage. So as a starter, if I’m predicting Standard’s return, I want to be picking up the ten Pathways right now, as they are the only game in town for mana fixing. It won’t stay that way, but they are likely to be good enough to see play, and jumping from $3-$4 to $8-$9 seems reasonable. I wish I could have a better sense of which Pathways to focus on, but there’s too much unknown information with the sets still to come.

Faceless Haven and Crawling Barrens are the only creature-lands that are legal in Standard, until some new ones come along. Faceless is at $1.50 and Barrens is only fifty cents, and both would be buylist plays if purchases in large amounts. Right now there isn’t a big demand for either, but that has the potential to change, especially once the Castles rotate as utility lands. The Temples are not a spec target for me, because of the additional supply from the original Theros block.

Remember that Pioneer was announced as a format in October of 2019, and in-person play ended about five months later. The format barely had a chance to get set up! During those five months, everything was all about Pioneer from a finance perspective, and when paper events start again, I think that’s one of the main places we should be looking. Modern is a more expensive format, but those who love it, really love it. Same with Legacy, only for an even smaller group of players.

With all three of those formats, it’s MTGO or bust right now, and luckily, we’ve got good metagame data and all three are nonrotating formats. 

With Pioneer, there’s one card I’m really staring at, because it started to spike hard when Pioneer was getting started, but it’s fallen back down significantly: Sylvan Caryatid.

It’s only in ten percent of decks, but it’s the full playset when it shows up. No one dares shave on one of the best mana accelerators ever. A wide range of decks want to play this, and while Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic are also in a lot of decks, there’s a lot of those cards out there. (Yes, Mystic is on the Remastered sheet, and I’ll get to that category in a moment.) There has not yet been a meaningful reprint of the Caryatid, and as a rare plus being the buy-a-box promo, supply is constrained. Right now on TCG there’s a lot of copies in the $5 range, and that feels like an easy double-up when events happen in person again.

I’m also very big on one of the more utility creatures in the format: Bonecrusher Giant. Here, though, I am going to call attention to one of the side plots present in the current Magic pantheon: Is Constructed Magic the target audience for non-foil special frame, Showcase, Extended Art, or any other variant? It feels like the answer is yes: Tournament decks cannot play just a few foil cards for fear of being called out for Marked Cards. We now have a way to have a special version of a card without that version being noticeably warped. So if you’re going to spec on Bonecrusher Giant (good creature plus a removal spell) or Fae of Wishes (only wishboard enabler in the format) or Fabled Passage (only fetchland in the format) I’d advocate going in on the nonfoil special frame.

This includes things like the Time Spiral Remastered Old Border sheet for Elvish Mystic, or Thoughtseize, the second-most-played spell in the format right now. Getting the OB versions for $40ish is very appealing. Keep in mind that there’s other versions under $20 still, both Double Masters and Iconic Masters…but they don’t look as cool. Those versions might well be underpriced when paper launches again, for that matter.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of everything that could blow up when paper events start, but a framework for what it would take for that to happen. Do you have some other ideas, some favorite cards? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter, or speak up in the ProTrader Discord!

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: Preliminary Strixhaven THoughts


There’s no getting off of Mr. Hogwarts’ Wild Ride, and with sexy Japanese alternate art versions of cards in Collector Boosters, potentially replacing the MS Paint alternate art cards that are already going to sling a lot of boosters, we’re in for a set that’s going to make some real waves. What waves in EDH, exactly? Well, it’s too early to tell for sure since all of the cards aren’t revealed and we don’t have any EDHREC data to parse yet, but I have some ideas about where to look first.

There are a few cards that are on their way to popping already, or have popped but they might be mispriced.

New evergreen keyword Ward introduced in MTG Strixhaven | Dot Esports

The Twincasters will be included in the EDH decks and since their revelation, people have been thinking about how they might be broken.

Helm was already on its way, but this didn’t hurt it at all. I would say the reprint risk is pretty low since these were already over $10 when the decks were being built. Still, even if Helm is reprinted, a steep growth curve like this ensures it will shake the reprinting off and you’ll be able to get out for more than you paid. I have a bunch of copies in the mail I plan to ship out before the decklists are finalized but if you’re feeling diamond-handsy you can always hodl and let me know how it goes.

Rite is down off of its peak and that spells profit possibilities. It spiked recently and calmed back down and that’s a perfect opportunity to grab copies before they go even higher. I’d say the next 6 months have way more opportunities for a new impetus for this card to go up than opportunities for a reprint, and since people are holding off, expecting a printing in the precon, you can be greedy while they’re being fearful.

Here’s a budget pick.

I don’t have any EDHREC data so, again, I’m speculating but I think this stuff likely matters.

Hofri is also pretty interesting.

Unlike with Adrix and Nev, it’s less obvious what will be good here. I read a couple of reddit threads where people were brewing, and if you’re not doing that, you really, really should.

Here is what could matter from Hofri, besides the obvious.

If Spirts end up being a thing at all, paying under $2 for a Kamigawa foil on this seems fine, especially with Card Kingdom selling out without anyone noticing.

Meanwhile this $5 foil never got a reprint. If Spirts are a big factor, other cards could be in play.

My inclination when someone tweets something I don’t agree with is to make sure my position is supported by data.

At first I was skeptical because I didn’t think just spirits being a thing would matter for Kykar since it seemed more likely people would build new spirits cards around new spirits commanders, which would be Lorehold and the decks couldn’t include Kykar, and would people really build Kykar? So I went looking.

I don’t know whether cards like Hofri Ghostforge are going to make more people build Kykar, but it turns out they never really stopped. Kykar is the 12th-most-built commander of the past 2 years. Here’s another thing.

Kykar is played half as much as a non-mythic that only costs twice as much as Kykar, and it’s played twice as much as a Mythic with the same number of printings that costs 3 times as much. For whatever reason, it looks like Kykar may be undervalued and even if Spirits in the new set don’t make Kykar do anything, the incongruity of a card being underpriced should do it on its own. Let’s look at the trajectory.

It’s hard to distinguish the moderate upswing it’s on right now from noise, but it could be on its way past $5 on Card Kingdom for good this time. How many copies are we talking about?

OK, then. Looks like my gut was wrong, and that’s why we always look at data.

Speaking of data, we’ll have more next week, and since the window on getting stuff is shrinking quite a bit from where it used to be, it doesn’t hurt to get updates from me more often than once a week in these articles, just sayin’. That does it for me, everyone. Until next time!