MTGO and Modern Horizons 2

Magic Online gets a lot of crap for being a crap program. There are oral histories and big retrospectives on why the program is the way that it is, and the succession of issues that made it into the behemoth that it is. I don’t like the program personally, finding it clunky and irritating, but it has a big impact on Modern, Legacy, and even Vintage play, because that’s the only place people can play those formats online, and for real prizes. 

Modern Horizons 2 is now legal on MTGO, and has made prices shift in some remarkable ways. Let’s dive in and see what has happened online, and what might happen going forward as prereleases happen in person and packs start to get opened for paper play.

Granted, this is only the first week, but MTGO tends to set the trends and try for a more ‘solved’ metagame. There’s a LOT of new fun things going on with this set, and this is not going to be a comprehensive list. Sadly, this will also be obsolete in a month, but if you’re looking to unload what you open at the prerelease or adjust your pre-orders, this is the spot.

Urza’s Saga (Up $25) – The preorders were for about $20, and I wouldn’t expect that price to hold given how much product is about to be opened…except that multiple decks are already using this as a four-of, and that’s before we get to the Commander applications. Amulet Titan loves the idea of a tutor for Amulet that can’t be countered and just happens to have the Amulet show up on turn 3, and then it’s Prime Time.

Affinity decks are hopelessly in love with this card too, and Affinity is going to put more cards on this list. All the steps in the Saga are great for Affinity, and don’t overlook that you’ll get two bites at the “make a robot” ability at step 2. Go find the Welding Jar, or the Signal Pest, or the Pithing Needle you need. It’s pretty silly.

For Commander players, the obvious play is to use it to find the Sol Ring or Mana Crypt, but pair it with Power Conduit and you get to search OVER AND OVER again, finding all of the trinkets you put into the deck. Yes, that works. Put the step 3 ability on the stack, and then use the Conduit to take a counter off. The ability resolves, and when it checks to destroy itself, it’s only at two counters. 

Right now there’s a lot at $45 on TCGPlayer, and we’re still in preorder phase until the 18th. I expect to see more lists with Urza’s Saga this weekend, but this is a rare, not a mythic. It won’t hold at $45 once boxes are being opened, especially because there’s a lot of talk about it being banned. If I knew it wasn’t going to be banned, I’d be a buyer at $20 or even $25, but with that hanging over my head I just can’t do it. In six weeks, it might be as low as $20 again.

Thought Monitor (Up to $6.50 from $4) and Nettlecyst (Up to $3.50 from $1) – Affinity is playing a creature with actual Affinity for Artifacts! Stop the presses! There have been versions in the past that played Thoughtcast, but this is just amazing, getting a 2/2 flyer AND two cards for a single blue mana on turn three or four. Nettlecyst is not showing up as a four-of, but it does a credible job of being additional copies of Cranial Plating. 

Nettlecyst has synergies with UW artifact builds that play Stoneforge Mystic, being another great target after getting the first Batterskull. In the right deck, with the right board, I can easily see Nettlecyst being a bigger threat than Batterskull. I even found an Emry deck that used Sai, Master Thopterist and Retrofitter Foundry (which Urza’s Saga can find!) to churn out the 4/4 tokens.

Territorial Kavu (Up to $5 after being less than $1) – With fetchlands, shocks, and Triomes, having this attack as a 5/5 is easy enough. The new Zoo lists aren’t playing Nacatl, but are making use of General Ferrous Rokiric as well. Bloodbraid Elf has never been so at home, and this deck alone might keep Scion of Draco from being a bulk rare. If the Kavu is a 5/5, the Scion is a 4/4 flyer for two that gives all sorts of bonuses to the rest of your creatures. The deck looks like a blast to play, and I want it to be good.

There’s also a few cards that have fallen hard.

Subtlety (down to $30 from a high of $70) – The ability to counter creatures is good, but there’s a lot of decks that aren’t willing to pay the two-card cost. Combo cards are rarely creatures, but there’s a chance this climbs up if the two-mana plays of Territorial and Scion really take off. This is mythic, and at full price it’s awesome to counter a spell and get a 4/4, but control decks aren’t going to play a lot of these when they could just be patient and cast Supreme Verdict.

Cabal Coffers (down to $40 from $80) – Coffers had spiked recently, and that really set the preorder price high:

However, this is going to rebound very well. I’m anticipating that it’ll sink down to the $20 range, and that’s when I’ll be getting as many copies as I can afford. We know how good the card is, and this is the first time it’s been available in large amounts. Whenever this stops falling, that’s your buy-in price, and like I said, I’m hoping for $20. Should it fall farther, I’m in for that many more copies, as this is casual gold.

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: The Cloudy Future of Strixhaven’s Best Card


Today I was going to dive more into that decks that are enabled by commanders from Modern Horizons 2 and I really beat my head against the wall. I thought with Lonis giving us so much to work with that all of the commanders would be the same, but if you look at the lists of cards in these decks, there’s nothing new here and that’s a problem.

Yusri, Fortune's Flame

Flipping coins isn’t new.

Sythis, Harvest's Hand

Enchantress decks aren’t new.

Carth the Lion

“IDK, buy planeswalkers” isn’t new or even advice, really.

These commanders are pretty cool, but with the exception of, I guess Lonis, they’re not doing anything new. Absent a real plan for the next few weeks, I want to check back in on a card that everyone already forgot about because it was one set ago and we have moved on as a people. I’m referring, of course, to the best card in Strixhaven.

The Disputed Champ

How do we determine the best card in Strixhaven? Is it the card played in the most total decks? That’s easy.

OK, not the card I wanted.

How about the card played in the largest percentage of eligible decks? That seems like a more fair way to do it.

No, that’s not it, either. OK, it’s clear that it’s not fair to base it on percentage of eligible decks because colorless cards could go in any deck, and therefore they’re going to have a tougher time beating something in a small number of decks like Fracture. So how about we pick the most-used colorless card in the set?


Look, enough @#$%ing around, this is the best card in Strixhaven.

Can You Elaborate?

No, I don’t think I will.

Wandering Archaic is the second-most-played card in the set, after Archamge Emeritus. True, Fracture has a higher percentage of inclusion, but we’re comparing 15k decks to 62k decks. Since Frostboil Snarl can’t actually go in every deck because it is bound by the color identity of the mana requirements of the commander, Archaic is actually the most-played Colorless card. It’s a monster and it’s not as unfun to play against as people thought at first. It just comes down and solves problems and keeps the player who plays a bunch of spells and makes everyone watch him go off think twice. What’s the future price for this monster, though?

In this TED talk I am going to try and find some cards to compare this thing to and then we’re going to ask ourselves if buying in between $6 and $9 makes any sense. First, let’s figure out how the card ranks in other categories.

These are the last 5 artifact creatures in the Top 50 colorless creatures which makes me think Archaic would be in the top 100. Let’s not forget, the hundreds of thousands of decks these cards are in is counted over the last 2 years whereas Archaic is in 5,100 decks in the last two months. It seems very likely in two years that Archaic will break the Top 50, maybe the Top 100 colorless cards overall. There are a lot of cheap cards here, so it’s not encouraging that a bulk rare like Metalwork Colossus is in as many decks, but I don’t see Archaic plummeting to $1 anytime soon.

Let’s compare apples to oranges if we can – Archaic is in 5,100 decks in the last few months which is 8% of the eligible decks in that period – is it appropriate to compare it to cards played an 8th as much? Maybe, but maybe not. Let’s look at Colorless cards in 8% of the decks over the last two years.

There is obviously some recency bias to the high degree of inclusion we’re seeing with Archaic – it would have to maintain its high played stats to join these titans of the format, but it could, and if it does, we’re not talking about a $1 Metalwork Colossus, we’re talking about a $5 Gilded Lotus with 8 different available printings. If Gilded Lotus is $5 with 8 printings, how much do you love or hate Archaic at $6 with one printing?

While we’re at it, check out the Top 5 just colorless creatures. Solemn gets played a ton, and of course Hart does, too, but if Archaic maintains its current inclusion numbers, it’s in 3rd place with double the numbers of 4th place. It could be in 2% of decks and still flirt with $20.

The card we were all hoping it would be is Tithe, a card that pre-sold on Card Kingdom for $4.

Even being played as much as it is, Tithe still took almost a year to hit $15 and another year to hit $30. If Smothering Tithe is indeed played 4 times as much as Archaic is in the future, Archaic could have even more than the year it took Tithe to really start to pop off in price. Strixhaven is basically forgotten-about already, and with people moving on, $6-$9 appears to be the buy-in price for Archaic, which is basically fine by me.

I think Archaic is the best card in Strixhaven and while I would have preferred it got a little bit lower, $6 is a fine buy-in price and I’m confident it will get to $20. Remember, it doesn’t need to be Smothering Tithe to get to $20 – we don’t need it to hit $50 after a reprint, we just need it to triple up over a year or two, which seems likely. Double-faced cards are harder to reprint.

One hiccup I see is that we’ll see divergence among different printings given that there are multiple versions of Archaic and with consensus split over what the best version is, we basically have to treat it as the second printing Tithe got from the Brawl decks. That said –

I don’t even hate a $15 buy-in if we think the base version can hit $20.

Have I exhausted like my entire word budget trying to convince you to buy one card? I better wrap it up with some under-explained hits, then!

There isn’t a ton here, but since we talked about Archmage Emeritus before, let’s take a second look.

Can you think of a more ideal graph shape for this moment in time? This is just too perfect. It was high at first because of hype and impatience, it tanked as supply ramped up, it stayed stable for weeks and finally, it’s showing signs of perking up a bit. This is exactly what you want a graph to look like when you buy. I feel more strongly about the extended border now that the price has normalized, and foils and non-foils of the extended border are better targets than set non-foil, which is basically the same price as the non-foil these days. If this is in the running for best card in Strixhaven, why decide between this and Archaic and instead why not buy both? I know I am.

Foils of this haven’t dipped enough yet, though I do see the buylist creeping up to meet the retail. I think this card is likely a future $5 foil despite how much they are dumping foils. If I’m wrong it’s because you cornered me and made me have an opinion about foils, something I DID NOT WANT TO DO AND YOU MADE ME. ARE YOU HAPPY?

If you aren’t into foils, just wait for the non-foil to tank and buy a brick, it’s likely a $3 uncommon in the near term. This card makes treasure and all any decks wants to do right now is make treasure.

I have some opinions about this set that aren’t borne out by data year. I think Mortality Spear is overrated and I think Magma Opus is underrated. I put Zimone in 5 decks this month. Will any of that matter financially? I don’t know. But if Strixhaven gives us two monster cards that are both about half as good as Smothering Tithe at making us money, that’s really, really good and about all we can ask from a set.

That does it for me, readers. Until next time!

Early MH2 Nonsense

Modern Horizons 2 won’t be out in paper for more than a week still, but we’ve already had a few days of it being out on MTGO, and that’s resulted in some pretty interesting decklists. Urza’s Saga proved to be an early winner in multiple decks and as such is very expensive right now (I expect it to come down), and Ragavan has been hailed as the best red one-drop ever printed, showing up in a huge number of Legacy decks and a fair share of Modern ones too.

Today I want to have a look at some of the cards that might currently be underestimated, or that have proven some results but are yet to gain traction and pop off.

Living End (Foil)

Price today: $8/$25
Possible price: $20/$50

Firstly, an older deck that’s benefitted from a new-to-Modern card from MH2 – Living End. The deck’s been around in the format for many years now, drifting in and out of relevance, but now that MH2 has introduced Shardless Agent into Modern, people are back on the deck again and performing well with it. Shardless Agent replacing something like Demonic Dread or Ardent Plea is actually big game for the deck, because getting a 2/2 rather than effectively nothing from your Cascade card is enough to push the deck back up a bit.

With some solid performances over the weekend, it might be that Living End is back to stay or it might be that it’ll drop back to tier two after a week or so…but either way, I really like the look of Living End foils right now. We’ve only got two printings of the card with no extra treatments, first in the original Time Spiral and then the reprint in Time Spiral Remastered. Original foils are getting very hard to come by, with only five NM listings on TCGPlayer starting at $25 – and although there are a few more copies in Europe they’re no cheaper, as this is really a Modern-only card. TSR foils are a fair bit cheaper starting at around $8, but supply isn’t very deep on those either as it was printed as a Mythic.

Both versions of these foils seem like great pickups here to climb quickly, especially the older version. When you bear in mind that people buying these foils for their deck will be needing three or four copies at once, the remaining supply could disappear very quickly.

Arcbound Ravager (MCQ Foil)

Price in Europe: €8 ($10)
Price in US: $20
Possible price: $30

Another older deck that’s had a huge resurgence with MH2 is Affinity – a relic of days gone by before Mox Opal got axed from Modern. There are a few new variants flying around at the moment, given new life by cards like Urza’s Saga and Sojourner’s Companion. There are some classic builds and some Hardened Scales builds, and Arcbound Ravager has started to pop off as a result.

We have a few different premium treatments for Ravager now, with the MPS one over $150 now and original Darksteel foils over $100. Here I like the look of the MCQ promo, because although supply has been chewed up in the US already, there are still plenty of copies hanging around in Europe under $10. It might not be the best version of the card, but for the price point in Europe I think it’s an excellent arbitrage opportunity. Affinity could well be back to stay as one of the top decks in Modern, so keep an eye on other pieces of the deck as we get more results from MTGO play.

Witch’s Oven (Foil)

Price in Europe: €1 ($1)
Price in US: $???
Possible price: $10+

Cat Oven decks quickly became a staple in Standard, Historic and even Pioneer soon after Cauldron Familiar and Witch’s Oven were printed in Throne of Eldraine, and even became dominant enough that the Familiar had to be banned in Standard. Since then, similar sacrifice decks have remained popular in Historic and Pioneer, and now that Modern Horizons 2 is here, people are trying things with Oven in Modern.

Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar with Ovalchase Daredevil and The Underworld Cookbook makes for an incredible value engine, and once you get that train going you can quickly power out a Feasting Troll King and/or start pinging people to death with a Mayhem Devil. Feasting Troll Kings have already popped off, and might be here to stay in the deck or might get replaced at some point. However, I think that Witch’s Oven is always going to be a mainstay of this archetype whether it’s in Modern or another format, and foils are looking quite tasty right now.

I’ll give you a moment to go and check TCGPlayer for Witch’s Oven NM foils. Done? Yeah, there aren’t any. Pretty wild. There are a couple of LP and MP copies there but that’s it, so we need to go and look at Europe instead. There are a load of copies under €1 on MKM and I think they’re slam dunks to sell in the US for $5+ immediately, and could easily hit $10 pretty soon. Yes, it’s an uncommon, but it’s only had a single printing nearly 2 years ago and supply is reflecting that. Around 4000 EDH decks on EDHREC back it up a bit too, and until we see another premium treatment of this card it’s looking great.

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.

Too Much, Too Soon

If there’s one thing I wish people would stop doing, it’s pre-ordering cards. 

The prices right now for Modern Horizons 2 are incredibly high due to hype and lack of certainty, two factors that combine with the recent price spikes of older cards to lead to a real ‘What on earth is going on?!?’ sort of feeling.

I’m here to tell you to calm down, to not buy anything yet, and be patient. Let’s talk about some current examples of preorder pricing and examine why these are such bad ideas.

First of all, today’s focus is on the regular frame, nonfoil versions of things. There are some scattered preorders for special frame/special foiling versions of MH2 cards, but frankly, we don’t have enough to support a trend. Most vendors are content to sell what they open, and not over-commit to what’s coming and what’s going to be opened.

Second, most of my pricing is taken from eBay, which makes it relatively easy to find numbers for sold items.

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer (multiple sold at $80 on eBay) – Is this a good card? Absolutely. Is it overpriced because people are talking it up as a new Dreadhorde Arcanist in Legacy? Partially. Having the Dash ability does make this resistant to sorcery-speed removal, but this price is ridiculous. 

It’s not going to hold a price above $50 unless this is literally the best red creature ever printed. I’m going to go out on a limb and forecast that Ragavan will be available for under $20 within six weeks. (I actually think it’ll go even lower, but a 75% loss is already a big drop)

Subtlety ($45) – Force of Negation premiered in the $40 range, hopped up briefly, then settle back down into the $30-$40 range as blue players gained a greater and greater need for the card.

I expect Subtlety to follow a similar path, but I don’t want to be buying right now. If at all possible, I want to be waiting and buying copies in about two months. Remember that Forgotten Realms is due out on July 23, so the hype is going to move and what stores draft will change. (If your LGS is even open!) I think this has a lot of potential in the long term, but $45 for the regular nonfoil is too high a buy-in when I’m expecting a whole lot of this product to be opened.

Grief ($60) – Interesting. Thoughtseize needed less than a year to hit $75, getting near $100 as it became one of the most common spells in Modern. Repeated reprints have made it cheaper than ever, too:

But now we have a no-mana variant, Unmask in a different form, and it offers some truly backbreaking potential turn 1 with Ephemerate (three cards!!!) or even Cloudshift. We know what Thoughtseize can do, financially, but we don’t know how popular this will be. Thoughtseize broke $60 as a rare, and Grief might be worth it at $60. 

My thought, though, is to let the hype settle down and get to the $30-$40 range if you’re thinking about playing with the card. Most prices are going to fall, and this will be no exception. If the card is real, and if paper play is back, this will shoot straight to the moon.

Dauthi Voidwalker ($40) – If Grief is a big player, this will come along too. It’s an excellent aggressive followup to turn one discard, having a 3/2 unblockable that will sometimes be able to cast their huge spell is a winner too. This is also quite overpriced, though, and I’m expecting this to fall by at least half, and more likely to $15 as a rare.

Damn ($15) – The only sweeper that can kill both Thrun, the Last Troll and Gaddock Teeg, this is a phenomenal card. Being able to kill one or kill all is a really potent combination, even if the BB mode is also sorcery speed. This flexibility is going to lead to this seeing a lot of play in both Modern and Commander. I think this will make it back up to $15, given time, but in the meantime it’s going to fall as far as $5-$7.

Now let’s talk about some of the reprints, and where those will be heading.

Fetchlands (3 at $40-$50, 2 in the $30 range) – We’re about to get a lot of fetchlands. Granted, a big chunk of the fetches opened by individuals will be slotted right into decks, but every Collector Booster box is going to come with 3.3 fetchlands, on average. Keep in mind that these are regular rares, and if we’re cracking a ton of product to run drafts at newly-reopened stores, that’s a large amount entering circulation. Flats and Mesa will be under $20, and I think you’ll have a chance to buy Tarn, Misty, and Verdant at under $30. Make sure that you end up with enough fetches for your current decks, and set aside a few extra to sell or trade when they climb back up again.

Cabal Coffers ($60) – Let’s see what the graph looks like for a card that helped get Prime Time banned from Commander, yes?

This hasn’t had a reprint since Planechase in 2009. Twelve years of Commander players getting more and more insistent that they need the big mana, and of them paying bigger and bigger bucks for that big mana.

Coffers is one of the biggest reprints in this set, and it’s a mythic. A lot of money is going to chase the borderless and the borderless foil, and picking these up in regular nonfoil seems likely under $30. I’m going to try and be patient on this one, but it’s going to rebound from this reprint pretty easily.

Patriarch’s Bidding ($16) – I can see why people want to get this at $16. It’s a $40 card from Onslaught. NINETEEN YEARS they waited to reprint this card! Again, a lot of copies are going to get kept by the people who opened them, which will cut off circulation a little, but there’s generations of players who are clamoring for this in whatever tribal deck they are playing. It’s only good for those tribal deck, though, and only the ones with black as a color. As a result, I think this will fall pretty far…all the way to $5 and if I’m lucky, lower still. If it got to $3, I’d buy them all.

Mirari’s Wake ($17) – Another casual star with minimal reprints, Wake got to its cheapest point when it was reprinted in Conspiracy, followed a couple years later by a Commander reprint. This gave a big window for prices to be down and stay there:

The card is too good, though, and as you see, the price has come roaring back. With this printing, we’re going to see a lot of copies circulating, and that’s going to lead to a race to the bottom. I’m sure it will drop to under $10, but I’m not certain how much lower it’ll go and how many copies it’ll take before I have had enough. If it’s $7, don’t you feel buying it all up is the right play, even for the regular frame nonfoil?

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.