The Fateful Eight

We’re pretty well set in Zendikar right now, and so far, we don’t have many updates about Commander: Legends. 

What’s coming, though, is that in about eight weeks, you can buy Commander Collection: Green, an eight-card reprint set available in foil and nonfoil. We know the cards, we know the dates. We also know that the distribution model is surprisingly clear-cut, though actually getting the cards is going to be trickier than you think.

First, the basics. Eight cards, December 8, 2020. All WPN stores can get the regular version of this, and I found it pre-ordering online for $50 pretty easily. What you can’t easily find is a preorder for the foil version, only available at Premier-level WPN stores. As a point of reference, there are 48 of those stores in the continental US.

Just as an idea, if I saw the premium version on sale for $150 or less, I’d buy it. Two of these cards have never been in foil before, there’s new art on all of them, and the super-limited quantity is very attractive to collectors.

Let’s talk about these cards and where I expect prices to go. 

Bane of Progress (nonfoils are $8) – There’s no foils of this, and it hasn’t been printed enough to bring the price down farther. It’s at that sweet spot where one printing every few years keeps the supply and demand balanced. The price has trended upwards, even given the loss of a dollar since the Collection was announced:

I’d expect this version of the card to start out at $8 and trend upwards. Preorders for the nonfoil generally bear that out, but this is one of the first-time foils. I can’t find anyone preselling individual foils, so my guess is that these start at $30, spike to $50+, and settle in at about $40. It’s entirely possible that I’m way off, though: There’s only going to be a few thousand foils in existence.

Command Tower (nonfoils are $1, foils are at $90/$150) – The nonfoil should be a buck, given that all the other versions are the same. Maybe $2, if you’re lucky. 

The foil version, that’s primed for a huge ticket. We’ve got the Judge foil for about $150, and the Commander’s Arsenal version for $90. Given that, I’d say $100 is a safe bet and maybe $200 is possible. The CA version is most likely the rarest, based on numbers and age, but the allure of this super-rare and newer version will have an effect too. Plus, people have shown that the CA foiling process is too close to the FTV process and is therefore less desired. The only thing stopping me from going further on that is that Commander Legends is going to have foil Extended Art versions of the Tower. That’s going to soak up some of the demand and some of the money.

Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury ($13 foil, same for nonfoil) – So the original version in C14 was nonfoil, but the Commander Anthology gave us regular-size foil versions. We can compare apples to apples here, and I wouldn’t expect the prices to be high on this. Somewhere around $8-$10 for the nonfoil, and something reasonable like $20 or less for the nonfoil. I’m not expecting people to pay a huge bonus for something still in the same frame. The original isn’t a huge card in Commander but it is listed in 5000 decks online.

Omnath, Locus of Mana ($30 nonfoil, $45 FTV, $120 pack foil) – This price is reflective of a tiny supply: original Worldwake (January 2010), and FTV: Legends (August 2011). That’s nine years, and it was a mythic in the original! The Commander demand isn’t high enough for this price. I’m expecting a pretty severe correction here, and if you have spare Omnaths, I’d be a seller. It’s going to be hard for the nonfoil to hold a price of $20, as people buy their set and sell off what they aren’t using. The foil should be somewhere in the $60-$80 range, I think, even with new art and the appeal of being in this set, the demand just won’t be there. 

Seedborn Muse (nonfoils $10-$17, foils $25-$200) – There’s a lot of outliers here because the original printing was waaaay back in Legions, that’s 2003 and older than a lot of current players. This is one of the iconic Commander cards, being in 29,000 decks and causing endless eyerolls. It’s also quite the rollercoaster when it comes to reprints, see if you can spot the reprint timing:

Each time it was printed, it recovered. Seedborn is a card that works in so many decks, I imagine a lot of copies that get opened don’t make it to the market. Price-wise, I expect the nonfoil to be around $7 but then climb upwards again until its next reprint. For the foils, we have a lower boundary of $25 from Battlebond and the $200 from Legions. I suspect the new foil will be above the 9th/10th edition prices, but not too high. Somewhere around $75 sounds right after the dust has settled.

Sol Ring (nonfoils about $2-$3, foils from $40-$500) – The nonfoil should land in the area of all the other nonfoil Commander printings, maybe a little higher. They are just everywhere! The foils, though, there’s some competition going on. The FTV is $45 or so, with the Magicfest version right there, but the only other foil versions are the Judge foil at $400+ and the Masterpiece at $500+.

I don’t think this is a $100 version, especially if we get an EA foil version in Commander Legends. Somewhere around $60 feels right for this.

Sylvan Library ($40 for nonfoils, $110 foils) – I’m not counting the Legends version yet, because it’s so old and so rare, it warps data. The Library is in a whopping 40k Commander decks online, about 1 in 5 decks that can run it do so. This $40 price makes you feel real good if you bought in during EMA:

A solid riser and a Commander staple, with foils from EMA and Commander’s Arsenal. I suspect this version will be the most expensive foil, both because not many are going to be printed and because lots of people who buy this set are going to slot the card into a deck. I’m hoping the Library falls in price back down to the $20 range, so I can make a ton off of it again.

Worldly Tutor ($30 for nonfoil) – This is no slouch in the Commander world, being in 26k decks, pretty impressive for a card that was only in Mirage and then an uncommon in 6th edition. The current price feels like it has room to drop, given that it puts the card on top of your deck instead of in your hand. Tutoring effects have gotten better, but there’s a lot of combo potential with Worldly Tutor. 

I am pretty sure that the nonfoil will drop to $15, give or take, but the foils are another matter. I won’t be shocked if those crack $100 in the initial frenzy, and die down into the $80 range.

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: Emerging Trends


I’m going to post the EDHREC Top Commanders from last week and then from this week and I want you to tell me if you notice anything leaping out at you.

Here is last week.

Here is this week. This week’s makes a lot more sense to me, I have to be honest. We got an influx of decks as people finally got ahold of the cards and began building, something that didn’t make sense to me at first but which data continues to repeatedly bear out.

Charix really slid because it’s a bad commander and meme decks don’t maintain their popularity for long. Kaza slid and was overtaken by Verazol, which makes sense to me (though Verazol sucks, too) and Phylath is poised to crack the Top 5. I have to imagine Tazri is overtaken by Phylath next week. The real elephant (elemental?) in the room is the jump Ashaya took week to week. Omnath went from 164 decks to 362, an increase of 120% and Ashaya increased from 31 to 100 decks, an increase of 255%. That’s quite a leap in popularity and just like we did when Akiri leapt, we’re going to look at what’s in play.

Suddenly creatures count as lands, which means anything that untaps lands can untap creatures, too. People seem to be really fixating on that aspect of it. However, the highest synergy score belongs to a card that’s bananas in this deck.

Card Kingdom is charging twice what TCG Player is for this card and that’s actually not new. Timber Protector goes gangbusters on that site and they have a hard time keeping it in stock. It’s not quite at an all-time high on Card Kingdom, but don’t expect that to stay the case. This is an entirely new axis of demand for this card and its current, 63 un-sleeved card casual demand isn’t going away. This is the card I feel most strongly about because it makes all of your creatures and Forests indestructible and has a nice, solid body attached. You don’t want someone to wipe your board with an Acid Rain, do you? Copies on TCG Player under $8 are drying up, you might want to move fast. Check out lesser known sites to mop up the cheap stuff if you don’t want to overpay.

I feel less strongly about Patron of the Orochi but a lot of what I said about Timber Protector applies here, as well. The main difference is that the price has been trending up lately rather than remaining flat which means some of our ability to realize gains on this card has evaporated. However, this is useful in other decks in EDH in ways that Timber Protector is not (Patron is in 1125 decks versus 852 for Timber Protector, a difference that seems small but it’s about 32%) which explains why it’s crept up lately. I still think if you can find $6 or $7 copies of this, you can get out above $12 fairly trivially. CK is giving $7.25 in store credit for Patron and $8.32 for Timber Protector NOW, imagine how high those numbers will get once reality catches up. CK has known these cards were monsters before now, and they’re currently high synergy inclusions in the second-most popular deck in the new set. Seems like a slam dunk to me.

As an aside, I hate saying “slam dunk” to denote something that’s obvious. If slam dunks are so easy, why is there a competition devoted to them? Why don’t other sports get sayings like that? “I love this at its current price, it’s an empty net goal, but the kind where Kucherov doesn’t skate beside you and chop you on your leg when you score it because he’s a sore loser and everyone forgot about that because he hoisted the cup last night and I hope he chokes on it.” Yep, OK. I see why we use “slam dunk” now.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the top cards are all Green deck staples, but there may be some surprises.

OK, so while this isn’t a surprise, per se, I think it’s one of the best ‘walkers right now and it’s underpriced.

Standard really propped this price up and it going down means we have an opportunity to grab cheap copies. War of the Spark is a set where a lot of the value is spread out over a lot of cards and when that happens, the box prices could really go nuts making the singles harder to get affordably, which can create a feedback loop. I think if CFB only wants $3.75 for a planeswalker that makes all of your forests tap for an extra green, we should take them up on their generous offer. Anything under $5 is correct here and this has already demonstrated it can get to $10.

The price of Ranger isn’t at an all-time high, but the buylist price is and that’s something worth noting. Anything under $5 on this seems correct, also. Ranger can pick itself up to circumvent the “only use this ability once per turn” restriction, which makes this a very good combo enabler with Ashaya out. It sees play in multiple formats in Elves decks, also, and there aren’t too many copies floating around despite its rarity given how long ago Visions was. It’s not just these copies that make sense, either.

Why not shell out $120 clams for the FNM foil? Oh, because you’re not a complete lunatic? OK, then, message received. I assume the spike in 2018 had something to do with Pauper – I don’t always catch every price increase or know why it happened but good for you if you had these at the old price. The price is declining steadily, but if you happen to find these mispriced somewhere or have them in your collection, these are worth more than you perhaps thought.

This isn’t Ashaya-specific, but these are probably at the floor. Double Masters was opened for about 45 minutes and now people are on to the next thing, and the next thing is a set with Landfall creatures. This will be reprinted again, possibly in Commander Legends, but I think they’ll wait a few years in between and trade off with Burgeoning like they have been.

Ashaya is a fun, unique deck and it lets green be green. People are going to continue to be very excited about the insane plays the deck can pull off and green staples, already great buys, will become even better. That does it for me this week. As always, I welcome dissent in the comments section. Until next time!

The Watchtower 09/28/20 – Back At It Again With The Competitive Formats

Following straight on from last week’s article, I’m back this week talking about more competitive Magic cards. Zendikar Rising has continued to make waves in Modern and Pioneer (as well as completely annihilating the Standard metagame, oops?), and if I’m honest there’s some pretty exciting stuff going on in those formats at the moment. Modern and Pioneer, that is, not Standard…

As well as a couple of new decks being formed, we’ve also seen a surprising number of cards from Zendikar Rising being adopted into current top tier decks, with impressive results for the first week or so of brewing. Last night’s Manatraders Modern tournament saw the ‘landless’ Undercity Informer combo deck make top 8 featuring a full suite of the new MDFC bolt lands, as well as Death’s Shadow making good use of the new Scourge of the Skyclaves and Agadeem’s Awakening.

Skyclave Apparition (EA Foil)

Price today: $10
Possible price: $25

As a Spirits player in both Modern and Pioneer, I was pretty excited when Skyclave Apparition first got previewed. A 2/2 flying Spirit for 3 mana that is really a better Oblivion Ring on a stick was definitely something to get hyped abo- hang on what? It doesn’t have flying?? But it’s a Spirit! And look at the art, it’s blatantly floating!

I, like many others, was caught out at first by this one, and a lot of people dismissed it as a roleplayer due to the lack of evasion. But if we dig a bit deeper into the card, I think it’s secretly really good. First off, we can exile any non-land, non-token permanent CMC 4 or less with it. Other than a couple of problematic things like Primeval Titan, that hits pretty much every relevant permanent in Modern and Pioneer, which is a great start. But the best bit is that your opponent never gets their thing back if Skyclave Apparition leaves play; they only get an Illusion token for their troubles. Imagine being able to exile a Tef3ri or Uro with this, and they’ll only be left with a textless 3/3 if they deal with your Spirit.

Outside of an actual Spirits deck, Skyclave Apparition has already popped up in multiple 5-0 Modern Death & Taxes lists, as well as featuring heavily in the sideboard of Humans decks. It’s a good replacement for Deputy of Detention, which although can sometimes get extra value by removing more than one permanent, is quite susceptible to removal (especially with all the Lightning Bolts flying around in Modern at the moment). Skyclave ensures they won’t get their Seasoned Pyromancer or Liliana back, which means you can generally run it out without much fear – and if you are playing it in a Spirits shell then you have things like Rattlechains and Drogskol Captain to protect it.

Enough of my fawning over the card though, let’s have a look at some real data. If we take a look at some EA foil rares with similar play patterns from older sets, we can easily see that $10 is just too cheap for this card. Torbran, Thane of Red Fell EA foils are over $25 with a sharp ramp towards $40. Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Thassa’s Oracle, although having slightly larger play patterns than I expect to see from Skyclave, are $60 and $40 cards respectively. I think my point is evident; this is a great card in multiple formats and $10 is definitely too cheap for the EA foils. I’ve already ordered my personal copies up to play with, and will probably be picking some extras up soon as well.

MDFC Bolt Lands

Price today: $10
Possible price: $20

As I mentioned in my intro, the new MDFC bolt lands have spawned some new decks in Modern. You can now play a ‘landless’ Goblin Charbelcher deck with 20 or so MDFCs to function as your mana sources, including 4 each of Turntimber Symbiosis and Shatterskull Smashing. As well as this, there’s the Undercity Informer combo deck which mills itself out and puts a bunch of Vengevines and Narcomoebas into play to attack for lethal.

Aside from the combo potential of these lands (which is definitely nothing to be sniffed at), what they really offer is our favourite thing in MTG Finance: open-ended synergy. A lot of decks in almost every format are now able to play some of these almost for free, replacing a basic land here or there to offer a slightly more painful manabase, but giving access to some powerful late-game spells as well. How many times have you drawn a land late in the game that you wish were a spell? Well now it can be both.

I think that the main targets here are Agadeem’s Awakening and Turntimber Symbiosis. Agadeem’s Awakening is already being played in Death’s Shadow lists and other Lurrus builds in both Modern and Pioneer, and Turntimber Symbiosis is slotting into Primeval Titan and Devoted Druid decks. On top of this, I think that they go right into a lot of EDH decks to replace a basic land or similar. I think that Emeria’s Call and Sea Gate Restoration will mostly be reserved for the combo decks (but also see some EDH play), with Shatterskull Smashing landing somewhere in the middle of the five.

The fact that these are mythics means that their price isn’t going to dip as easily as a rare might as we head into peak supply. I like picking up Agadeem’s Awakening and Turntimber Symbiosis at $10 or lower, and if they trend down then pick more up as cheap as you can find them. The applications for these lands are only going to increase moving forwards, so keep an eye out for any new tech utilising them.

Seasoned Pyromancer

Price today: $28
Possible price: $60

Rounding things off today with a more familiar card, Seasoned Pyromancer was one of the cards from Modern Horizons that I think Wizards absolutely nailed in terms of power level, and that’s backed up by the amount of play it’s seen without being dominating. It’s a superb value engine and has found homes in the RG and Jund midrange decks in Modern, as well as being a great later-game play for Burn and Prowess decks to filter through cards.

Seasoned Pyromancer has already made people a decent amount of money since it was printed last year (although it feels like it was longer ago than that), but I think it’s still got room to grow. If we compare it to another mythic from Modern Horizons, Wrenn and Six is still a $50 card despite having arguably narrower applications in Modern and being banned in Legacy.

There’s a steep ramp formed from $28 on TCGPlayer, with just 20 vendors before it hits $50. It’s already more expensive than that in Europe, with the cheapest copies over $35, and although supply is deeper, this is indicative of more competitive play starting up again outside the US. Once paper play picks back up in the States, it won’t be long before the cheaper copies drain out and push this card over $50. It’s an open-ended value engine that probably doesn’t have a reprint due for at least another year, by which time you can be in and out on this with a healthy profit.

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.

What makes a Bad Spec?

Dear reader, this has been a long time coming. It’s a joke that many like to make, that there are no bad specs, only ones that haven’t arrived yet. However, between my bad moves and those that others have posted about, there are some rules for the things to avoid at all costs.

This is not a comprehensive list of all bad specs, but the guidelines for the things I’ve seen go bad and the things that haven’t arrived yet. Some of these, I’ve done, and regretted ever since.

One thing I’m not listing here that I’m sure you’re thinking: I’ve left off mistakes around banned cards. Anticipating bans was, until recently, not a great endeavor. I freely admit that I’ve got a stack of Prophet of Kruphix in my failed spec box, hearkening back to it being the best creature ever. Could I have anticipated that it was too good? Possibly. I’m not going to be cruel to those who got hit with the banhammer, though.

Mistake #1: Buying too late/FOMO

This is the main thing I see in the world, and it’s something I get asked about a lot by my friends. “This card is spiking hard right now! Do I buy it?” 

Invariably, my reply is no. It’s exceedingly rare to buy in on a card when it’s started a fast rise from its low point, yet still buy in low enough that you can exit with profit made. Let’s look at an example of a fast rise:

There are slower rises worth getting in on. When Field of the Dead rose to $5 off of EDH play and Modern use, despite the bans, that’s a card worth thinking about because Wizards rarely reprints banned things and this had room to grow.

The meteoric risers, though, those you want to avoid, because you don’t know what the price will be settling at. There are other places to put your money, I promise.

Mistake #2: Confusing high demand with low supply

There are two basic reasons why a card is expensive: Either lots of people want it and are willing to spend for it, or only a few people want it and there were only a few copies of the card in the first place. There are a lot of old cards which don’t have a huge supply, and very slow demand over the years has made that card expensive. Most of Portal: Three Kingdoms falls into this realm, as an example. The cards in that set are crazy expensive because they are incredibly rare. When reprinted, and given even a moderate boost in copies, that tends to tank the price. Originals might hold their price, as part of a very rare set, but the new ones are going to be a fraction of the cost. This is why 7th edition foils command such a premium–there are not a lot of collectors who are determined to get a full set of the first Core Set in foil, but there’s enough of them to create some incredible price gaps.

In terms of more recent cards with this problem: Mana Echoes is a card I don’t want to spec on, even though I’m really high on most of Double Masters. Let’s take a look at the price chart for Mana Echoes:

Clearly, the original copies took a dive when the new version showed up at mythic. Being at mythic is likely why the drop is only this much so far. I suspect it’s got farther to drop, because it’s a card that doesn’t have a huge demand pattern. It’s only in about 3500 decks online, and that’s troubling. It wants you to play a tribal deck, and in red. Plus you need to use a ton of colorless mana, and that’s not an easy set of characteristics to match.

Mistake #3: Fringe card in a new deck

I have a dozen foil copies of Eldrazi Mimic in my spec binder. I bought these relatively cheap, at $3 or so, when they were new and after the initial rush had worn off. I saw what the Eldrazi decks were doing, it was the cheapest of the cards, being so new, and I dove in.

And that was four years ago.

I haven’t had a chance to sell these for anything like $3 yet, so these are going to sit, stagnating, soaking up money I could have used more proactively, instead of spending $60 on the worst four-of in a deck that caught a ban right after I bought in. There’s a chance they will be good again, but four years is a very long time. 

Mistake #4: This ‘should’ be good! (aka The Gut Feeling)

In July 2019, we got a hint of the mechanics for the Commander decks that year. We found out the themes would be Madness, Populate, Morph, and Flashback. I wrote a whole piece about cards to run out and buy in anticipation. One of the cards I highlighted was Avacyn’s Judgment in foil, figuring that it ought to be in the deck and having the foil is where I wanted to be, as people built around the new Madness commander.

So I followed my own advice, and bought about 50 copies of the card, averaging a dollar each. And here’s the graph:

I’ve made nothing from this, and again, it’s just sitting there, a brick of wasted potential. Combine this spec with the Mimic, plus a couple others, and I could have had a dual land, or anything else with a strong growth curve. 

It’s harder to highlight where I went wrong on this card, though. This is an awesome effect, but people weren’t in a hurry to foil out their Anje Falkenrath decks. The deck never really caught on, being listed only 1700 times on EDHREC. It’s the #49 commander for this color identity, but maybe if the commander had been the flavor of the month, the spec would have paid off better.

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.