I am going to come out and say it: The five gods of Theros make terrible commanders.

I have been playing EDH for a few years now. I’ve had 15 decks at one point, though I am down to 9 now.  I have a combo deck, an all-creature deck, several tribal decks, goofy theme decks, and foiled-out goodstuff decks. Yet I can’t see myself ever making one of the five gods my general. I would be fine with adding them to some of my decks, certainly, but allow me to explain why they are not very good for what they do.

Each of the gods is cheap, I will give you that. Their static abilities have a constant effect on the game so long as they are in play, they are indestructible, and when you are properly devoted,  they can really shine. Nylea, God of the Hunt

That is precisely why they are underwhelming as a general: the devotion requirements.

Each of them adds one to your devotion. That means you are likely going to need at least two, more likely three permanents with in play. (Remember that with a God as a commander, you are restricted to a single color.) Two permanents with two of the mana symbol will get you there, and four other single-symbol permanents is the minimum.

I have an unpleasant truth for you: It is going to be the rare game where you get to attack with the God of your choice more than twice. It is too easy to wipe the board in Commander! It is not tough for your opponents to make sure the other permanents you need are not on the field. Let us not overlook how permanents such as Darksteel Forge and Blightsteel Colossus have taught EDH players the necessity of exiling or tucking (putting them on the bottom of your library,) so do not start thinking that indestructibility is truly invulnerability.

You do not want your Commander to be an accessory. Your Commander is the theme, the defining keystone of your deck. When you choose to be mono-color, you are giving up a lot of the color pie, and it needs to be a worthy tradeoff. Korlash, Heir to Blackblade

If one chooses to take the thematic path of Zombies, there are a range of legends to use. Thraximundar, Sedris, and Lord of Tresserhorn offer all three colors, Grimgrin is two colors of goodstuff, with Korlash, Heir to Blackblade and Balthor the Defiled providing mono-black choices. Each of those legends has an appeal and offers abilities as well as their colors. I went with Balthor because I like reanimating over and over again, but the deck would surely like to have Rhystic Study and Deadapult. 

To choose one of the legendary enchantment creatures is to focus on one color, and the abilities you get for having those Gods in play are notable, but not overpowering. Erebos, God of the Dead is the best, with the card draw almost always useful and the ‘your opponents can’t gain life’ clause is often not irrelevant. He at least can refill your hand and find more gas, but you are going to be spending a lot of mana and life to get there.

Purphoros is especially frustrating, as red does not have enough ways to take advantage of his ability. Thassa gives you that unblockability and scry, but the scry is underwhelming in a format with fewer upkeeps and rampant card draw. Nylea gives your team trample and a very expensive pump effect, while Helios is basically a more expensive, indestructible Mobilization. Heliod, God of the Sun

These are effects that you can put to very good use in Commander, don’t get me wrong. I am planning on adding several of them to assorted decks and kicking some butt. As a general, though, they are not going to be nearly as good as you want them to be.

One quick tip: If you open one of these in foil, don’t be afraid to demand a premium in trade. These are going to be highly sought-after foils, along with their weapons. The card frame in foil is gorgeous, and the casual players who love shiny are going to be clamoring for these cards, so be sure to capitalize on that during trades.

Pro Tour Theros Watch 2013

By: Travis Allen

The day this article goes up, Wednesday October 9th, will be one day before Pro Tour Theros begins our first earnest endeavor into the Mediterranean sun-soaked Standard format. I’m going to point out some cards I’ll be keeping a close watch on over the weekend, and I recommend you do the same.


Advent of the Wurm

Advent of the Wurm

This is one of the cards I most expect to see considerable price movement on in the wake of the Pro Tour. Advent of the Wurm was a 4x in the last winning PT deck, and just put 14 copies into the Top 8 at SCG Cleveland last weekend. The card was originally slated to be at Mythic rarity in its current form until late development changes forced them to push it to rare may or may not have been mythic at some point in design. Simply put, the card’s power level is superbly high and the current price of sub-$4 is way too low for what it is capable of. Advent of the Wurm is one of the top two Selesnya cards in Standard.

I will refrain from rambling about the various ways in which the card is excellent, but suffice to say I feel there’s a very good chance we’ll see it at the Pro Tour, and the price could easily triple from where it is at the moment. How confident am I? I picked up 26 copies myself just a few days ago.


Boon Satyr

While we’re on the green train, I’ll flash this guy in. He did not show up at the last Pro Tour like Advent of the Wurm did, but of course he was not legal then either. He did however have a great showing this past weekend at SCG Cleveland, as well as having been on the receiving end of a lot of praise from various PT-grade players. The lowest he has managed to dip so far was just under $2, but he is now firmly in the $4-$5 range as of Monday the 7th. If he is still in this range as of Wednesday, he could quite easily hit double digits with a strong showing over the weekend.

I will say that unlike Advent of the Wurm, if he does crest $10 that price will be comparatively a lot less stable. Advent of the Wurm is now out of print and supply is at the maximum, which means there won’t be much working to push the price lower if it does see a spike in demand. Boon Satyr, however, is at the start of his journey, and we have nearly a year worth of drafting, MTGO redeeming and box-cracking before his numbers settle. The result of all of this is that if Boon Satyr does indeed pop, I would sell any available copies into the hype quickly.



Prime Speaker Zegana

Prime Speaker Zegana is the guild leader that is seeing the least amount of play relative to power level. Zegana Bant was quite a thing for a stretch there, and she had the ability to run away with the game almost immediately if she resolved alongside any reasonable creature. She’s currently at an astounding $2.50, which means she has absolutely nowhere to go but up if anyone anywhere casts her at any point.

Zegana is strong enough to show up in controlish Bant or BUG lists, as well as act as the curve topper for a more aggressive Simic deck as a means to refill after dumping a slew of massive threats such as Kalonian Hydra. That she is good in various styles of decks is great news for her price potential. Furthermore, she falls on the right side of the new Legend rule. Before we move on, one last tantalizing thought: Corpsejack Menace + Zegana. Aw yiss.


Underworld Cerberus

Underworld Cerberus

Hopping to the other side of the color pie, Underworld Cerberus remains my pick for most likely breakout of the entire Theros set. Has this been cast against you yet? It is obscene. The card is essentially unblockable, which on a 6/6 for 5 in BR is no laughing matter. Should your opponent manage to kill him with something like Murderbore, you get to refill with all the obnoxious creatures your they already dealt with.

Like Zegana, Cerberus can fit into multiple strategies. Following up several turns of pain-in-the-ass creatures like Boros Reckoner with Cerberus means that life will be miserable should anyone remove him. Alternatively, use him in a B/R/x midrangey build alongside a plethora of spot removal to make sure they never actually have three creatures with which to block. I’m pretty close to buying in as it is, and if I see a single copy in a single decklist on Wednesday I’ll make the jump.


Loxodon Smiter

Like Advent of the Wurm, the full set of Smiters was main deck in Wescoe’s PT winning list. There were 12 copies in the Top 8 at Cleveland last weekend, and perhaps most intriguingly he has definitely made his presence felt in Modern. He was all over Standard before rotation, and there is no real reason for that to change. Acting as a giant wall against aggro decks and a huge uncounterable threat against UW/Esper, the righteous elephant puts in a hard day’s work against plenty of foes.The price on Smiter has been rather suppressed lately, but now that we’re properly on the right side of Theros, there is little holding him back. Mature-set Standard staples are typically better than $4, especially when they are multi-format capable.


Bow of Nylea

Bow of Nylea

Admittedly I was pretty gun shy at first about the bow, and to an extent, I still am. However I have heard tale that the card is better than I originally anticipated. It is no colorless 2-mana planeswalker, but every time I cast the card I find myself amazed at just how many abilities there really are. None of the modes are particularly spectacular – I do not think anyone will make that case – but just having access to so many gives you a lot of options in a single slot.

Cards with that many moving parts are frequently misunderstood at first, so it is entirely conceivable we have all overlooked it. I’m not convinced by any means, but I’ll be watching for it just the same. At the very least, if you can convince people to do these at $1 in trade at FNM, you won’t regret it.


Heliod, God of the Sun

I’m lumping Heliod in with Bow of Nylea. I’m not convinced about either, but Heliod did indeed show up both in both Worchester and Waco recently, and like the Bow, there’s a bit of chatter that Heliod is better than people are aware of. He is certainly capable of being played in multiple types of decks, so he does at least have that going for him. Keep watch this weekend to see if he’s peeking out from behind the clouds.


Ruric Thar & Sire of Insanity

When Sire of Insanity was spoiled by @LSV, people were flipping out. Sire hung around for a few weeks, but then quietly slipped into the shadows. Ruric Thar was similarly recognized for being exquisitely punishing to certain strategies, but did not accomplish much for long. I have not heard much chatter about them lately, but they still remain very threatening sixes that are able to hold their own even against the decks they were not built to prey upon. I am not suggesting these two end up $18 or anything, but both are currently available for under $.50 on TCG Player, so it would not take much to see a healthy ROI. Just something to keep in mind.


Reid Duke

Reid has been crushing it this year, and I see now why reason why he would stop now. What makes his banner year so thrilling for the rest of us is just how personable he truly is. Aside from his aversion to actually remembering my name, he’s been supremely pleasant and friendly every time I have spoken with him. My only disappointment is that he will likely win a Pro Tour long before I manage to make it there to congratulate him.

Reid Duke on the beach in Miami

Tune in next week when we review the results of the Pro Tour!

Standard No More – Innistrad Block Cards That Add Future Value to Your Binder, Part 1 of 2

This article series is for anyone that missed the boat on maximizing value from previous Standard staples.

If you’re the average player, to stay competitive in Standard you have had to keep certain cards from Standard up until the last second – even in those final months before a block’s rotation. You know that the cards will go down, but you are forced to hold onto them in order to stay competitive. It is common that players will lose a good chunk of value on cards they’ve held up until rotation.

In this case, the block in question would be Innistrad. What many Standard players may not realize is that even though a card has rotated and they’re left holding the bag, it can still have a life beyond Standard – Modern, Legacy, Commander, and even just general Casual play can still allow a card to maintain or develop a surprising price six months or a year later.

Don’t get me wrong – $30 Huntmaster of the Fells are never going to happen again. Looking beyond that though, there are opportunities for many other cards you may still own.



Let’s review my top cards from the Innistrad block that have left Standard recently and see what you can do with those leftovers.

I will identify what format the card will be desired in (Modern, Legacy, Vintage, Commander, Casual) and why I believe the card will retain value due to this demand.

Today I’ll start with Innistrad, and next week I’ll cover Dark Ascension and Avacyn Restored.


Army of the Damned

Army of the Damned

FORMAT – Commander

Army of the Damned was a terrible, terrible card in Standard. This is why it still sits in your binder – there was simply no place for it in the Standard metagame.

On the other hand, if someone is playing Black in Commander, you can bet that they either have this card in their deck or will want to include it in the future. I expect this card to increase in value over time as Commander players recognize its raw power and add it in decks accordingly. The combination of its evocative flavor and its power in a slow format like Commander make this card a good long term hold.


Balefire Dragon

Balefire Dragon

FORMAT – Commander, Casual

Dragons are a fan favorite and players that have a fascination with the creature type like to collect them.

Mythic rare dragons always deserve careful consideration due to this casual appeal. I believe that Balefire Dragon has a powerful ability that fits in with a Kaalia of the Vast Commander deck, a popular general due to her synergy with two all-star tribes.

Balefire Dragon was also a Standard dud but has the potential to retain its value and increase over time due to casual and commander demand.


Garruk RelentlessGarruk, the Veil-Cursed

Garruk Relentless

FORMAT – Modern, Casual

Garruk is the first Standard powerhouse in this list. Commanding an initial price of $30+ when first spoiled, this incarnation of Garruk got to work quickly making his presence known to the Standard metagame.

Eventually, this version of Garruk was joined by the Primal Hunter, and both took turns being the best Garruk that Garruk could be over the next several months.

In Modern, I believe that Garruk Relentless has potential. He is a solid planeswalker that can fit into multiple strategies especially because of how easy he is to splash.

He is additionally a good Casual target because he is the first transforming planewalker, which makes him unique.

If you’re still holding onto a few Garruk Relentless you very well may see these slowly creep back up over time.


Geist of Saint Traft

Geist of Saint Traft

FORMAT – Modern, Legacy, Commander

Geist not only was a Standard powerhouse that was the key role player in Bant Hexproof decks, but was adopted early on in Modern and Legacy strategies as an uninteractive powerhouse attacker.

Geist of Saint Traft may have dropped down in price on its way out of Standard, but do not expect him to stay below $15 for very long.

Geist has an efficient body and a powerful ability. I expect to see a lot of this card in the future as he is played in tournament tables and casual tables alike.

In fact, I would recommend picking up extra copies of this card if you can while he is down from the Standard rotation lows. If any card on this list is expected to go up, Geist of St Traft is definitely in the top five. This is a great spec target moving forward.


Grimgrin, Corpse-Born

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born

FORMAT – Commander, Casual

Grimgrin was never good in Standard but I knew plenty of people that built Commander decks around this Zombie Warrior legend. I don’t really expect this card to ever break $5, but I doubt it will ever be bulk either. I see it slowly creeping up over time and I expect foils to retain good value.


Liliana of the Veil

Liliana of the Veil

FORMAT – Modern, Legacy, Commander

Liliana is right up there with Geist of Saint Traft in my top five from Innistrad block. Not only did this incarnation of Liliana see a $70 price at its highest in Standard, even now after rotation it has not dropped below $40.

dark confidant


Besides Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant, I expect Liliana to be a running staple in Modern for years to come. Though not played quite as often in Legacy, it can still be seen in plenty of archetypes to keep the price from ever going much lower.

Holding onto Liliana will keep you very happy even just a year from now. I expect players to slowly acquire Liliana over time for Eternal format play. The price will go up with this demand.


Olivia Voldaren

Olivia Voldaren

FORMAT – Modern, Commander

Olivia sees marginal play in a few Modern Jund builds, but otherwise has not done too much else outside of Standard.

I believe that most of the reason that this card will rise over time is that she is a mythic rare vampire that is an amazing Commander card. These two factors, in addition to her potential tournament playability, increases her collectability and makes her a pretty safe investment.


Past in Flames

Past in Flames

FORMAT – Modern

Past in Flames is a tricky target. Currently at bulk mythic prices ($2), I do not believe that the card can go any lower. Despite some players attempting to make the Past in Flames deck viable in Standard, it never made it mainstream. Pure spell-based combo in Standard was something that Wizards wished to avoid as a popular archetype.

Even as a weaker Yawgmoth’s Will, Past in Flames is still powerful. That potential power is why I  think that it will be good to hold onto moving forward. All it takes is one player, or even one new card to break this in Modern and make it more desirable. Because it is a mythic rare, the price shock could be quite surprising if this happens, potentially making the card $10+ overnight.

I don’t know what the future holds in store for Past in Flames, but to me the pros of stashing my copies away outweigh the cons of bulking out.


Hinterland Harbor

Innistrad Checklands (Clifftop Retreat, Isolated Chapel, Hinterland Harbor, Sulfur Falls, Woodland Cemetery)

FORMAT – Modern, Commander

Though the checklands have fallen out of Standard and seen their price plunge because of this, moving forward it will be a good idea to hold onto them (or perhaps even start collecting them) in anticipation of Modern usage.

The Innistrad checklands are unusual because they will follow a different path from the core set checklands. They only had one printing, as opposed to the multiple printings of the core set checklands, resulting in less severe devaluing than their core set counterparts.

Each of them can be currently had for about $2-$3 a piece, which for now is still pretty good. They should slowly creep back up over time until they are reprinted again. I don’t expect them to be reprinted for a while, so until they do they will marginally increase over time.


Parallel Lives

Parallel Lives

FORMAT – Commander, Casual

Even though this card is not Doubling Season, it is the closest we are going to get for a while. For years Doubling Season was worth no more than a few dollars, right up until Commander became a format. Casuals then snapped them up pretty quick for decks.

Parallel Lives will follow a similar path and will increase in value as time goes on. I do not think it will see Doubling Season prices of $20 or more (foils probably will) but it will certainly gain value due to its casual demand.


Rooftop Storm

Rooftop Storm

FORMAT – Commander, Casual

Another very flavorful card that I believe will retain casual appeal for a long time.

This card allows for infinite combos in U/B Zombie decks and other shenanigans. It will only get better over time as more Zombies are printed.

This card is definitely a sleeper. I don’t expect it to raise much over time until a powerful Zombie is printed that really pushes Rooftop Storm to the edge.


Snapcaster Mage

Snapcaster Mage

FORMAT – Modern, Legacy, Vintage, Commander, Casual

You can feel very comfortable holding Snapcaster Mage after his Standard rotation. This is my number-one card for long term gains. He will see play in every format that he is legal in moving forward. Any deck that plays blue at some point considers if they want to run Sanpcaster.

The best comparison I can make to Snapcaster is Dark Confidant. He will stay around $15-$20 for a while, maybe even a few years, but expect him to slowly creep up over time until he hits $40-$50+.


Invisible Stalker

Invisible Stalker

FORMAT – Casual

The first uncommon that I am marking for long term gains. This is the most powerful uncommon from the Innistrad set, so I expect him to keep his current price of $1.50 and slowly creep up over time until he sees a reprinting. Casuals love this card because it is an efficient unblockable creature that they can Voltron while not worrying about whether their opponent will blow him up.

He will not see Path to Exile or Spell Snare levels of increase, but will always trade well over time to casual players.

Tune in next week for part 2 when we finish by looking at Dark Ascension and Avacyn Restored.

Where’s the Price Drop?

A few weeks back, I posted a list of cards I expected to get low in price, then creep back up as casual demand increased.

Some of those cards did not drop quite as much as I expected, and I want to talk about why I think that is. Ring of Three Wishes

I’m going to focus on Primeval Bounty as one example. While I was right about many of those cards, the Bounty is still $7! Now that we’re in Theros season, less M14 is going to be opened and the price on Bounty might start creeping upwards, which would really run contrary to my expectations. I expected Bounty to bottom out like Ring of three Wishes or Rise of the Dark Realms, and it has not.

So why was I wrong about this? I thought it would hit bulk prices, and it’s been far above that!

In case you don’t know, I’m a teacher and I take this responsibility seriously. After I give a test, if the whole class misses one question, then it is probably my fault. So what are the potential reasons for me to misdiagnose the card this badly?


Reason #1: Casual appeal

Demand for Bounty has stayed high enough to keep this price where it is. It’s that good in casual formats, and playing with it is just value all over the place. It gives life, creatures, and counters, all for doing stuff you would do anyway.

This is a card that people open in an event, realize how powerful it is in play, and immediately run home and add it to a deck. I confess I tried adding it to my two creature-centric EDH decks and it was underwhelming to me. I expect a lot out of cards in my decks, after years of tweaking to get each deck where I want it. I underestimated the appeal of this card.

For someone as focused on casual formats as I am, I might have allowed my personal experience to influence my thinking too much.


Reason #2: Standard

There have been decks using this card in Standard, though it is not getting a ton of attention. It has been just popular enough to nudge its price up a few bucks, and I did not see a six-mana enchantment with zero immediate effect being good enough in Standard.

This is likely because I do not play enough Standard to make the assessment of how good such a slow card can be. Next time, I will consult with some other players who can give me a better outlook on the speed and nature of the format.


Reason #3: Burnout

Wizards of the Coast does not release specific sales information. We do not know how much of each set gets sold, and that is probably for the best. Specific information on how many copies of a certain card exist would be prime information for speculators and those seeking to artificially raise prices. What we do know is that Magic has been consistently growing and breaking its own sales records, though.

However, the Core Sets are not the biggest sets in terms of sales. Ideally, they should move a lot of product because it’s summertime. Kids and parents have more free time, and many game stores have extended summer hours. The fall blocks usually sell more packs though because of their story lines  flavorful worlds, and unique prerelease experiences. (The Helvault, the Guild Packs, The Hero’s Path, etc.) 

The Hero's Path








This summer there were two factors working in concert to overshadow M14:

1)    Modern Masters came along a month before M14 was released. Not only did that eat into the usual buildup and spoiler season, it took a lot of budgets with it.

2)    Theros was getting teased and spoiled all through the summer, taking attention and excitement away from the Core Set.

Granted, these factors haven’t stopped the Ring of Three Wishes from being a touch over a dollar, or Rise of the Dark Realms from being $2.50. But I do believe that there’s been less M14 opened, and that in conjunction with larger demand than I anticipated, might be enough.


Reason #4: Redemption

This was brought to my attention by those who take the time and energy to collect and redeem a full set on Magic Online. It’s gotten significantly more expensive to redeem a set, from $5 up to a whopping $25, which does not even take into consideration the costs to acquire all of the cards. Anyone who runs a trade bot will find it is not too difficult to pick up complete sets, and redeeming them for $5 plus shipping was an easy choice. Now at $25, the margin for profit is much smaller, which likely has led to many less redemptions.

It’s worth mentioning that set redemption for M14 has only been available since the beginning of September. It is possible we haven’t seen the full impact of the MTGO redemptions, which may still reduce the price of M14 cards like Primeval Bounty.

I was wrong about Primeval Bounty, and several other cards in M14. These are four potential reasons that may have occurred, but it may be something I haven’t thought of. It’s not easy to look back and admit when I’m wrong, but it’s a necessary part of making predictions. Self-evaluation is a necessary process for us financial types, as it keeps us credible and gives both us and our readers an opportunity to learn from mistakes.