Tag Archives: Commander 2015

Let’s Get Supplemental

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Back in December, I decided to have some fun with an article. With Standard largely solved at the time and Modern in a lull, I took the opportunity to look ahead to 2016, and made some bold predictions. Looking back at that article, things turned out pretty well, as Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger went from the $15 I called it at then to $30. While I hope I saved or made people money with that call, it’s actually the less interesting one to talk about today.

“The Summer 2016 Specialty Release will be Multiplayer-focused

Let’s take a brief walk through history.

2009: Planechase

2010: Archenemy

2011: Commander

2012: Planechase 2012

2013: Modern Masters

2014: Conspiracy

2015: Modern Masters 2015

The Modern Masters sets throw it off over the past few years, but if you look back at the history it’s pretty clear that Wizards highly values a multiplayer-centric release during the summer. The annual Commander decks have taken some pressure off of this trend and made room for Modern reprints, but I have to believe that 2016 takes us back to multiplayer land.

My prediction? Archenemy 2. The inclusion of Surge — and multiplayer-centric cards in general in Oath of the Gatewatch — is not a coincidence, and I don’t believe that Matt Tabak’s seemingly-random reference to the Archenemy in this article is either.

Archenemy 2016. Maybe.”

Okay, so I get half credit here. While we didn’t receive Archenemy 2, we did get our multiplayer set in Conspiracy 2, though it remains to be seen what the set’s full title actually is (IS BRAGO KING ETERNAL OR NOT?!? I NEED TO KNOW). Or maybe I only get a third credit because they also announced Eternal Masters as one* of our summer sets. I don’t know; it’s all confusing in 2016.

If that were all there was to this, I wouldn’t have approached the topic of supplemental sets. But I’ve been kicking around this article for awhile and Conspiracy 2 is simply the latest in the line of supplemental sets. And while they may not all be of equal interest to us, the fact is they are becoming more and more important financially. I’m going to focus on the Commander series today, and circle back next week to handle the Planechase, Archenemy and Conspiracies of the world. I’ve been posting about a lot of these cards in the ProTrader forums over the past few weeks, and there’s been some great discussion about the future of some of these there, though the following card took us all by surprise.

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As you can see, this is a seemingly random buyout, but it’s far from the first when it comes to these sets. Take, for example some of the other cards in that set. We saw major price corrections on Damia, Sage of Stone, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave and XX a while back, and it seems Magmatic Force has joined them.

This one came as a particular surprise because I’ve kept a pretty good eye on Commander over the past few months, and it didn’t look like any more of the cards were primed for a spike. Even those with a little growth still had a ton of stock left, so this came as a bit of a surprise to me Tuesday morning. That said, it only reinforces my standing theory: these spikes are due to scarcity more than anything else. Yes, they’re good cards that see a decent amount of play, but the truth is there’s just not that many of these cards out there in 2016, a full five years after the first Commander set released.

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Commander sets are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to supplemental products over the past five years, and today I want to do a deep dive into these to discover any potential opportunities.

Commander (June 2011)

Not exactly Wizards’ first foray into this market, but the original Commander set was one of the first times they experimented with putting major new cards into a supplemental product. The results were enlightening, if not ideal.

Scavenging Ooze may be super affordable now (on that note, it’s showing some momentum and is likely headed upward before too long – fair warning), but when Commander came out ScOoze was pushing well past $40 and sold out everywhere. Wizards didn’t anticipate that the set would be as popular as it was, and it sold out very quickly and led to shortages.

At least, some of them did. The deck with ScOoze was the first to go, and not long after was the Angel deck with Kaalia. Meanwhile, Political Puppets set on the shelves for months. As players flocked to pick up the “good EV” sets, the others were ignored. Which, in my opinion, is a big reason why Flusterstorm is now over $60 and the most expensive card in the set.

But it’s far from the only card from the set to undergo some movement recently. We’ve seen price corrections in the past year on stuff like Collective Voyage, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, Damia, Sage of Stone and more.

Which begs the question – is there anything left from this set to invest in?

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Riku is the most striking of the bunch. Seriously, this thing is going to see a correction up to at least $15 in the next two or three months. There’s too much momentum in the graph and dwindling supply for it to stay sub-$10 long.

But RIku isn’t the only one worth looking at. The following cards all have some things in common: steady demand, slowly increasing price and shrinking supply. Sooner or later these things converge and hit a breaking point, and a major price correction of 20-30% or more occurs.

  • Aura Shards
  • Martyr’s Bond (this one has moved a decent amount already, but keep an eye on this as it could go higher).
  • Homeward Path
  • Propaganda
  • Wrexial, the Risen Deep
  • Champion’s Helm
  • Austere Command
  • Zedruu the Greathearted

I’m not saying to go out and buy these cards and watch them spike in the next two weeks. But I am saying that almost all of these (some more than others) fit the Magmatic Force profile, and could easily spike in the same way over the next six months. If you’ve considered picking any of these up, now is the time.

Commander 2013

Apparently Wizards didn’t learn from the Scavenging Ooze debacle, because they repeated it with True-Name Nemesis. Everyone’s favorite Merfolk (just kidding, mine is Silvergill Adept) came out of the gates at $50 as it completely reshaped Legacy, teaming up with buddy Stoneforge Mystic to wear all the equipment and wreck opponents.

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Then again, maybe Wizards learned something, because this time they flooded the market with copies of Mind Seize, the deck containing both True-Name and Baleful Strix. This had the effect of lowering True-Name to $15, though it still messed up the dynamics of the full release on the market.

True-Name itself seems fairly constant at $15, but what about the rest of the set?

  • Primal Vigor. Spiked a while back in the most obvious-to-predict jump ever, and has recovered from where it settled to near an all-time high again of $8. While I have no doubt this can double in the next year or two, it’s also got to be on Wizards’ list of a reprintable targets. Still, nothing not to like in the short-to-medium term.
  • Thousand-year Elixir. There’s definitely something to like here. This was pushing $10 when it had only one printing, and it’s currently sitting at its highest price (just under $3) since its release. Stock is there for both printings, but there’s a lot of momentum here and that stock won’t last forever. Maybe looking at a year before the true “spike” on this, but worth picking up now if you want them.
  • Sanguine Bond. At $2, this is finally rebounding from a mess of reprints. For those who don’t remember, this was $10-15 five years ago, and after being pushed to near-bulk by reprints in the last few years it’s starting to rebound. This is one of those you can nearly guarantee will be $5-8 within 18 months.

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  • This is moving as well. We can use the original Commander as a baseline for a lot of these cards, and like the original set this set seems apt to experience some spikes as well, and soon.
  • Bane of Progress. Hurt by a second printing, this is near-bulk right now despite being enormously powerful. Don’t lose these in your bulk box.

Commander 2014

Another Commander set, another one with low-print run cards with rising prices and dwindling supply. Here’s the highlights.

  • Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury. Not the most powerful planeswalker objectively, Freyalise is nevertheless a solid option in most decks that can play her, and has been showing some growth this year. Not perilously low on supply or anything, but it also doesn’t feel like this will be cheaper than the $6 it is now ever again.
  • Ghoulcaller Gisa has actually already gone crazy, and I doubt there’s a ton of short-term upside left at $5. But this is an excellent example of what other cards in this set could do over the next year or two.
  • Emeria, the Sky Ruin. Solid growth on this over the last year, and it shows no signs of slowing. If this doesn’t get reprinted, there’s almost no doubt it will be $10 within the next two years, and if things break right it could get there even faster.
  • Caged Sun. I went very deep on these when they were first printed in New Phyrexia, and they represented strong and safe money. The reprint came to me as a chance to pick up even more copies on the cheap, and I love picking these up around $3.
  • Rite of Replication. I’ll hit this one here even though it was also in Commander 2015, but this represents a chance to grab this previously $10 card at a buck. It’s a long-term hold, but a sure bet at current prices.
  • Arcane Lighthouse. This may actually be one of the best targets on here. Available at a dollar today but with dwindling supply. Much like Myriad Landscape experienced a big price correction a few months back, this is likely the next in line.
  • True Conviction. This was a card that saw strong growth in the year before a reprint, and it’s showing some rebound momentum after that reprint. Another dollar rare, another great medium-to-long-term hold.

Commander 2015

As the most recent Commander set, there are some good and bad things about this edition. One of the biggest pros is, of course, the price. With these so recently released and is even still available on shelves, the price on most of these cards is rock bottom.

The downside is that we don’t know which ones will do well over time. Sure, in many cases we can make accurate predictions, but it’s a lot harder for me to sit here and predict a card will rise than it is to study charts and let the data do the talking for me. Still, let’s see what we can find.

  • Command Beacon. As the most expensive card in the set and a hugely popular land, I imagine this will almost certainly see a reprint in 2016, and 2017 if not. At the current buy-in of $11, I’d rather just stay away from this.
  • Blade of Selves would fall into the same category, except it has a set-specific keyword. While they could put this into another product, it doesn’t seem easy for them to do so. I don’t necessarily want to buy these to hold, but if you need to pick one up for yourself you should probably do so.
  • Meren of Clan Nel Toth. I love this card, and have been on the lookout to pick one up for my Karador deck. At $9 and with another set-specific mechanic, I don’t see this falling either.
  • Coldsteel Heart. This was a $2.50 mana rock before the reprint, and is a random uncommon I see forgotten about these days. Great pickup at current prices.
  • Eldrazi Monument. Not only are our new Eldrazi overlords everywhere and this is on theme, but it was a $10 before the reprint. Cards like that are certain to start the climb back to those heights within a year, and $4 is the ground floor on these.
  • Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. The climb back up has already started on these, and there is no reason to think it will stop anytime soon. Don’t forget this was a $15 card before the reprint, and available today at $4 for a Mythic Angel with a huge effect on games. This is the stuff mtgfinance dreams are made of.
  • Lightning Greaves. It’s had a lot of printings, and for a long time those printings were $7-8. It’s been reprinted a lot so expectations can be tempered, but I’m mentioning this because it is at a floor.
  • Blatant Thievery. This one is a little more narrow but still incredibly powerful, so at $1.50 there’s a lot to like for a previously-$7 card.

 

There you go. That’s a lot of cards, but I warned you in advance it was going to be a deep dive. Truthfully, these Commander sets and other supplemental products have been great on the finance end, as they make cards that were moderately priced available cheaply for players, and “reset” the copies out there for people looking to hold onto theirs for the long haul.

Come back next week when I dive into the rest of the supplemental sets!

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter/Twitch/YouTube

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.

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You Sunk My Battleship

I talk a lot about rising tides lifting boats, but we cannot ignore what has just happened. Commander 2015 is out, and while the new cards’ prices are obviously in flux, starting at arbitrary preorder numbers guessed at by individuals and stores like Star City Games (and not always good guesses as the $1 they wanted for Blade of Selves can attest) and being buffeted by the waves of supply and demand until the stormy seas  calm down and the prices find their equilibrium, wherever that may be.

It doesn’t do us a ton of good right now to even talk about new singles, because the most efficient way to get the cards is still to crack precons, something I recommend. It’s roughly $120ish to get a full set of the 5 decks, which is basically a buy-four-get-one-free deal at MSRP, and it’s worth it for all of the deckbuilding stock, if that’s what you’re into.

Forget Deckbuilding, Where’s the Money?

If you aren’t into that and are more interested in investing, I’m going to advise we stay away from new cards for a while. The one real good buy-in opportunity for preorder cards was the $1 Blade, and when I saw on Saturday that was its  price, I wrote my weekly article a few days early. By the time it was published Tuesday, a day earlier than normal, the price had quintupled. I think that ship has sailed, but there is opportunity to buy cheaply if we know where to look.

Remember how I keep harping on Wurmcoil Engine? There’s a very good reason for that. We can learn quite a bit from Wurmcoil Engine about the future of singles prices, and the past Commander sets are going to be an excellent guide. Let’s spend some time looking at the prices of cards that are down, but not down for the count.

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Can you tell when Commander 2014 was announced? That’s when prices started to really tail off. What’s interesting about this graph isn’t just that it recovered, but you can actually see the exact day the sets were released. Can you guess where November 7 is? That’s right.

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So the set came out and the price immediately stopped falling. Dealers lost confidence entirely, taking their buylist price lower and lower, but the retail price of Wurmcoil stopped declining. Now, this is likely due to people not buying any copies of old Wurmcoil because they can get a new one for $30 along with the Dualcaster Mage that Wizards was so confident would be the new Snapcaster that they made a judge foil out of it and a ton of other great cards. The red deck was stacked, and while speculators were all-in on the white deck to get Containment Priest and throw the other 99 cards in the trash, the red one was mostly bought by players because Daretti is a cheater of a commander.

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But even though people stopped buying the old Wurmcoil as much because they could get the new one, look at the price of the new one. This graph starts on November 12, a few short days after the set hit. Despite supply hitting a new high, demand hit a new high as well and an MSRP of $30 for the entire deck wasn’t enough to keep Wurmcoil under $20.

There are other cards like this that saw a reprint and whose prices rebounded nicely. Looking at a few older examples can help us pick out some cards that are going to tick back up, albeit slower than Wurmcoil (which is a bit of an anomaly but which also demonstrates the power EDH has to influence prices).

A Lesson in Tools

A useful thing to know how to do on MTGPrice is to search for cards by set. At the top of the main, non-blog page, there are a few tabs, one of which is “Browse sets” which brings up a page where the sets are listed chronologically with the newest set on top. You can sort the cards in each set by price and see which cards are surprisingly expensive.

When Commander first debuted, Scavenging Ooze was the slam-dunk of the set, retailing for around $50. Currently, twenty cards in Commander are more expensive than the now-heavily reprinted Scavenging Ooze (and good for Wizards for reprinting it so it could be played in Modern), and only twelve of those cards were new in that set. Eight reprints surged or maintained while Ooze plummeted. Of those eight reprints, three of them surged or were propped up by Modern. That leaves five cards with enough EDH playability to have made them good investments. Was there any money to be made buying at the right time? What time was that?

MTG Price’s data on Commander sets starts in 2013, but we can still learn a bit about how time has a way of making initial investments look good a few years down the road.

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While Wizards hasn’t reprinted this card since, it has taken some of the pressure off with cards like Dictate of Erebos and Butcher of Malakir, a card the company will never stop printing every three months. Buying  even two years after the set was released, you would have made money on Grave Pact, turning a $5 initial buy-in into an opportunity to sell at retail for $15.  Grave Pact is never not going to be good in EDH, but I invested in Dictate of Erebos instead—and barring a reprint, I’m looking forward to that card hitting the $5 mark before I sell my hundreds of copies all purchased at bulk rare price.

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Some of this growth could be due to Modern, but this is a planeswalker and it’s hard to keep an original-five planeswalker down. Despite ten different versions of the guy floating around out there, all are worth roughly the same $8 right now.  I like almost any non-Tibalt planeswalker at around $4, and Daretti’s price is making me salivate.

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It’s hard to keep a good Wrath down, and this may be the best EDH Wrath ever with modes that you can play around or be entirely unaffected by. The price is flat now, but you could have turned $4 into $10 just by recognizing this card was perhaps the best white Wrath effect in EDH. Not bad.

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And these don’t even give the creature hexproof!

Commander 2013 has a few attractive targets, but even this far back, we haven’t quite seen how things are going to play out for a lot of them. Commander 2013 was bought to such an extent that there are only three cards that retail for over $5 in the whole set, new cards and reprints combined.

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It seems like they’re printing new chase utility lands rather than reprinting, so we may be safe from Homeward Path reprints for a while, giving the price a chance to grow a bit. It’s demonstrated the ability to hit $6 and I think it can again and more. The card is very good, and while Commander 2013 pushed out way more copies than the original Commander set, Homeward Path is in the Naya deck, easily the worst-selling of the five. If it doesn’t get reprinted, this is likely an $8 to $10 card in two years. However, I’m not buying in too heavily at $4.

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Utility uncommons can turn into powder if they get reprinted, but Deceiver Exarch surged due to a Modern-predicated buyout. You could have gotten these for practically nothing for a whole year and a half and ridden the wave. Are there any good Modern cards hiding in other Commander sets? Yep! And a recent printing in Commander 2015 is going to crush their prices, giving you a very good buy-in opportunity. We’ll be on the lookout for cards that have a place in EDH but are also Modern staples. I can think of one in particular.

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This card is going to shrug off a lot of reprints. Will this ever settle under $5? I don’t think so. EDH players rarely take decks apart, so every time they build a new deck with green in it, they’re going to want another copy of this. Modern players rediscover this card every once in a while and buy them by the playset. Commander 2015 just reprinted it and threatens to smash the price a bit, but if we ever see the days of $3 Eternal Witness again, it’s a snap buy. Can this card see $7 again? I am actually fairly confident that it can. The reprint risk is high, but I think how far you buy below $6 is all guaranteed profit when it pops back up to its previous high.

Not all cards can shrug off repeated reprints, however. Some are starting to show signs of fatigue.

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Back-to-back reprintings in Commander 2014 and Commander 2015 have probably cooked this goose completely. It doesn’t help that Solemn was in Built from Scratch, the same deck as Wurmcoil Engine, meaning the deck needed no help from a card like Sad Robot to bring up the value.

I expect the Ezuri deck, where it’s reprinted this time, to be a little different. With a lot of the value spread over $5 cards, it’s a totally different situation. That could be enough to prop the value up a bit, but I don’t see potential. I imagine Solemn will be in Commander 2016, as well. I don’t think they need to do these every year, but the cards that are only appropriate to be reprinted in one of the decks, or not at all, stand to gain a lot from people building new decks. Remember, Commander doesn’t need to grow that much as a format, it just needs to not shrink—because every new deck is a new excuse to build a bunch of decks.

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It’s clear this wasn’t price growth as much as price correction. The blue Commander 2014 precon was garbage: hot, greasy garbage. The white precon got Containment Priest and the blue one got Dulcet Sirens. The price fell way too far predicated on the reprinting being the pin in its price’s balloon that would keep it from surging out of control. Here’s the problem: it’s in a terrible deck and the card is just too good. Any card that is too good for the bad deck it’s in could see a price correction like this saw. Rift isn’t done going up, either, and should settle a little below its pre-drop price of $6 to $7. If you bought these at $1, you’re feeling good right now, especially since the RTR versions never dipped below $2. Next week, I’ll be trying to find cards analogous to this and a few others from this piece.

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Did anyone not see this coming? Yet how aggressively was anyone really buying at $2? And why not? This is a stupid elf that makes other stupid elves. It’s perhaps the best elf lord ever printed. Did we not expect it to double in a year’s time and climb higher if it’s not printed again? There are insanely popular tribes out there and their staples shrug off reprints because it’s s fun to have multiple elf decks. My Ezuri elf deck and my Nath elf deck aren’t going to have the same color sleeves so I can switch a bunch of cards between them. I’m going to buy another Imperious Perfect because I’m not a poor. Everyone else will, too, and the increased supply is going to create increased demand.

What happens isn’t always easy to predict, though.

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Sometimes the card doesn’t correct like you expect it to. There are a few things going on here, and the first is that it was reprinted in another deck so that’s going to curb its price growth potential quite a bit. The second hiccup is that the new “tuck” rule means this card isn’t quite the “suck it, nerd, your commander is gone forever” card that it used to be. But what people lamenting the fact that you can’t short a card are forgetting is that this is still practically the only way to remove a troublesome permanent in mono-red, and mono-red is really fun in EDH sometimes. I mean, it’s the worst color and it isn’t mitigated by other colors, but you can still do some fun and annoying stuff and if you want your commander to be Daretti or Godo or Kiki-Jiki or whomever, you’re going to have to have a way to remove permanents that isn’t Nevinyrral’s Disk. This is that. I expected this to go up already, so I’m a little puzzled. The Commander 2014 version is a whole dollar cheaper, probably because Wurmcoil is picking up so much slack that the rest of the cards in that deck are practically chaff, which is odd because almost every card in the red deck is better than almost every card in the blue one. Sometimes it’s not a meritocracy out there, folks.

What’s Happening Next Time?

I am looking forward to coming back hard next week and giving you my picks for cards that are soon to reverse the dip they took after their reprintings.  There is opportunity—just look at how much money you could have made buying Cyclonic Rift, Austere Command, Exarch, or a few dozen other real “growers.” Fortunately, the growers aren’t always show-ers, and if we can root them out, we could have as much as a year to get the copies we want before the prices start to soar.

Check in with me next week and we’ll take a look at some of my picks. As always, leave it in the comments and let’s make some money.

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Commander 2015 Decklists – What Does It All Mean?

The full decklists for Commander 2015 have been published, so the slow trickle of spoilers is over, and now we have the weekend to make moves. It’s a little late to do anything rash, but it doesn’t hurt to be forewarned going into the next few weeks. Let’s talk about what matters and what could happen.

First of all, here are the decks.

“Call the Spirits” AKA Daxos, the Returned

Relevant new cards – Daxos, the Returned ($3), Karlov of the Ghost Council ($3) , Grasp of Fate ($4), Righteous Confluence ($4)

Relevant reprints – Lightning Greaves ($7),  Karmic Justice ($7),  Phyrexian Arena ($10),  Black Market ($12)

Relevant exclusions – Grave Pact ($8), Dictate of Erebos ($2), Phyrexian Altar ($20)

If you were paying attention to my articles, you may or may not be impressed. You may be impressed that I identified Phyrexian Arena and Black Market as likely reprint targets, or you may be not impressed because I identified other cards that weren’t reprinted. Either way, it’s too late to sell off now, and  I have to imagine these cards, especially Black Market, can shake off the reprints.

Star City Games is only charging $6 for Black Market right now and that price is going to go down before it goes up. I’d watch what the price of Black Market does closely. Since a lot of the value of this deck is in reprints and not in new cards, I don’t see speculators targeting this product heavily, which means the price isn’t likely to plummet to much. Black Market was a card I identified as a potential corollary to Wurmcoil Engine, which rebounded nicely after the Commander 2014 reprinting.

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I think if we see Black Market dip below $5, especially the old border copies, you should trade aggressively for them. The card is insane in EDH and the reprint might help it in the long term because, like it or not, this may be the first time some players see this card and it may alert them to something they need in their deck and didn’t know was real. I’m stocking up around $5, because I want a lot of these for my decks and I was holding off, hoping for a reprint.  I see opportunity here.

Similarly, Star City Games only wants $4 for Karmic Justice right now and that number is also going to go down. While the supply is greatly increased, Karmic Justice’s price wasn’t entirely predicated on scarcity but rather mostly on playability, and more copies won’t entirely mitigate the price. I bet we see Karmic Justice rebound to a price nearly perfectly midway between its future $3 and its pre-reprint price of $7. There isn’t a ton to be made, here, but if you trade for these at $2 to $3 and buylist them for $3.50 in a year, I don’t think you’ll be that upset, especially if you trade away Standard cards that are going to lose their value. I love trading Standard cards away and picking up EDH cards, it’s like getting 100 percent of retail for your cards by shipping to a buylist in a little while.

“Seize Control” AKA Mizzix of the Izmagus

Relevant new cards – Mystic Confluence ($7)

Relevant reprints – Blatant Thievery ($4),

Relevant exclusions – An expensive card

I predicted a Legacy-playable card would be printed to make up a lot of the value of this deck and while they sort of tried with Mizzix’s Mastery, no one is confident that card will go anywhere.

Players seem to be bullish on Mystic Confluence, given that a lot of people consider Jace’s Ingenuity playable and this is that but better. The card simply isn’t good enough to maintain all of the value of the deck. This is going to keep prices mostly from collapsing, but Mystic Confluence might be prohibitively expensive because there isn’t much financial impetus to buy the deck. EDH players wanted something that interacted with artifacts and didn’t get it, and they’re similarly upset at all the $3 cards that are going to be $0.50 from now on.

I think there is opportunity, here. I think Aethersnatch will get a little cheaper before people realize how good it is, but I think it could go up from its current $3 fairly easily. It’s a better Desertion and Desertion flirted with $10 for a while before its second reprinting in Commander’s Arsenal. If Aethersnatch goes below $2.50, I’m going to target it in trades.

Mizzix’s Mastery is very cheap, also. If anyone tries to play this in some sort of Storm deck, it’s going to go way up from its current $2 and people will want them a playset at a time. Luckily for EDH players, no one is going to want Mystic Confluence for Legacy anytime soon, so EDH demand is going to dictate what prices in this deck do.

I wish they hadn’t jammed a Thought Vessel (thoughtlessly) in every deck, because not every deck needs it and a little scarcity could have helped the price do something. Reliquary effects are lazy from a design standpoint and make the game annoying, but no one wants to be the first guy to eschew them, so they’re here to stay.

“Plunder the Graves” AKA Meren of Clan Nel Toth

Relevant new cards – Wretched Confluence ($4), Meren of Clan Nel Toth ($4), Skullwinder ($2)

Relevant reprints – Eldrazi Monument ($10), Eternal Witness ($6), Mycoloth ($4), Lightning Greaves ($5), High Market ($4)

Relevant exclusions – Pernicious Deed ($3), Abrupt Decay ($15), Grave Pact ($8), Dictate of Erebos ($2), Asceticism ($10), Lord of Extinction ($13), Yavimaya Hollow ($10) (unreprintable)

First off, I want to say I bring up Yavimaya Hollow, because it is worth a second look given the new Simic and Golgari decks. It’s on the Reserved List, as I was reminded when I wrote my Golgari article because I never remember to check that. With the card getting more looks as more people build more decks and no more copies coming, that seems like a safe place to park a few Hamiltons.

Speaking of that Golgari article, I do think it’s funny that reading the comments I see Eddie Sárraga say, “Lotleth Troll and not Spiritmonger?” It’s not funny because I was right about both of those things, but because it was a guess, and when I read that comment, I remember thinking, “Crap, they could totally reprint Spiritmonger and then this guy will laugh at me,” which didn’t happen. Spiritmonger wouldn’t have been a terrible reprint, but didn’t really fit the theme of the deck. I picked Lotleth Troll based on it doing color-pie-appropriate stuff since I figured they would build the deck around a Golgari key strength. Spiritmonger is a good “standalone” card, but doesn’t place nice with graveyard shenanigans the way Lotleth Troll does. It wasn’t an actual total guess on my part and was heavily influenced by the logic that the article was predicated upon. Not a bad guess, Eddie, but no Spiritmonger this time.

This deck is heavily valued based on reprints. I don’t see any of the new cards going super nuts and becoming a ton of money, so the reprints are going to be the key draw for buying the decks and will accordingly have a tough time holding value.

We dodged a bullet as Butcher of Malakir got yet another reprinting instead of Grave Pact or Dictate of Erebos, two cards I expect to hold their value and increase dramatically in the case of Dictate. A reprint on Dictate before I can realize any profit from the heavily invested position I am in is a risk, and I took it gladly, but I would just as soon not have it happen. Reprint Butcher all you want. That card costs too much mana and is easier to kill than an enchantment. I mean, sometimes.

‘Wade into Battle” AKA Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas

Relevant new cards – Blade of Selves ($1), Anya, Merciless Angel ($4), Fiery Confluence ($4)

Relevant reprints –  Gisela, Blade of Goldnight ($4), Urza’s Incubator ($6), Lightning Greaves ($5), Taurean Mauler ($3), Sun Titan ($3)

Relevant exclusions – Aggravated Assault ($9), Scourge of the Throne ($9)

I did pretty well with my predictions on this one, nailing giant tribal enabler Urza’s Incubator while I urged people not to hold onto Gisela, Blade of Goldnight and to wait until the spoilers to buy in if they were inclined. I had a few people message me telling me they saved some money by waiting and avoided losing some by shipping these cards, so I feel pretty good. I expected way more spells in this deck. Only nine total cards that aren’t artifacts or creatures? That’s so few. Every deck I see built with this precon in mind is predicated on a Sunforger package, so maybe that’s where we should look for opportunities.

There just isn’t a lot of value in this deck. It could be the worst one, and I think people predicted that would happen when they saw Kalemne spoiled. Ironically, grousing and talking about how the Boros deck would be the worst was people being optimistic. That optimism paid off—Boros is bad. Oh well. The blue and black decks were both pretty bad last time, and they both have pretty staunch defenders.

Besides, if we don’t care, a bad deck could help us. Here’s why. People who like some of the cards or just don’t care about prices will buy the deck because they want to build Boros. If the deck is bad, the stores won’t mark it up above MSRP, making it attractive to buy for people. Then they will jam other good stuff in. More dragons, equipment, and auras to make it more profitable to attack with Kalmne. They may even build with Gisela as the Commander, and that will sell all kinds of singles.

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Foil Sunforger is returning to reality after Tiny Leaders proved that it wasn’t a real format played by anyone. I’m not going to waste my word count saying, “I told you so,” but you all know I absolutely did that. Sunforger on a Kalemne is pretty brutal, and having a Gisela out when you hit them with a Fiery Confluence could be fun. Tutoring for a 12-damage spell is very EDH. The reprinting in Modern Masters 2015 hurt the foil and non-foil prices of Sunforger, but I still think there is upside. The card is too good with Kalemne and the rest of the precon.

The only other opportunity I really see is that I think Blade of Selves is way, way too cheap. Then again, I’ve misjudged EDH equipment as a good buy at $1 before.

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I still don’t get why this hasn’t caught on.

Still, Blade of Selves is much, much better than Masterwork of Ingenuity and can make some ridiculous board states. I think $1 is a pretty low-risk buy-in point, and if Blade of Selves is still $1 next week, I might look into investing $50 or so.

I don’t see a ton of opportunity here. This deck mostly just smashed $10 cards into $5 cards and they will take a long time to recover from it and that’s too bad.

Look, we’ve come to the one I want to write about.

“Swell the Host” AKA Ezuri, Claw of Progress

Relevant new cards – Ezuri, Claw of Progress ($4),  Skullwinder ($2)

Relevant reprints – Eternal Witness ($6), Forgotten Ancient ($4), Solemn Simulacrum ($4), Bane of Progress ($2), High Market ($4)

Relevant exclusions – Voidslime ($7), Doubling Season ($25)

This deck won’t have a ton of value after the reprints tank, and the new cards seem to be underrated price-wise. I think this deck is going to be purchased for utility and that could create some scarcity and give Ezuri a little upside. I don’t know if anyone wants to build snake tribal, but building around Ezuri seems nutty. The problem is that most of the cards that work in the deck are cheap already. Hydras could see the biggest boost, and I am all-in on cards that double counters.

Contagion Engine survived a reprinting and now that everyone is no longer holding their breath, we’ll either see the non-foil go up or the foil come down or both. Contagion Engine is a card I identified as being great with Simic a long time ago, and it’s still true.

This deck is the best to build around and with a new, mono-green Master Biomancer called Bloodspore Thrinax printed in the Golgari deck, we could see people play with both of those cards. After you get some experience counters on Ezuri, you can dump counters on Biomancer and Thrinax, and all of a sudden your Coiling Oracles and Mystic Snakes come into play as 12/12 creatures. So what if you can’t get more experience counters? Why not proliferate, plebe? Do I have to tell you how to do everything?

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This could easily hit $5 as a result of this new deck if it’s as popular as Twitter seems to think it will be.

I called Orochi Hatchery as my Brainstorm Brewery pick of the week if memory serves. I got blown out by the reprint. I sure hope I said “foil,” but I have a feeling I didn’t. Still, the card will get upside, especially the foil, as the reprint introduces new people to the card and gives them a snake tribal commander that isn’t mono-green for once. I feel like this deck will have the biggest effect on the prices of cards that aren’t in the deck, and I made suggestions about that here in this article and also in this older piece, so check those out for targets.

That’s all I have for you this week. Next week I will brew a bit with the actual cards we got and talk about cards likely to be directly affected rather than speculating on what will be in the decks. This should be fun. We’ll be looking at a ton of decklists, so get ready for that. It will be fun, I promise. Would I lie to you?

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Commander 2015 – Legacy Initial Thoughts

Now that all the Commander 2015 spoilers have been revealed, I can’t help but notice that this year’s set is feeling pretty underwhelming to me. In fact, all things considered I can’t think of a previous Commander product that had less desirables from a Constructed standpoint. The Confluences are the closest thing to Legacy playable – if they weren’t all four mana or greater in casting cost.

I mean, think about it – even the red Confluence (Fiery Confluence) would be INCREDIBLE in Legacy if it cost just one mana less at three mana, even if that cost were 1RR. For its effect and limited amount of formats it sees play in I don’t think it would have been much to ask. However at four mana it might not be able to get there. Out of all the Confluences, I think it has the highest chance of seeing Legacy play but the jury is still out on the Confluences until results roll in.

Other than the Confluences, I’m not seeing anything pop out to me immediately as Legacy format staples like we have in the past releases (Containment Priest, True-Name Nemesis, Flusterstorm). These cards were all built with Legacy in mind, and everyone knew it even as the cards were being spoiled. I’m sure something from this set will make its way into Legacy or Vintage, so let’s take a look and see if we can make the case for any other cards in the set. First though, I want to finish my thoughts on Fiery Confluence.

Fiery Confluence

If any card makes the cut in Legacy, I think it is going to be this one since it is the cheapest. It is extremely versatile in the format and will shine best in Burn decks alongside of Eidolon of the Great Revel, though maybe out the sideboard more than the main deck since this card has more options for handling a wider range of decks. I’ve briefly mentioned some of my other thoughts on this card (and all the Confluences in general) above so let’s move along to my next pick on power level in Constructed from this set.

Karlov of the Ghost Council

This card feels like it is going to get out of hand very fast in the right deck. Unfortunately, Legacy ‘life gain’ isn’t really thing – yet. I wonder if it might slot into something like Deadguy Ale and totally transform the deck around the incredible ability.

Not only does the card get bigger, but you can eventually use those +1/+1 counters later in the game to get rid of any creature on the battlefield! All for two mana. Definitely feels like Legacy to me.

The downside to Karlov is his Legendary status, so that limits the amount of copies you could see in a deck. Still though, Karlov interacts with cards that randomly gain you life like Umezawa’s Jitte and might slot into Death and Taxes in the right metagame. I really think you need a deck built around him to make full use of his ability. Only the future will tell!

Scourge of Nel Toth

This card seems like it takes too much work to get online, but you never know. Dredge might be able to take advantage of a card like this in the right situation.  It reminds me of a cross between Tombstalker and Delraich, though better in both cases. Not only is this card a 6/6 flyer, but you only need to sacrifice two creatures rather than three black creatures.

It does take some work to get online, so Legacy might not appreciate this card immediately. We may not see it in the format, but if more support in the future is printed we could very well see this in a deck at some point.

Centaur Vincrasher

Yes, I realize that this card isn’t Dark Depths however I still feel like it could fit into Life from the Loam strategies quite well in Legacy. Lands might even be able to make use of this card, maybe out of the sideboard if the opponent still expects the Dark Depths strategy to take over the game.

Actually, now that I think about it this card could also probably fit into other green Legacy decks as well – the centaur’s recursion triggers when any land is put into any graveyard, and fetchlands are so rampant in Legacy that it might be worth it for slower green decks to play. This guy quickly becomes huge while also having built-in recursion, which isn’t something we see very often.

I’m sure people will experiment with this card, and I really hope this breaks into Legacy because Loam decks should be able to capitalize on the card’s great recursion, along with other decks that seek to create grindy matchups where there is a ton of removal.

Mizzix’s Mastery

This card blows Past in Flames out of the water! Being able to straight-up cast all the instants and sorceries in your graveyard rather than give them flashback is so, so much more powerful. The best part is that you can also cast it for the regular cost if you need to recast an instant/sorcery in a pinch.

I definitely think that Storm now has a new tool to play around with, and I believe it will replace the single Past in Flames copy in the deck since it is so much easier to re-cast your whole graveyard once you overload this pseudo-Yawgmoth’s Will.

An Aside – Legacy’s Future

With SCG restructuring their tournament series, in both rebranding the series and cutting back on Legacy events, it is starting to feel like more and more like Legacy is slowly going away.

Not only are the events being cut back, but we also constantly have to worry about counterfeits entering the community. I feel like we’re going to see more announcements like the one that happened this weekend at GP: Seattle as the counterfeits continue to enter the market and community at large. How many people do you think were playing with counterfeits and didn’t get caught? How many people do you think weren’t even intentionally playing with counterfeits and went unnoticed, and are even unaware of it themselves until someone with a discerning eye gives them the unfortunate news? It’s definitely a wake-up that yes, your older, reserved list cards are being created as knock-offs for fractions of the price. With such easy access to these proxies and the improvement of the creation process, I feel like more and more players are going to start to become attracted to playing with proxies as the price of the reserved list staples increases.

I think this is why Star City Games is cutting back on Legacy, as players will have less incentive to purchase these proxies if they don’t need them for a tournament setting. It sucks to think about but I think it makes the most sense. Even if it decreases the market prices of cards like dual lands, the rise of Modern as the eternal format of choice (which guarantees reprints) and the continuation and improvement of Chinese (and other) proxies means that less Legacy support makes sense in order to prevent the mass purchases of these cards for tournament play.

It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out in the future, but problems always have creative solutions. I’m sure if Legacy is demanded by enough players then exceptions will be made, one way or another, to keep the format alive. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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