Tag Archives: Finding Value

Uncommonly Valuable

When you’re sitting there, sifting through those bulk collections that I know (almost) all of you are buying throughout the year, one of the key types of cards that you should be looking for are uncommons. Yes, commons are important too in these bulk searches for treasure, however the uncommons are going to be what surprises you most in terms of value when you go to cash out your findings to the highest paying buylist.

My goal today is twofold. First, I’m going to quickly review what the most valuable uncommons are that you should be looking for when sifting through the bulk of bought collections. Most of these cards will be obvious, but I’m betting that some of them might be a surprise.

Then, I’m going to take this a step further and point out which foils you should also be looking for. Foils, as you’ll find, are quite an interesting market, and the amount of a play a foil receives in Modern, Commander, Legacy, or even Vintage could drastically alter the price. Many of the uncommon foils that I’ve found are actually are individual buylist line items despite their rare use, and you want to make sure that they aren’t being accidentally thrown in with the rest of bulk foils. Albeit, not that many collections will have a large amount of foils, especially foils that are from older sets, however foil picking shouldn’t be discounted either. Now is as good a time as ever for checking to see which uncommon foils are demanding the highest buylist and eBay prices in the market.

With that out of the way, let’s review the nonfoil uncommons that are valuable to see if there might be any surprises in there.

Figure 1 – Most Valuable Recent Set Nonfoil Uncommons $2 or More eBay Sorted By Highest Buylist


No suprise that Aether Vial, Top, and Duel Deck Demonic Tutor are at the top of the list. Essential staples in their respective formats, they carry the highest eBay price and buylist prices. Arbitrage is particularly close on Aether Vial – I could see this one jumping in price in the near future, especially with the next wave of Modern tournaments coming up early next year.

Shardless Agent, Enlightened Tutor, and Cabal Coffers are all great uncommons with a ton of casual appeal. Shardless Sultai seems to come in and out of favor in Legacy, so there is demand there for the Agent but I think that is mainly coming from casual players. Enlightened Tutor and Cabal Coffers are still $10 even with reprints, which bodes well for their futures. I expect we’ll see reprints of these cards soon enough, but even with a reprint I could see them do a Ghostly Prison and still stubbornly maintain a price above $5 due to the “discovery” effect where newer players who just started playing the game see their power and move to pick them up for Commander.

Mishra’s Bauble still surprises me – where is this played again? If anyone picks up a collection with Coldsnap, look for these guys among the bulk. Sterling Grove is another uncommon that is valuable to vendors especially since the Daxos deck, though lacking green, could sway players to start creating enchantment based decks with green in them since Magic’s history is full of great green cards that support enchantments.

Mother of Runes has a high eBay but low buylist price, which indicates to me that the eBay price is going to start going down. Mom’s should be traded to players looking for them, as buylist is fine for this uncommon but you will get more bang for you buck if you move them over a medium like Pucatrade.

Ancient Ziggurat, Footsteps of the Goryo, and Guttural Response are the final uncommons I would like to mention. These uncommons are surprisingly valuable due casual and Modern appeal. Footseps and Response have their niche in Modern, while Ancient Ziggurat has a huge casual appeal and is an uncommon with only one nonfoil printing.

All in all, I don’t think you guys will find this uncommon list that surprising. Let’s move on to the foils, which are certainly more interesting.

Figure 2 – Most Valuable Recent Set Foil Uncommons $4 or More eBay Sorted by Highest Buylist


Right away, I’m sure you noticed that this list is waaaay longer than the previous list. Suffice to say, there are plenty of foil uncommons that have gained value over the years. We see that Goblin Matron is currently commanding the highest buylist price – even with Top being sold at $110 eBay, Matron still eeks it out by a margin of $6. Bare in mind, this is one vendor who is offering the noted buylist price, so for other vendors the buy on Matron could very well be lower. Still though, it shows that the demand for foils is a totally different market than nonfoils since Matron didn’t even show up on the nonfoil list!

So, apparently foil Choke is being sold at $80 on eBay! This is crazy to me, as it is a purely sideboard card that will almost certainly be reprinted at a future date. This indicates to me that unless you’re playing a totally Russian foiled Merfolk, maybe you should consider moving this foil…

Foil prices drastically reduce from there, where most are $30 each or lower on eBay. The obvious outliter here is 9th Ed. Urza’s Mine, but the eBay data is skewed since the buylist is only $25.

Aven Mindcensor is still a sought-after foil, being present in both Legacy and Modern in D&T and Hatebears builds. With only one printing in Future Sight, I don’t see this foil dropping until a reprint in a Modern Masters type set.


As we move down the list, we start seeing strange foils such as Boil, Crypt Rats, Serra Advocate, Reprisal, Mistveil Plains, and Breath of Life pop up. Did you guys even know these cards existed? Well, if you have foil copies then someone out there is looking for them, and finding stuff like this in collections is always a treat.

Some interesting eBay foil prices include Izzet Staticaster, Sustainer of the Realm, Blood Artist, and Victimize. All of these on eBay are being sold at a fairly high price for a foil uncommon yet buylists are quite low compared to eBay prices. This tells me that players are seeking them, but stores aren’t – probably because they are very hard to move. Cards like these should probably be sold at eBay or TCG since even after fees you are going to get more for them than you would just outing to a buylist. Something to keep in mind in case you come across a few of these types of uncommon foils.

Final Thoughts

I’ll be using these lists in the future when looking through collections, to try and maximize the amount I can get out of them. I hope you guys find the lists useful as well, since there are plenty of eye popping numbers in the data especially concerning uncommon foils.

Let me know if I missed any uncommons from recent sets, nonfoil or foil, that you have your eyes on for value moving forward. I used the MTGPrice ProTrader data collection methods to aggregate this data, so if you become a ProTrader you too can get easy, current access to this data at your fingertips.

Snapcaster RPTQ Promo: A Win for All

By: Guo Heng

If you haven’t heard of it, the inimitable cross-format all-star blue two-drop, Snapcaster Mage, was unveiled as next year’s RPTQ promo in an announcement during the Pro Tour last Sunday. You can read about the details here.


Snapcaster Mage was the biggest winner during this year’s Modern season over the summer. Despite being the third most-played card in Modern and the most-popular creature in the format, Tiago Chan’s invitational card languished at $25 to $35 for the majority of its existence. Spring this year finally saw Snapcaster move up to $60, and July, at the height of the Modern fever, Snapcaster breached $100.

Snapcaster Full Price History

$100 is an extraordinary price tag for a rare from the modern-era print run, but considering Snapcaster’s ubiquity in the format, it is not preposterous.

Snapcaster third most-played
Most-played cards in Modern in 2015, from mtgtop8.com.

According to statistics from mtgtop8.com Snapcaster Mage was found in nearly one-third of all Modern decks, and decks that run Snapcaster ran three to four copies of it. Nearly all tier one decks running blue require Snapcasters, in similar veins to green-based decks requiring Tarmogoyfs. The goyf may reign supreme as the most expensive card in the format, but lacking a playset of Snapcaster would cut you off from a larger number of tier one Modern decks compared with not owning Tarmogoyfs.

Snapcaster Mage is the definitive creature of the Modern format, and one of the biggest mtgfinance long-term holds over the past few years (give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve bought Snaps at $25- $35). While players rejoice at reprints, financiers holding copies of the affected card rue the same event for the fact that reprints quite often spell a death knell for the price of affected long-term holds.

Even though I have a tiny number of long-hold Snapcasters, I am actually happy with the announcement as I shall elaborate in this article.

The Next Most Likely Mass Reprint of Snapcaster Mage

Before I go on to discuss the reasons Snapcaster being next year’s RPTQ promo is good for long-term holders of the card and players alike, I would like to explain an assumption which I think most of us could agree on:

  1. Assuming that the next Modern Masters is coming out in 2017 based on the two-year cycle between the past two Modern Masters,
  2. Assuming that the next Modern Masters will include Innistrad, seeing that the recent Modern Masters 2015 went all the way to New Phyrexia, 

The next most likely mass reprint event for Snapcaster Mage would be in the summer of 2017, in Modern Masters 2017. 

RPTQ Promo Reprint Means No Grand Prix Promo Reprint

After Innistrad dodged reprint in Modern Masters 2015, the biggest medium-term risk to the price of Snapcaster Mage is being selected as next year’s Grand Prix promo. Even though Grand Prix promos are foil versions featuring a new art, the sheer number of Grand Prix promos given out asserts a depressing impact on the long-term price of a card. The Grand Prix promo reprint of Modern-and-Legacy mainstay Griselbrand pretty much smashed his price to smithereensBatterskull remained high for a few months in 2014, when it was the Grand Prix promo for the year,  but it eventually dropped and is now having a hard time growing despite being a mainboard card in Legacy Stoneblade and Death and Taxes and a spattering of Modern play, mainly in the sideboard.

Let’s do a little back of the napkin calculation. There are 54 Grand Prix in 2015. Assuming an average attendance of 1,000 players per Grand Prix (most North American and European Grand Prix tend to attract a much larger crowd), by the end of 2015 there would at least 54, 000 copies of a card being introduced into the market and that is a very conservative number as it does not take into account outliers like the Modern Masters 2015 weekend which saw nearly 10,000 players receive the Griselbrand promo.

Comparatively, there are only four RPTQs per year. The sole RPTQ attendance figures released by Wizards so far revealed an attendance of 1,923 for the Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar RPTQs (the article cites ‘around 1,800’, but tallying up the figures from the table in the article gives 1,923). Rounding the figure up to 2,000, we can assume that the number of promo Snapcaster Mage that would be handed out next year to be around 8,000 at most, and that is a mere 1/7 of the conservative estimate of Grand Prix promos given out.

The main takeaway is that Snapcaster dodged the most damaging event to his price in the short-term when he dodged the Grand Prix promo bullet. We could be very certain about that once we know that he is next year’s RPTQ promo.

Predicted Impact of the RPTQ Promo on Snapcaster’s Price

Data on the the impact of an RPTQ promo reprint on the price of an eternal staple is scarce as the program has been going on for less than a year but we can glean a bit of information from the impact of being this year’s RPTQ promo on the price of Liliana of the Veil:

Liliana Price

The announcement that Liliana will be the promo card for this year’s RPTQs came on October 11 last year, during Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir coverage. Lilliana’s price tanked by about 25% from $80 to $60 at the beginning of November, presumably in anticipation of the upcoming influx in supply. However, at mid-February this year, Liliana experienced a spike which saw her price shoot up to a record high of $90, and a year after the announcement of the Liliana RPTQ promo, Liliana is perched at $110, the highest she has ever been since her release in 2011.

Lilliana’s price trend was not surprising given that Liliana is a three-to-four-of staple in two popular Modern archetypes, Jund and Junk. Plus, every Modern PPTQ season sees our favorite necromancer growing one year older. Unless Jund and Junk were to fall out of favor (unlikely, given their track record of being a safe choice in whatever environment of the Modern metagame), Liliana’s price is not to go down until a mass reprint, which is also most likely in the next instalment of Modern Masters. 

While Liliana of the Veil is one  rarity tier higher than Snapcaster Mage, the amount of play Snapcaster sees in Modern is double than that of Liliana.

Liliana play
Most-played cards in Modern in 2015, from mtgtop8.com.

For comparison, while both Liliana and Snapcaster were present in an average of 3.3 copies in decks that run them, Liliana was only found in 12.7% of deck but Snapcaster was in a 27.7%. For every deck that ran Liliana of the Veil, there were slightly more than two decks running Snapcaster Mage.  The same applies for Legacy, where Snapcaster Mage is found in slightly twice the number of decks compared with Liliana.

Snapcaster Mage Legacy

Liliana Legacy
Most-played cards in Legacy in 2015, from mtgtop8.com.

On the other hand, being a mythic rare theoretically renders Liliana eight times rarer than Snapcaster in terms of supply. I am not sure how much does that offset against Snapcaster seeing twice the amount of play in both Modern and Legacy. Correction: Eric Duerr on Twitter shared a photograph of an uncut foil Innistrad sheet showing that the ratio of Snapcaster:Liliana is actually 2:1. Thanks Eric! 

It is hard to quantify demand by archetypes in the each format. For all we know, Snapcaster decks could be more popular than Liliana decks in either format or vice versa. There are also a portion of eternal format players who seek to buy into the format rather than single decks.

I would argue that the demand-to-supply ratio of Snapcaster Mage is similar to that of Liliana. Which means the impact of the RPTQ reprint on Snapcaster’s price is going to be trifle and temporary, as with Liliana’s RPTQ reprint. Adding around 8,000 copies of the most ubiquitous creature in Modern is scarcely going to have a deep impact on the medium-term price of the card.

An RPTQ promo reprint is probably one of the reprint events that injects the lowest amount of supply into the market. I don’t have the figures for judge foil reprints, but I would rank judge foil reprints and RPTQ promo reprints to be of the same rarity in terms of new copies introduced into the market.

Snapcaster 22 Weeks

Snapcaster Mage’s price has been on a slow decline since peaking at $100 this summer and his buylist price has been on a steady slope downwards. Snapcaster lost $5 since the announcement, dropping from $69 to $64 but we have yet to see any dip in his buylist price. It’s interesting to note that Snapcaster’s buylist price dropped $10 within the first week of October. Were sellers anticipating a Snapcaster RPTQ promo announcement during the Pro Tour?

Unless the market reacts cautiously this time around, Snapcaster’s price is likely going to remain on a downtrend for the next few months mimicking Liliana’s trend after the announcement of her RPTQ promo. Regardless of the actual supply introduced by the reprint,  there is a stigma attached to reprint victims.  Either by early next year, spurred by a brief increase in Modern interest triggered by the Modern Pro Tour in February, or when the Modern PPTQ season swings around the corner come summer, Snapcaster’s price is going to trend up again.

Snap the Moment

Opportunities are abound for all parties when a quintessential Modern staple like Snapcaster Mage dips in price.

For the player:

If you are planning to compete in next year’s Modern PPTQ season, or if you are looking to complete your playset of Snapcaster, go get Snapcaster in a few weeks’ time. $64 is already a good price for Snapcaster, but it couldn’t hurt to wait and see if his price tanks any further.  The next few weeks, or month or two, are likely to be the last Snapcaster price bottom until the summer of 2017, the most probable release period for the next instalment of Modern Masters. If you do not mind not having access to Snapcaster decks for the next year-and-a-half, you could always wait for Modern Masters 2017, but I am not sure that wait would be worth it. The first reprinting of previous Modern chase cards like Vendilion Clique and Cryptic Command in the summer of 2013 only depressed their price by $10 to $15 and by early 2014 their price hit a new high, regardless of the rarity in which they were reprinted in.

Vendilion Clique

Cryptic Command

For the Financier:

First off, there’s the relief of knowing with a high degree of certainty that Snapcaster Mage is a safe hold until the next Modern season in summer 2016. We would likely see Snapcaster Mage hit extraordinary price again during that time. I don’t think it is far-fetched to expect Snapcaster to hit $100 one more time, especially during this weekend in May 2016:

Modern GP May

With two of the largest retailers and tournament organisers running concurrent Modern Grand Prix in a single weekend, can you imagine the price of a Snapcaster Mage during that week? Mid-May 2016 would be the best time to reap the return on your Snapcaster Mage investment.

Another reason why I like the Snapcaster reprinted as an RPTQ promo is the fact that it further depresses the price of Snapcaster from the $69 he was at before, making Snapcaster an even more lucrative mid-term spec target. We can be certain that Snapcaster’s current price is lower than it should be, as with the majority of Modern staples in the fall when the limelight is shining on cards from the new block and the post-rotation Standard metagame.

If you have the funds, going in on Snapcaster at his current price of $64 is not too shabby, but I would definitely recommend waiting for a few weeks to see if his price tanks any further. But don’t wait for too long, the window might close soon if the market catches on the trend with Liliana’s price after her RPTQ promo reprint.

Besides the relative security of not seeing a short-term reprint, one of the appeal of this spec is the presence of a set date where you could liquidate your spec and reap your profit, an aspect most mid-term specs lack. I wouldn’t go in too deep though. While Snapcaster hit $100 briefly, the highest his buylist price went to was $60.

Snapcaster Buylist

His brief stint at the triple-digit club was spurred by the one-month period this summer where there were three consecutive Modern Grand Prix, and the retailers knew that Snapcaster would unlikely sustain his price tag.

If you are buying into Snapcaster within this month or two to sell next May, your best bet on reaping optimal profit is liquidating your spec to players rather than buylisting them, which is why I wouldn’t recommend going in too deep.


Contrary to the usual impression of reprint events, the Snapcaster RPTQ promo reprint is likely to be a net positive for both players (duh) and financiers as it creates an opportunity for players and financiers to pick up Snapcasters at what is probably his final price bottom in the next year-and-a-half. Players lacking Snapcasters could assemble their playset in time for the next Modern season or next year’s Modern Grand Prix at a slightly cheaper price than without a RPTQ promo reprint. Financiers could rest well knowing that we are highly unlikely to see a mass Snapcaster Mage reprint until the next Modern Masters, which is likely to be in 2017, making it a safe bet to wait for the Modern PPTQ season next year to liquidate Snapcasters. Financiers interested in getting in on Snapcaster or bolstering their Snapcaster holdings for next summer could do so without the fear of being blinded sided by a surprise mass reprint.

This article turned out to be longer than expected, so thank you for sticking through to the end. Do share your thoughts in the comments section below, or catch me on Twitter at @theguoheng.


From the Void I Come

By: Guo Heng 

It’s not everyday that you find a Hearthstone quote fit for a Magic article title. For Dragons of Tarkir I did an mtgfinance review of the ‘anchor’ cards of the set, the Dragonlords, who were right down my alley as Spike and Vorthos manifested in cardboard form. When it comes to Battle for Zendikar, the marquee cards of the set, the Eldrazi, are the intersection of competitive play and flavor and I am quite excited to be able to put them under an mtgfinance lens.

I started Magic during Urza’s block, where the major antagonist in the Magic storyline was the original Phyrexians, a race of macabre machine-and-flesh organisms hellbent on destroying Dominaria, the backdrop for all the story in Magic back in those days. The Eldrazi bear striking comparison to the original Phyrexians – inexplicable creatures from beyond the plane threatening the very existence of Zendikar. The Eldrazi even use a horde of minion processors and drones to fuel their invasion, and they view creatures as expendable sacrificial fodder for utility.

Enough Vorthos talk, let’s get to the financial side of the Eldrazis. The Battle for Zendikar has been raging for two weeks, but we have yet to see the Eldrazi making an assault on the Standard metagame. There were not a single Eldrazi deck in the top 8 of both StarCityGames Open in Atlanta last weekend and Indianapolis the weekend before. The first Eldrazi presence was detected in Ali Aintdazi’s funky five-color control (not to be confused with Five-Color Bring to Light a.k.a. Eight Rhinos), which finished ninth last weekend) and that wasn’t of much financial relevance as it’s the humble uncommon Catacomb Sifter.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. Two weeks is scarcely enough to solve the metagame, let alone identify the interactions that would go on to define the meta for the next few months. Financially, it translates into hopefully, opportunity. Let’s take a look at the financial potential of the mythic Eldrazis in descending price order according to MTGPrice’s spoiler list, as the Eldrazi descent upon the Standard metagame.

Ulamog 2.0


The sole Eldrazi Titan this time around, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger will undoubtedly be the endgame of any ramp strategy in the current metagame. Even if a tier one ramp deck emerges at the Pro Tour this weekend, I am not optimistic about Ulamog’s ceiling as he is pretty much restricted to ramp decks, unlike multi-archetype stars like Dragonlord Ojutai and Deathmist Raptor. Expect Ulamog to hit $25 briefly (maybe $30 but that’s being very optimistic) if he makes his presence felt at the Pro Tour before crashing down in a few weeks’ time as redemption hits.

Sowing the Seeds of Oblivion

Oblivion Sower

This is a sexy one. I admit, I wasn’t too excited when I first saw Oblivion Sower spoiled for the Duel Deck. Then I played against it last Friday in a Bant ramp brew and I was quite impressed. A decent sized body (blocks Rhino and Tasigur) at six mana that comes attached with an uncounterable ramp spell is a force to be reckoned with in a ramp deck. Unfortunately, being in the Duel Deck significantly limited Sower’s ceiling. Having said that, Polukranos, World Eater spiked briefly after Makahito Mihara made top 8 of Pro Tour Theros with Green Devotion.


Betting on Oblivion Sower at $6 seems like a risky bet. Polukranos fitted in multiple strategies (Devotion and Red-Green Aggro) but Oblivion Sower seems optimal only in ramp strategies as the extra lands Sower nets you is not too useful if you don’t have a large endgame to resolve.

On the other hand, Jeremy (@LengthyXemit) mentioned that Japanese pro player and owner of Hareruya, Tomoharu Saito bought out Oblivion Sower at last weekend’s Grand Prix Madison. For the uninitiated, barring his competitive misdemeanours, Tomoharu Saito is one of the foremost brewers in contemporary Magic and his decks are held in high regards by casuals and pros. Heck, he even has a hashtag for his brews, #SaitoWayFinder. Saito buying out a card is a huge signal for the potential of that card.

Personally, I’m going to take the middle path and aim to complete my own playset of Oblivion Sower before this weekend. Feel free to spec on Oblivion Sower if you have the guts and the resources to spare. Just remember to liquidate your copies quick if Sower becomes a hit at the Pro Tour this weekend.

Consecrated Sphinx 2.0

Sire of Stagnation

Sire of Stagnation‘s price is not just stagnant, it is dropping. Starting out at a lofty $12, the Eldrazi Sire could be obtained for just $4 today. Version 2.0 does not necessarily indicates improvement, and Sire of Stagnation is a worse Consecrated Sphinx. Nevertheless, Consecrated Sphinx is from an era bygone, I think Sire may be better than it seems, despite the qualms about the fact that its trigger is under your opponent’s control, mainly because if they don’t have a removal (and burn is pretty bad against Sire with its seven toughness), they are trapped in between a rock and a hard place. Then again, most decks in Standard could function optimally at six mana, so they could easily just sandbag their lands until they draw into a removal.

The only place I can imagine Sire seeing play is in the sideboard of control decks. Sire is not to shabby in the control mirror as your opponent would often want to have much more than just six lands. They’d be forced to waste a removal spell on it. Then again, tapping six mana to cast a durdly creature is not what you want to do in a control mirror.

However tempting a $4 potentially playable mythic looks, I am not optimistic about Sire of Stagnations’s price.

Your Opponent Can’t Even

Void Winnower

Siege Rhino, Hangarback Walker, Den Protector, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Hidden Dragonslayer, Dromoka’s Command, Valorous Stance, Dig Through Time, Ojutai’s Command, Utter End.

What do the cards above have in common? They are popular cards from the top 8 decks of the previous two weekend’s StarCityGames Open that are hosed by Void Winnower.

I am quite surprised that Void Winnower is languishing at $4. Granted, we have yet to see Void Winnower in a deck with a decent finish. I do think that Void Winnower have the potential to be a player in the current Standard metagame.

The pros of Void Winnower:

  • Void Winnower requires very specific answers.
  • Unlike Oblivion Sower and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, you can reap Void Winnower’s full value from a See the Unwritten.
  • The Brainstorm Brewery episode from the previous week, which had Craig Wescoe on as guest, saw the crew discuss Void Winnower’s potential as a reanimation target in eternal formats.

The cons of Void Winnower:

  • Void may be overshadowed by Ulamog in Standard as Ulamog only costs one more mana. Then again Ulamog is easier to answer (though it does set your opponent back in board position) and Winnower may just be ran alongside Ulamog.

Void Winnower is one-of-a-kind, and cards like these tend to either be really cheap as it sees no play, or be quite expensive when its true potential is discovered during testing. I am on the side that Void Winnower is undervalued at $4. In Standard, Void Winnower is a hard to answer threat that turns the tides upon resolution and is the only Eldrazi that synergises with See the Unwritten. More importantly, a mythic rare at $4 requires just a little push for it to spike. I wouldn’t buy a horde of Void Winnowers. I am aiming to pick up a few more copies this week in trade and cash.

Thank you once again for reading. Share your thoughts in the comments segment below, or catch me on Twitter at @theguoheng.

Battling for Zendikar with the Dragonlords

By: Guo Heng

The first major event in the swanky new Battle for Zendikar Standard concluded last weekend and, oh boy, the results look juicy. No, I am not going to discuss the results in depth, as my fellow writers, Sigmund Ausfresser (@sigfig8) and Travis Allen (@wizardbumpin) dissected the MTG finance impact of the event extensively in their articles this week, which you can read here and here.

What caught my attention was the following excerpt from Sigmund’s piece on Monday:

“If I had to place bets, I would consider Dragonlords as prime targets. They are mythic rares from a less opened set with real potential in a slower format.”

-Sigmund Ausfresser, ProTrader: A Cautious Reaction to SCG Indy, 5 October 2015.

When I wrote about the dragonlords prior to the release of Dragons of Tarkir, I was excited about them, not just because they are freaking modern-day dragonlords and I would get to jam dragonlords in my Standard decks, but also because a few of them looked primed to be competitive-playable dragons—and to me, a perfect union of Spike and Vorthos is one of the best things about Magic.

Four of the dragonlords proved themselves in various formats in the months after Dragons of Tarkir‘s release (as expected, Dragonlord Kolaghan languished). Their prices have since mellowed as the supply of Dragons peaked and newer sets have stolen the limelight. Today, I’m excited about the dragonlords once again, as the seismic shift in the Standard metagame that came with the October rotation means the dragonlords have another shot at sitting on the Iron Throne of Standard.

Most of the dragonlords are available at close to their preorder prices right now as the dust from the October rotation is settling and the apex predators of the new Standard have yet to emerge. Their low prices, combined with the fact that they are mythics from a set that was not opened much, as Sigmund mentioned above, makes some of them particularly juicy short-term targets before the dust settles.

Dragonlord Atarka

Her position as the biggest creature in the block is challenged.
Her position as the biggest creature in the block is challenged.

I guess it is fitting to say that my prediction for Dragonlord Atarka went Horribly Awry. Let’s see if I can redeem myself the second time around. Dragonlord Atarka has proven herself to be a very playable card. While she was predominantly found in Green-Red Devotion lists, she also served as the curve-topper in non-ramp decks, because there’s nothing like decimating your opponent’s board while you summon an 8/8 trampling flyer.

Her ability to grace  non-ramp decks widens the array of potential decks she could fit into. Ramp would still be Dragonlord Atarka’s primary home, and we still have access to a plethora of powerful ramping tools, including the Eldrazi processors. Her powerful enter-the-battlefield ability would likely lead her to be included in See the Unwritten decks, a la Ondrej Strasky’s Green-Red Devotion which finished in the top four at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir.

Ultimately, Dragonlord Atarka is a playable mythic rare from a set that was not opened much. After all, Dragons of Tarkir was a set with multiple $10-and-more rares, including $11 Den Protector, $15 Atarka’s Command, and $11 Kolaghan’s Command (I may be cheating with the last one as Kolaghan’s Command is a Modern staple, but you get the gist). Due to the set’s relatively low supply, it will not take much to bump Dragonlord Atarka’s price.

Having said that, her spread has been static for the past few months, at around 36 percent. I would prefer to trade for Dragonlord Atarka rather than spend cash to acquire copies of her. I prefer to save my cash for a different dragonlord, which I will discuss below.

Verdict: Trade for Dragonlord Atarka.

Dragonlord Dromoka

Dragonlord Dromoka

It baffles me why Dragonlord Dromoka is not seeing play in Standard besides cropping up as a one-of sideboard card in Abzan Control. An uncounterable, lifelinking threat with a huge body who also serves as a Grand Abolisher, all at the reasonable price of six mana, surely should have a home. It turns out that at six mana, most people have preferred to jam an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.

Now that lady Elspeth is out of the picture, it may be Dragonlord Dromoka’s time in the limelight, at least in Abzan or decks that can generate green and white mana. Dragonlord Dromoka may not have the same impact-upon-resolution that Elspeth grants, but she is still a sticky, must-answer threat. Resolving Dragonlord Dromoka, especially doing so on curve, often results in your opponent being forced to suffer a tempo setback when forced to deal with Dromoka on his or her turn—and that’s assuming he or she has an answer for a multicolored creature with seven toughness. And if your opponent allows Dragonlord Dromoka to stick on the board for a few turns, your opponent will be on the backfoot of the game.

Dragonlord Dromoka briefly breached $10 but has since returned to her preorder price. At barely $8, I wouldn’t mind sinking in some cash to get a few extra copies, or at least securing my own playset. Trading for Dragonlord Dromoka works as well, but I am not sure how much longer the window for copies under $10 will stay open. On the other hand, Dromoka’s spread is at 40 percent, pretty much telling us that the dealers have minimal confidence in Dromoka.

Verdict: Trade or buy, but don’t wait too long.

On the bright side Dragonlord Dromoka took down this year’s Vintage Championship. Here’s the account from Brian Kelly, who pioneered Dromoka in Vintage and went on to win the tournament, on how he created a new take on an existing archetype.

Also, the crappy brewer in me fantasizes about a Bant deck that curves from Undergrowth Champion to Kiora, Master of the Depths to Dragonlord Ojutai to Dragonlord Dromoka. Too magical Christmasland?

Dragonlord Kolaghan

Dragonlord Kolaghan

Nothing much to see here. Even if a black-red aggro deck were to emerge,  a six drop is probably too expensive to fit into those decks. I’m still quite bummed that Wizards wasted a dragonlord slot on a card that is bafflingly bad.

Verdict: I couldn’t even

Dragonlord Ojutai

Dragonlord Ojutai

Dragonlord Ojutai remains one of my best calls in recent memory. I called him “the most undervalued dragonlord” when he was preselling at $6, citing that Ojutai would “probably turn (out) to be much better than he looks once we get to play with him in our decks.” Hopefully whoever read my article then bought enough Dragonlord Ojutais to make up for the cost of missing out on Dragonlord Atarka.

When Dragonlord Ojutai was hovering around $15 in early August, I called him a good pick-up once again:

Pick-up Ojutai

After a strong showing at the Indianapolis Open last weekend, with appearances in three  of the top-eight lists, Dragonlord Ojutai bumped up to $20. What do I think about picking up Dragonlord Ojutai at $20?

I have a strong suspicion that $20 is not Dragonlord Ojutai’s final price in the new Standard landscape. As Craig Wescoe pointed out in last week’s Brainstorm Brewery episode, the rotation of Hero’s Downfall and Stoke the Flames means the two most popular ways to deal with an attacking Ojutai are gone. Dragonlord Ojutai just got a lot more powerful as a finisher.

Dragonlord Ojutai has no shortage of homes in the new Standard. Esper Dragons, one of the powerhouse decks from last season’s Standard, retained most of its cards in the new Standard. One of the top-eight Jeskai Black (Clay Spicklemire’s) lists ran two Ojutai in the main, and while Gerry Thompson’s Five-Color Bring to Light build did not run any of the dragonlord, Kent Ketter and Joe Lossett made top 16 with their versions, each featuring a singleton Dragonlord Ojutai in the main.

Ojutai Bant’s core, which comprises of the megamorph synergy between Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor, is still available in Battle for Zendikar Standard, and the archetype could see a resurgence, especially with the addition of Gideon and Kiora, which could potentially bolster the deck’s power level.

I am not sure if $20 is the ceiling for a six-month-old mythic with so many potential homes. New supply of Dragonlord Ojutai will likely have trickled to a halt and the highly probably increase in demand could easily result in a $30 or more price tag—I wouldn’t be surprised if Dragonlord Ojutai hits $40 again. Dealer confidence has yet to be seen, as the buylist price for Dragonlord Ojutai has remained at $10 regardless of the retail price bump over the past few days.

Verdict: If you want to assemble your playset of Dragonlord Ojutai, it is unlikely you will be able to find him any cheaper than he is now. If you have an appetite for risk, I do think that Ojutai could hit at least $30, if not $40. 

Dragonlord Silumgar

Silumgar New

Yet another winner from the rotation of Hero’s Downfall. Though you still have Abzan Charm, Valorous Stance, and possibly Utter End to contend with when resolving Dragonlord Silumgar‘s enter-the-battlefield trigger.

Nevertheless, here are a couple of reasons why I am excited about Dragonlord Silumgar right now:



Our very own Jim Casale’s (@Phrost_) tweet brings to mind the fact that Battle for Zendikar Standard may very well feature big creatutes and ramp spells, be it Ulamog or not, and a Sower of Temptation with a higher toughness oozes potential. Just watch the semifinals match between Shoota Yasooka and Ondrej Strasky during Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir to witness the power of Sower against opposing ramp decks. Also note that Dragonlord Silumgar kills Gideon. You know, in case Gideon becomes super popular.

Also, in the worst-case scenario, you could throw Silumgar in the way of whatever Eldrazi titan that is coming your way and he does a pretty good job of removing them.


Only $5!? Dragonlord Silumgar was actually under $5 when I started on this article. Dragonlord Silumgar may not be a key player along the lines of his fellow Dragonlords Atarka and Ojutai, but surely $5 is way too low for a playable mythic from a quickly aging set that was not opened much? Having said that, Dragonlord Silumgar does have a spread of 47 percent. Perhaps the dealers have yet to catch up with the card?

I suspect Dragonlord Silumgar’s low price could be ascribed to the fact that he has not seen play over the past six months or so, besides appearing as a one-of in the sideboard of Esper Dragons. People forgot what a game-breaker resolving a well-timed Dragonlord Silumgar is.

Verdict: I like Dragonlord Silumgar as a pick-up at $5. I am perfectly comfortable picking him up at $5 in cash and/or trade.


A good number of these dragonlords are good short-term picks. They are short term picks because the pecking order for the new Standard has yet to be established, and even though they are powerful and proven cards, with the exception of Dragonlord Ojutai, they can be acquired at their pre-spike prices, or even lower as with the case of Dragonlord Silumgar.

I would like to reiterate that the dragonlords are short-term picks. As I mentioned in a previous article, the fact that Wizards is willing to reprint Standard mythics in its Standard supplementary products increases the risk of holding on to Standard mythic specs for too long. While the dragonlords dodged the Battle for Zendikar Event Deck, there is no guarantee they will not appear in upcoming ones (though it would be a flavor fail, but then again, it does not seem that Wizards is not too bothered with flavor when it comes to Event Decks/Clash Packs).

Thanks for reading. Do share your thoughts in the comments section below or catch me on Twitter at @theguoheng.