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5 Premium Magic Cards Every Commander Player Should Own Under $20

Bolas’s Citadel Old Border Promo Foil – $5

Bolas’s Citadel is in 105k decks on EDHREC, and 12% of all black decks, marking it as a super staple of the format. As a WPN wide distribution promo this version of Bolas’s Citadel has plenty of copies lingering in the secondary market, which is doing a great job of keeping it’s price in check . The old border treatment is very interesting when paired with a colored casting cost artifact and the mystical art of the citadel looks good in the frame. Add in the classic foil WoTC swoosh and you’ve got a solid version of one of the most powerful black cards in the format. 

Double Masters 2×2 Borderless Foil Bounce Lands – $15/set of 10

Providing ramp in multi color EDH decks and the ability to trigger Landfall or abuse CIP effects on your lands, the gorgeous new borderless bounce lands from Double Masters 2022 are super cheap at $2 or less per foil copy and a great edition to any Commander collection with full sets running for just $15. 

MSCHF x Secret Lair Swords to Plowshares – $16

Despite Swords to Plowshares being the 3rd most popular EDH card of the last 2 years according to EDHREC, it hasn’t received that many premium versions that really draw the eye. The MSCHF x Secret Lair may push the definition of budget given a 5x multiplier vs. regular copies, but it is very unlikely to catch a reprint and should age well as copies steadily drain out of the resale market. If you’re playing white in Commander, you are playing this card, so you’ll never be without a place to rock this unique treatment as your deck collection grows.

Arcane Signet Dan Frazier x Secret Lair: $18

There have been plenty of Arcane Signets printed over the last few years, and there will be plenty more in years to come, but the Dan Frazier x Secret Lair version stands head and shoulders above the rest. During the inventory rush when this drop arrived in vendor hands months ago copies could be had for $10-14, but this retro art style by the artist who handled the P9 Moxen is still a solid deal at $18 for the regular version and even $30 for the foil etched. As the second most played card in the format this will be a coveted collectible for years to come.

Secret Lair Blasphemous Act Borderless: $15

The most played sweeper in Commander is easily Blasphemous Act with the card appearing in 30% of all red decks. By far the coolest version of this perennial red staple is the Secret Lair borderless version featuring a homage to horror exploitation films of the 1970s. With massive eye appeal and ultra low chance of reprint, this sexy sweeper wil draw comments at every table you wipe with it.

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PROTRADER: Game Day Deck Tech, KLD Edition

Today is not going to be about the new (old?) Standard rotation structure. I’ll tell you that I like it, though, and I suspect that my LGS’s lagging FNM attendance will improve because of it. Today is going to be the start of a new mini-series, and it’s focused on the aspect of Magic finance that tends to get overlooked.

Players new and old tend to approach the concept of Magic finance as “how can I make my hobby cheaper or free?”, only to realize that most of the conversation in that sphere is between vendors. In honor of Game Day Weekend (and a month of [NEW SET] singles pouring into the market), I’m going to tell you which Standard deck I recommend for the upcoming format. This is for the people who want to play in FNM, PPTQ, and 5k level events but don’t have the time, energy, or resources to learn and buy-in to the entire format. These are not going to be “budget” decks, but a key component in my selecting them is that they are cheap enough to give you a good shot at breaking even. I think this first installment does a good job encapsulating a lot of what I want to get across with this series, so let’s dive in!

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Casual Appeal

I do not spend much money on Magic. In fact, I actively try to invest at little hard cash as possible into this hobby.

My usual spending habit is to get in a draft for about $15, crack those packs, and get my single elimination on. Occasionally I buy individual cards, especially if they are EDH foils, but mostly I limit my spending.

I think of myself as a casual player, despite having written for MTGPrice for more than two years. There are a few cards that I’ve gone after hard and traded for many copies of (Thespian’s Stage, Prophet of Kruphix) because I believed, but I’ve never spent a lot of money.

I have never been a person who is heavy into speculation, but my collection’s value has gone crazy because I rarely dip into my old cards.

We are living in a very strange time for Magic. There’s more people playing this game than ever before, and the players appear to have more money to spend than ever. The structure of the game allows for people to play at the level they are comfortable with, be it in terms of finances, format, styles, anything.

My advice to you is now to never sell your bulk. Store everything. I’m not sure about the cards that are bulk from sets as recent as Theros (just as an example) but the spikes are coming so fast and so frequent that I would hate to move bulk unless I was moving to a much smaller home. Commons are probably okay to get rid of, but uncommons might have some legs, especially selected good uncommons.

Let me give you an example: Inquisition of Kozilek.


I sold 20 of these to a buylist for $5 apiece when they first went to $8, but that was simply because I didn’t know they had gone up to $4 months before. I went back to my Rise of the Eldrazi boxes and got them all out, cackling as I made $100 off of a card that I thought was a crap uncommon. It was crap, too: Inquisition was easily a last-pick card in ROE draft.

I don’t regret selling at that price, because I didn’t expect that three years later, it would be a $25 card. A card spikes and I want to move it out. I’ll have made a ridiculous profit already, and I have zero way of knowing if it’ll get reprinted or banned.

It started as a budget alternative to Thoughtseize but because there’s so many terrifyingly cheap cards in Modern and Legacy, though the reprint version is now cheaper. Thoughtseize also provides a strong example of what can happen if you hold a card indefinitely: If you had them in the summer of 2013, they were at $75, and who knew how high it could go…until it got reprinted in Theros and the value dropped.

I think there are cards in recent sets that are very cheap, which given the right circumstance, might really take off. For instance, Become Immense has proven to be a very potent card, especially with Temur Battle Rage. So far, no one has added Become Immense to Prophetic Flamespeaker, saving a card. Flamespeaker is about $1 now but it could go crazy as soon as one deck puts up results.

I want to look at a pair of recent spikes and think about if there’s room to grow.


I’ve given up trying to predict what card people will latch onto in a fit of hope and speculation. Descendants’ Path is one example, where people decided that they could use Conduit of Ruin to set up for a free Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. This seems awesome, but it hasn’t translated to a deck yet, or at least one with measured success. The card itself hasn’t come down in price yet, and that’s the key for people that were playing and drafting way back in 2012: it was bulk, or just about that price as an EDH card good in tribal decks. Now it’s a $7 card and the time has come to get rid of all the ones you have.


This is different. First of all, it’s from Worldwake, a set that was opened in ridiculously small numbers. Think about it: Zendikar is the most popular set ever at the time (2010!), and the draft format is ZEN-ZEN-WWK for three months before Rise of the Eldrazi came out. There’s not a lot of this card around, and there are decks doing very well with it. Until it’s reprinted, it’s got room to grow but if you have some of these I’d get rid of them now.

Finally, I want to point out that new formats offer unparalleled opportunities. Just in the last couple of years, we’ve seen Tiny Leaders take off (and crash, to some extent) as well as 93/94, also called Old School, and those cards have seen significant growth. Who knows what the next format will be?

Keep everything. Once it spikes, let it go, but until it does, store it all in a safe, dry, and cool place.

PROTRADER: Cube Watch, Oath of the Gatewatch Edition

Greetings! We’ve got a sweet new set in Oath of the Gatewatch, and lots of potential cube cards to cover today, so let’s get right into it.

A couple quick notes: First, I’m saving everything with the new colorless mana symbol for the end, because that’s going to require some extra words. We’ll start with the traditional stuff. Second, while I might mention foils for commons and uncommons, my goal with my Cube articles is to keep costs down as much as possible, so the object here is not to find the cards that are going to go up the most, but to find the best time to buy the cards that we actually want to play with in our cubes. Got it? Let’s go.


Linvala, the Preserver

This is a powerful card, but I’m not sure it beats out cards like Sun Titan or Elesh Norn at the top of white’s curve in Cube. It’s definitely one to test, but I’m not convinced it will make anything but the most expansive lists.

As for its financial future, Standard could bring its price up in the short term, but there’s no way it sees play in any eternal competitive formats. It’s probably fine in Commander, but it doesn’t seem insane. While it could surprise us in the short term, this should be way less than its preorder price in the long term.

(Note: All TCGplayer mid prices cited in this article were pulled on the day of writing, January 15, 2016. They may have definitely changed since that date.)

TCGplayer mid: $7.49
Likelihood to get a cube slot: Medium-low
Verdict: Wait to buy

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expensive cards

ProTrader: Magic doesn’t have to be expensive.