Tag Archives: rotation

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Shadows over Innistrad at Rotation

Ixalan previews should be starting next week, to match with the pre-previews that are being officially released due to geotagging and if you want to ignore the unofficial leaks, I respect that.

Today, though, I’m continuing to look at cards that are about to rotate, and what I want to pick up now that they are super cheap. A couple of weeks ago I looked at some great targets from Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch, and it’s time to look at the other big set that’s rotating out. (Eldritch Moon will be soon!)

We are looking for any of the following factors, or a combination thereof: Modern use, Legacy use, Commander use, Cubes, and other casual play. The more of those groups that want these cards, the better a bet they are.

The caveat, as always: We don’t know what will and won’t be reprinted. FTV: Zendikar could happen. We’ve got several Commander 2017 cards that should have been reprinted but weren’t, and a lot more that it’s a relief that they did get reprinted.

Foils are not a totally safe bet either, with Masters sets and Conspiracy and special releases, but foils can go up if the nonfoil is reprinted in a set like Commander 2017.

On to the cards!

Nahiri, the Harbinger ($10 regular/$35 foil): The foil is at the upper end of where I’d expect a card to be, and that’s because she’s really good at what she does. Exiling permanents is quite powerful in Commander, but you have to tap the creature or artifact first. It’s unlikely that she’ll nail a Darksteel Forge, for instance.

She pops up in Modern from time to time but never with frequency and isn’t the focus of a deck. I want to wait and see if she falls a bit further, as $10 is too high for my taste. I’m more comfortable getting in at $7 and playing a long game.

Relentless Dead ($7.50/$15 foil): I’ll be honest: I had a stack of these that I picked up when this was around $5 and moved out at the spike. This is an amazing tribal card in one of the most resilient tribes, and it can do some truly disgusting things in Commander. I’m surprised that the foil is so low, and this is one of my top targets at rotation for long-term growth from the casual market.

I would prefer the card to get cheaper, but the $15 foil is incredibly tempting. Zombies would seem to be a lock for the next time the Commander decks get tribal, and the foil will be much more resilient than the nonfoil in such a case.

Archangel Avacyn ($6/$15): She’s got one hurdle to clear: FTV Transform in November. I’m hoping she’s trickled down to $5, and if she dodges reprinting in that set, the difficulty in printing double-faced cards means she’s probably safe.

Startled Awake ($5/$8): Now this…this is a foil I want to have, but I can’t shake the FTV idea for this either. It’s a powerhouse mill card, and it’s reusable, and casual players are why Fraying Sanity isn’t a bulk rare. There’s only about 50 foils on TCG, the multiplier is low, but I’m not moving till that FTV list is out.

Arlinn Kord ($4/$8): We are now in an era where there’s enough planeswalkers to fill out a Commander deck easily. That means mediocre ones like her aren’t guaranteed to grow. She’s cheap, sure, and pops right into your Werewolf tribal deck, but it’ll take so long to grow that I don’t think she’s worth it.

Tireless Tracker ($4/$11): I’m picking up foils of this as fast as my budget can stand. There’s less than a hundred on TCG right now, and that includes prerelease foils. What you need to know is that this is popping up in several Modern decks as a value engine, and even in the sideboard of Lands decks in Legacy. This will be going up, and it’ll spike into the $20-$30 range when it settles.

Traverse the Ulvenwald ($4/$13): Another card with a relatively low number of foils on TCG (less than 80 total as of this writing) everything depends on which build of Death’s Shadow you like in Modern. If you like the Grixis better, this is worthless. If you play a version with Tarmogoyf, then you want four Traverse. These are not going to go down much, but I like the foils more for a spike in the next year, with nonfoils coming along for the ride. The Delirium mechanic makes it a little less likely to be reprinted soon but nothing is for sure.

Thalia’s Lieutenant ($1.50/$3): I dearly love this foil at $3, for two reasons: First, it’s an automatic four-of in any competitive Humans build that might pop up in Modern. A couple decks have tried, but no traction yet. Second, as a tribal enabler in foil, it will go up, even if the card is reprinted in a future tribal set.

For an example of this effect, here’s the graph of Dragon Tempest in foil:

The nonfoil has taken a small hit, but it’s in the Dragon deck, so the foil is where you want to be. Grab your foil Lieutenants now.

The Gitrog Monster ($1.50/$10): It doesn’t seem like that long ago, when all kinds of stuff was spiking madly due to his use in Commander. The enormous foil multiplier remains a strong sign of his appeal there, so picking him up now is an investment in slow growth over a very long term.

Seasons Past ($1/$3): I’m pretty bullish on this, especially for such a cheap foil mythic. We’ve already seen that with a tutor, it’s viable in Standard, so imagine the work it’ll do in Commander. This is probably not going to spike, so you’ll be on the ‘stick in a box and be patient plan’ that has served well for a number of EDH cards.

Prized Amalgam ($1/$5): It’s been pointed out as an easy target, and it has a surprising foil multiplier for a card that’s hard to use in casual formats easily, but this is easy mode. It’s a four-of in a Modern deck that comes and goes in waves, $5 for the foil is too cheap. It’ll spike to at least $10 after it does well on camera in some event, and with Modern being back on the PT, it might spike a lot harder.

Duskwatch Recruiter ($1/$4): Not only is this difficult to reprint, it’s one of the ways the Counters Company deck can instantly win, finding Walking Ballista at instant speed. It’s also a fantastic place to dump mana in Commander, and as an uncommon, there aren’t even any prerelease foils to mess with. TCG currently has 23 foils in assorted conditions.

I would love this a whole lot more if it didn’t feel like a very strong contender to be in the FTV this November, so as you can tell, I’m hesitating until we know what’s in that set.


I’ll admit, I’m terrified to write about what looks good and bad to get in the tribal decks that are coming out on the 25th, and lots of people are writing about what looks good to pick up. I’m very likely to get the Dragon deck, and possibly the Vampire one too, and I’m relatively certain that they will be stuffed full of value. I am not getting anything related to the decks until I see some decklists, though.

Today, though, I want to look ahead about six weeks: September 28, 2017 is when Ixalan is released and at that time, Shadows over Innistrad block and Battle for Zendikar block will rotate out of Standard. These cards are mostly at their lowest point, aside from the ones already seeing a lot of Modern and Legacy play.

Hard to believe, but the two years that Gideon, Ally of Zendikar has spent looming over Standard is over. So let’s see what’s worth picking up.

Battle for Zendikar


Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger ($13/$37 foil): This is a touch higher than I want to pay for this card right now. I would much prefer to be picking up nonfoils at $10 or less, because the appeal is there. Tron is popular in several flavors, but almost all of them have at least one of this monster lurking. The cast trigger is incredibly powerful in Commander too, and the only caveat is that we likely aren’t far from FTV: Eldrazi.

Foils for this card were as high as $80 when this was first adopted into Tron decks, but it’s now down to the $40 range and I think that’s a very good price. A reprint in foil is very unlikely, and even something like an FTV wouldn’t ding the original much. Seeing this double, and getting back to the $80 range in 12-18 months seems like a safe bet.

Shambling Vent ($3/$8): Yes, it’s unexciting, but it’s seeing a surprisingly significant amount of play in Modern. There are a lot of different black/white decks, and in this case, I am aiming for $2 pickups. I don’t think there is the same long-term appeal for foils, but creaturelands have been shown to be some of the more consistent players in the format. Foils are a good target too, but I think it will take a lot of time for these to go up. If you’re patient, it’s a good play.

Part the Waterveil ($2/$7): I’ve sung the virtues of this card before, but even the publicity over the Taking Turns deck this year wasn’t enough to keep this price up. This is the best of the newer extra turns cards (new ones all exile themselves) because the Awaken ability is a game plan all its own. I don’t think these will go much lower, and the growth potential is there.

Sanctum of Ugin ($0.75/$5): I love foils here for long-term growth. This is one of those cards that will just keep getting better with each colorless creature that’s printed. Having some foils put away for the inevitable spike will make you feel good.


Oath of the Gatewatch

Wastes, Full-Art, foil ($8-$10): There’s two full-art Wastes that you can pick up, and I think foils for this are rock-solid to go up. I know other writers have mentioned this card, even as far back as the release of this set, but getting these at $10 or under will pay off handsomely. I doubt that even if they decide to add colorless to Modern Masters 2023 or whatever, they will recycle the art. There’s a lot of casual demand for basic lands that are colorless, and Tron decks often run one or two, for something to find when Path to Exile lands.

Sea Gate Wreckage, foil ($3): The casual market is slowly sapping the supply on this card, and it shows up as a spicy one-of in a lot of different Modern lists. If you’ve ever seen someone use this on camera, you know how helpless the other player feels. When this hits, it’ll break $10 or more. Thank me later.

Stormchaser Mage, foil ($4): If you’ve seen blue-red Delver decks on a stream, you’ve seen these in play as a flying Swiftspear. It all depends on your level of comfort picking up niche Legacy cards. This was a three-of in the 9th place Legacy deck at the SCG team event three weeks ago, and I feel like it’s one good event away from hitting it big.

Chandra, Flamecaller ($5/$12): She is rarely a bad card to have on your side, and what’s really appealing is the range of possibilities. I don’t think she will fall much farther, so getting her now and being patient is the plan. Remember that this set got opened less than the sets around it, due to the Eldrazi menace and the effect on packs. For that same reason, I like picking up the Expedition filter lands–the supply on these is a lot lower than you think it is.

Eldrazi Displacer ($4/$12): If you didn’t want to listen to us when it came to Reality Smasher or Thought-Knot Seer foils, well, please take those lessons to heart: The Displacer will spike too. There’s less Modern play for this, but a lot more casual demand. At this writing, there’s about 110 available on TCGPlayer, and that’s for the pack foil and the prerelease foil combined. (for reference, Sylvan Advocate, a card which was ever-present in Standard for quite a while, has 175 pack foils and 140 prerelease foils) I know it’ll go to $20. I wouldn’t be shocked if it got to $30 considering the appeal in Commander.


Cliff has been a mostly-casual player since his first Revised packs in 1995, and has sold out/rebuilt his collection several times. His favorite format has shifted from Commander to Cube in recent years, and the range of ways to play are always amazing to him. You can read his weekly Friday pieces here on MTGPrice or follow him on Twitter @Wordofcommander.

Preparing for BFZ Rotation

I wrote a lot of words when 18-month Standard was introduced. Many many pixels were burned out with the weight of speculation about what would happen to prices.

So now, we are looking down the barrel of the realigned plan, with Shadows Over Innistrad block and Battle for Zendikar block both rotating at the end of September. That’s about five months away, but with this current infusion of energy and vitality into Standard brewing, I want to look at what’s worth keeping till the end and what you should be getting rid of soon.

Battle for Zendikar

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar ($25): I would get rid of any extras you have. He’s got some appeal outside Standard, especially as he makes an Ally every turn, but he’s a small presence in a couple of Modern sideboards and that’s it. He’s still the defining card of Standard, though, while he remains legal.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger ($23): I recognize that this card is about the best thing that Aetherworks Marvel can cast, and is a four-of in those Standard decks. Keep in mind, though, that this is also one of the best things to do in Modern Tron, and is also a popular card in the semi-niche Legacy Cloudpost decks. The foils available for $40 or less are something I would like to have going forward, as the Commander appeal is high. Keep all you have right now–he’s not going to dip far, if at all, when he rotates.

Sunken Hollow ($4) and the other double-check lands: If you think Frontier has a future, this is a fun spec. Fetches will be legal, and these would be among the choices for fetchable duals, since shocklands aren’t going to be allowed. I’m not going to load up on these, not yet. There is a market for these until September, as manabases are going to play lots and lots of duals (and Islands especially, for Engulf the Shore).

Part the Waterveil ($3.50): I don’t think these will fall very much, but this is among the best of the Time Walk effects in the modern day. I’m going to be trading for these on sight for the next year as a long-term hold.

Oath of the Gatewatch

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet ($22): If you like Golgari, or delirium decks, you love this card in Standard. Otherwise, he’s ready to take a big dive. I don’t want to have any at all in my possession when rotation hits. Keep your four if you love the deck in Standard, but he’s a one-of in Modern Jund and while he’s good in Commander, he’s not good enough to keep his price high. A loss down to the $10-$12 range seems likely.

Kozilek’s Return ($11): I’d get out of this card too. It’s already done some funky tricks with its price during its time in Standard, and it’s seeing very little play outside Standard. Get rid of them.

Chandra, Flamecaller ($7): Overshadowed by the Torch, and it’s going to lose some big value at rotation. Sell/trade away all of your copies.

Thought-Knot Seer ($7): The spotlight is off of the Eldrazi in Standard, but my goodness, this is a popular card in older formats. I’m advocating that you keep the ones you have, and aggressively go after more, especially the $20 foils that will be popping at some point.

Eldrazi Displacer ($7): Thought-Knot shines in Modern, and Displacer is not only good in that format but it’s an all-star in Commander. I’m in for picking these up in foil or in nonfoil. We know that the Commander decks this year are tribal, and having one of those decks be Eldrazi seems unlikely.

Oath of Nissa ($4): Not worth keeping, and I’ll get in on some foils after rotation if they fall to about $3, as I think that’s a good entry point for the effect in Superfriends Commander decks.

Sea Gate Wreckage: ($1.50/$3): I’d be picking these up all over the place going forward. I love the potential when it gets lower and lower, but it’s seeing just enough play to keep it out of bulk territory.

What does it mean?

So in case you missed it, we are back to one rotation a year, and that rotation will be in the fall, just as it used to be. But what does it mean? What cards and strategies are impacted? Should I buy now? Should I hold?

Well, it’s actually not that earth-shattering an announcement, considering that the old model didn’t have very long to take root. I freely admit that I don’t play a lot of Standard, so this decision was likely a reflection of conversations with R&D, vendors, distributors, local stores, and of course players. I don’t feel the need to parse the words of the announcement, but I do respect that they are listening to concerns and acting when they can.

A longer rotation means, for us, a return to what many of us consider ‘normal’ cycles with regard to the prices of cards. I have been watching Gideon, Ally of Zendikar for some time, and considering that a bellwether for what good cards should be expected to do financially. In this case, and in a lot of cases, cards aren’t spiking due to Standard demand. Cards were setting a price early and trickling downward, at different rates depending on how much it’s played.

Before the change, there was a point about one year after release when some middling to great cards would spike nicely. My favorite example from recent times was Hero’s Downfall.


Mmmm. Pure, undiluted value. That spike at the rise of Mono-Black Devotion. One of the things I love doing is hunting for the value that will be, and lots of us write about it.

With the 18-month schedule, it’s very difficult for that spike to happen. Cards are going to rotate out so soon, there wasn’t much time to enjoy your deck, especially for cards released in the second set.

Let’s look at Kozilek’s Return.


The power of the card, the need for a four-of, and that it was a mythic in a small set, all contributed to the gain in value, but I don’t think it went as high as it could have, because people knew they were getting a card just for the next few months.

Now, if you pick up some Gideons or Returns, you’re going to be able to play them until next October, making it a lot more palatable to drop the money on a playset.

Gideon is one example, and Return seems likely to pick up a couple bucks, but those aren’t going to grow a lot. I also think that while Liliana, the Last Hope is really well positioned against the swarm of aggressive and tiny creatures in Standard, being at $45 doesn’t leave much area for growth.

Ob Nixilis, Reignited – $4.90 – I know he’s an easily available foil in the Duel Deck that dropped in September, but this is a very cheap price for a strong mythic planeswalker. He does everything a control deck wants, and at worst, he’ll replace himself immediately before getting answered. Being in the Duel Deck is going to seriously cap his value, but cheap planeswalkers are always a solid investment.

Quarantine Field – $1.13 – It’s a bad deal at four mana, but good at six and game-breaking at eight. A dollar mythic is always going to get my attention, though I think Fragmentize puts a top on how high this can go.

Goblin Dark-Dwellers – $1.17 – This was the buy-a-box promotional card so there’s more of them, but this is a card good enough to show up in Modern. I’m a big fan of cards with nowhere to go but up, and we just got a good lesson in how good replaying spells can be, thanks to Torrential Gearhulk. Having flash makes the Gearhulk better, but I like this at a buck.

Oath of Nissa – $2.50 – It’s a rare from a small set that gets played as a four-of. I like getting these and waiting for them to go up to the $4-$5 range.

Cryptolith Rite – $1.37 – Have we forgotten how good these swarm decks can be? This is a real enabler of a card that has good potential to spike.

Declaration in Stone – $5.39 – An excellent candidate to go up now that it’s legal for six more months. If Prized Amalgam decks go up as well, then this or Descend upon the Sinful will really spike.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow – $8.41 – This is a very powerful card, and mythics from this set stand to do very well with the extra time in Standard. I’d look for this to spike by $5 or more when it hits big.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher – $11.41 – There’s two other mythics from this set that are $20+ and all it’s going to take is one good set of results at an SCG open or a GP for this to spike. The supply is rather low (remember, this lost time being drafted due to Conspiracy: Take the Crown) and this could easily be the third card to hit that price.