Return to Rotation, Part 2
Spoiler time! What is perhaps my and most others’ favorite time of the year has finally concluded earlier this week, and that can mean only one thing: It is time for the financial breakdown of what has been one of the most hyped and presold sets in history! Anyone who says Magic isn’t thriving is simply blind if he still believes that after the monumental numbers this set has shown. Everyone and their conclaves have bought a case of this multicolored crack, so what does that mean for the singles market now and down the line? Typically, it is easy to judge a format’s bombs and where their prices will stabilize, but this set seems to be a bit deceptive. With all of the sealed product being sold, I don’t expect cards on average to reach their typical price points, and beyond that, any card that is typically a few dollars because it is fringe-playable will almost certainly be closer to bulk.
That being said, if enough people start playing again or come back to Standard, the prices may then rise again from what I state here. For these reasons, I am going to give what I feel is a fair estimate of prices now, keeping in mind that down the road, many of these cards may rise due to popularity. It should also be mentioned that I have not looked at a retail sites’ presale prices before this article on purpose this time around to keep this article unbiased from outside sources. I believe this will provide a more accurate price based solely on the factors of playability and collectability instead of the demand for a mythic to be expensive.
Angel of Serenity – I am not sold on this card in most decks in any capacity. However, I do believe this may find a niche home in some reanimation builds, including my pet Séance deck. This is not enough to set the price very high, though, and although this is an Angel it is unlikely she will hold more than collector and Commander value. I would suspect she will end up above bulk but below a true playable number for a mythic.
Precinct Captain – This card seems to be a sure fit in any W/x aggro deck that crops up in the next format, and although it is a rare, I hold high hopes for this guy in the future. Not to stress the point, but due to the overwhelming amount of product being opened for this set, I don’t see this card topping out any higher than a current fringe-playable card. Another strike against this guy is the current format that is shaping up to involve a lot of Zombies mirror matches, which does not bode well for a divergent aggro deck.
Cyclonic Rift – This card is everything I could want for a U/x/x control deck. The fact that it does not return your own planeswalkers when you Evacuate is huge in the current environment. Unfortunately, this card does not feel very rare to me, but I suppose for Limited purposes, this would be a backbreaking effect if you were able to receive more than one in a pool. For Constructed purposes, this is a Boomerang in the early game to keep you alive, and it’s a way to put the nail in the coffin later on down the line.
Jace, Architect of Thought – Most people I have seen talking about this card are dismissing it due to how limited its plus ability is, but I am not so quick to judge. The minus ability—which, left untouched, is a better Fact or Fiction—can quickly overrun your opponent in card advantage. Worst-case scenario this card becomes a miniature Fact or Fiction and conditional Fog, but under the best-case scenario, you can completely shut down any random token decks you may play. The ultimate is certainly geared for Commander, but the first two abilities alone make me believe this may see some Standard play if the correct deck presents itself.
Sphinx of the Chimes – This is one of those cards I have a personal bias for, and I hope it sees a great deal of play. Unfortunately, I don’t see a great engine or deck to allow this card to flourish, but assuming Veilborn Ghoul and this can find a home, you may find one of the greatest card advantage engines in Standard. I truly hold hope for this guy, but as of now, it seems to be a red-headed step child to Consecrated Sphinx.
Desecration Demon – Of all the mono-colored rares in this set, I holds high hopes for this guy. There is almost no downside to this gargantuan Demon unless you are playing a token deck. A 4-mana card that edicts every turn seems playable on its own, and adding a huge flyer that swings when the opponent runs out of guys to the equation seems to be an equation for success. I can see a great deal of different decks from midrange to control looking to run this guy, and with all the play, I feel he may be among the highest-priced rares in the set. I would pick them up now rather than later if you can find them cheap because this guy should never be bulk.
Grave Betrayal – This card doesn’t scream Standard-playable to me, but I can certainly see the Commander applications. As an auto-include in almost every black Commander deck, this card should hold value for years to come. A Grixis control deck may find applications for this card as a finisher, but I would not hold my breath on that affecting the price. Your best bet is to pick up any foil copies you can before the Commander players can snatch them up and you never see them again.
Price: $3;Foil: $15
Necropolis Regent – I certainly don’t see this card seeing a great deal of play outside of Commander, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a casual player’s dream. I doubt the price of this mythic will be affected by Standard, but over time, this guy should only climb. I don’t see this guy reaching Vampire Nocturnus levels, but I can certainly see him hitting the $10 mark after he has rotated a few years from now. It’s certainly not something I would be looking to pick up now, but when this guy hits the bulk-mythic price, I would gather as many as I can and hold them.
Underworld Connections – I again may be biased when it comes to this card, as everyone else views it as a bad Phyrexian Arena. I look at this card and see the ability to draw two cards a turn with Arbor Elf in the late game, making your mana dorks serve double duty instead of just as chump-blockers. This also—unlike Arena—will not kill you if you cannot gain life or speed up your clock. There are of course downsides that come in the form of land destruction, but overall, I feel the upside far outweighs the unlikely scenarios that involve you sitting down from someone running more than a few ways to deal with this.
Ash Zealot – This card is spot-on what red wanted and needed to compete in the coming environment with Snapcaster Mage. Unfortunately, she does nothing against the inevitable tide of Zombies we are going to see directly after rotation, but down the road, when the format slows down and the Zombies have been put to rest, I can see this card having some major applications. In Legacy and Modern, this card should also see play, even if just in the sideboard as a way to deal with Snapcaster Mage and other prevalent threats that come with.
Guild Feud – I love the flavor of this card more than anything else. Beyond the obvious Commander play it will probably see, it also seems like a possible combo-deck option in Modern—and possibly even Standard down the road. Cards like this are always hard to evaluate since the current metagame does not allow them to flourish. When I look at a card like this, I evaluate it on both accounts, and with how much flavor it has, it should already be a hit in casual crowds, making it worth picking up. If this card does ever see competitive play, it will probably spike hard due to how hard to find copies will be since most people will have sold them in bulk. Previous examples such as Splinter Twin show us how easy it is for a card to skyrocket overnight.
Utvara Hellkite – Dragon players may once again rejoice, as Dragons have reclaimed the mythic spot in what has already shaped up to be an amazing set. I like to see Wizards supporting their original word that mythics would be large, flashy cards with game-changing effects; this set has not disappointed in that aspect. I don’t see this card worth a ton to start with, but down the road, it should fetch a pretty penny, with foils demanding multiple times what the regular will be worth.
Price: $4; Future: $10; Foil: $25
Deadbridge Goliath – Unfortunately, mono-green does not seem to offer much in terms of money rares this set, but no worries: It made up for it in multicolored contributions that I will cover next week. This is about the only card in this color that is worth looking at. I have heard a lot of hype about how good this card is, and I can see the applications, but I just can’t come to the same conclusions. Paying 6 for this guy’s ability just doesn’t seem like something that would occur all that often, even when you do have some lowly mana creatures to draw in the late game. Beyond that, a 4-mana 5/5 is nothing that stellar in today’s day and age of Magic, and that begs the question: What makes this guy good? I can see applications in the midrange decks, but with Zombies rushing to victory and all of the grave hate this guy will see, I just can’t see his place in the current environment.
That wraps up this week, as we made it through all the mono-colored cards you should be scouting at the prerelease. Join me next week as we finish out the spoiler just in time for the prerelease. If you have any questions or disagreements, post them in the comments, as I am very excited to hear what the community has to say about this set overall, including the mass printing that should drive the prices down.