A First Look At Khans

Chas Andres delves deep into Khans of Tarkir finance! Find out where the fetchlands are going, what the important mythics of the set really are, and what cards outside of Khans may go up as a result of new cards!

At long last, Khans of Tarkir spoiler season is here! Khans is shaping up to be a very exciting set filled with very powerful multicolored cards that –

Yeah, yeah, we’ll get to that. Let’s talk about a couple of mythic rares first. Narset, for example –

Fine, you win. We’ll cover the fetchlands first and get to the other goodies later in the article. I’ve been hammered with questions about the fetches for
a solid week now, so I’m going to start out by providing some answers to the things I’ve been asked about the most.

How Cheap Will the New Fetchlands Get?

Star City is pre-selling Polluted Delta for $30, Flooded Strand for $25, and the other three fetchlands for $20 each. This is higher than the shocklands
pre-sold for when they were spoiled in Return to Ravnica (those were listed between $15 and $20). It is also higher than the pre-sale price for the
Zendikar fetchlands, which ended up in the $8-$15 range while Standard legal.

This makes sense, of course. The ‘Khanslaught’ fetchlands are much more powerful than the Ravnica shocklands, and there were many more shocks out there
before Return to Ravnica dropped than there are Onslaught fetches right now because the original Ravnica block was both more recent and more popular than
Onslaught was. Many Modern players already had their Ravnica shocks before Return to Ravnica was released, but the only players who have their Onslaught
fetches right now are the dedicated Vintage and Legacy mages. The immediate demand for these lands will need to feed the two most popular Constructed
formats along with the competitively casual crowd as well as any Legacy player who doesn’t have their full set yet.

In addition, fetchlands have an incredibly strong financial track record. Everyone remembers Scalding Tarn hitting $100 earlier this year, and Polluted
Delta was in the same range just last week. Many players are going to buy their set of twenty as soon as they hit the streets without worrying too much
about the price. I can’t fault anyone for making this decision either. For $460, you’ll have a full set of lands that are going to be tier one in Standard
for eighteen months and in Modern and Legacy forever. If you don’t want to nickel and dime this one, I get it. Go forth and pre-order.

I do think the new fetchlands will go down in price though. Fetchlands are incredibly popular, ergo Khans of Tarkir will be incredibly popular. People will
open cases of this set for the fetchlands alone. I doubt they’ll drop below $10, but I could certainly see them settling in the $15-$20 range with some of
the lower-end ones selling in the $12-$14 range. It will take a few months before they get to this point though, so buying now is reasonable if you want to
play competitive Standard before then. If you’re a casual player or you’re okay waiting to save a few bucks, I expect that the new fetches will bottom out
for the first time around Christmas and again next summer. These lands are more Snapcaster Mage than Temple Garden in terms of supply and demand though, so
I doubt we’ll see a major drop anytime soon. Snapcaster Mage stuck around the $20-$25 mark for months before finally becoming cheaper, and I expect the
same thing to happen with the Khanslaught lands.

What Will Happen to the Zendikar fetchlands? Will They be Reprinted Soon as Well?

For some reason, this question has been weirdly partisan and divisive. I’ve seen dozens of Twitter fights break out over this, and players are adamant
either that we’ll see the Zendikar fetches this spring or that we won’t see them for at least a couple of years. Here are the main arguments on both sides:

We will see the Zendikar fetchlands this spring because:

  • Mark Rosewater has said that R&D will try and balance enemy and allied mana fixing in each format going forward. The Zendikar fetches will complete
    the cycle of ten, giving Standard brewers equal access to all of their options.

  • Players expect the cycle to be completed. WotC likes to meet these kinds of expectations to please the player base. Pushing them off would make people
    confused and upset.

  • This set has two large blocks that won’t be drafted together. It makes sense that the other five fetches will be in the spring set so that people will be
    excited about opening fetches all year.

  • Fetchland prices in Modern were insane before this announcement. Clearly, they’re trying to do something drastic about making the format more accessible.
    Why wouldn’t they finish the job, especially when the Zendikar fetches are necessary for some budget decks in Modern?

  • Because of the way set rotation works now, Khans will rotate out of Standard six months before the spring 2015 set does. This means that Standard will be
    lacking a full set of dual lands when Khans rotates if there isn’t good fixing in the spring set.

  • Reprinting the Zendikar fetches now will keep the secondary market prices for all ten lands relatively close together.

  • It is possible that the spring set is Return to Zendikar. The Zendikar fetchlands would fit in well.
  • We won’t see the Zendikar fetchlands for at least a couple of years because:

  • WotC only has a certain amount of silver bullets – cards they can print that will guarantee them a massive reaction and a huge sales influx. Fetchlands
    are one of those bullets but only as long as they keep them scarce enough to remain exciting. Printing the Zendikar fetchlands in spring will make people
    happy, but it won’t make them explode with joy. If they wait a few years, it will do a much better job selling packs.

  • Balancing allied and enemy colors within a block is no longer necessary – block isn’t a real format anymore. In Standard, the allied fetchlands are
    nicely balanced by the enemy painlands in M15.

  • R&D doesn’t really like fetchlands – they slow the game down with too much shuffling. They’ll print them in order to assuage demand, but they’d
    rather keep their impact to a minimum. With ten fetchlands available, the amount of shuffling in a Standard match will be that much greater.

  • The influx of five new cheap fetchlands into Modern opens a safety valve on the price of the Zendikar fetchlands. They have already dropped in price
    since the announcement because players have more options. These reprints are (arguably) no longer urgently needed for the health of the format.
  • I personally believe that we will NOT see the Zendikar fetchlands this spring. I think that WotC will hold off until demand for them is at a fever pitch
    yet again. Many will disagree with me though, which is a big part of why the Zendikar fetchlands have dropped in price between 20-30% over the past week.

    If you believe the Zendikar fetchlands will be back soon, I still suggest holding off selling yours until later this year. People will still need them to
    play Modern, and the fear of them being reprinted won’t loom as large in everyone’s mind after a couple of months. If you don’t believe that they’ll be
    back soon, now is a pretty great time to buy in. Optimal deckbuilding in Modern still requires access to all ten of these lands, and they’re available
    right now at a discount. It’s a scary purchase right now, but it may well be the bottom of the Zendikar fetchland market for the foreseeable future.

    How Will the Fetchlands Affect Values in the Rest of the Set?

    While a set is still in print, the average value of the tradable cards in a booster pack cannot exceed the retail cost of the pack by more than a very
    small amount. If that equation is too far out of whack, stores and dealers will begin cracking packs for product and pumping more singles into the market.
    This leads to lower prices as the ratio of singles prices to pack prices evens itself out.

    Ben Bleiweiss knows how important this ratio is, and he tracks this information as cards are
    spoiled in each installment of his daily financial value series. You can use his calculations to your advantage – if you see the average pack value climb
    to a crazy number, plan for many of the prices dropping significantly after release. If the number stays low, many of the cards will either stay the same
    or rise in value.

    Sets with a cycle of really good rare lands tend to debut with a pack value on the very high side of retail. Return to Ravnica had a pack value approaching
    $5 during spoiler season, which was nuts. If the shocklands were going to stay that high after release, other prices had to drop. This happened rather
    quickly, and casual multicolored rares took the biggest hit. Armada Wurm pre-sold for $15, Rakdos, Lord of Riots for $10, Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius for $10,
    and Vraska, the Unseen for a whopping $40. All of these cards would eventually stabilize in the $2-$5 range.

    If you believe that the Khanslaught fetchlands will stay in the $15-$20 range over the long haul (and especially if you think they’ll stay at $20 and
    above!), you should be very bearish on all the other prices in the set. There is only so much value to go around, and the fetchlands are going to command a
    lot of it. This will depress prices in Khans across the board, and I expect there will be a major drop in singles value once the set hits shelves. That
    isn’t to say there can’t be any other expensive staples in Khans of Tarkir – Sphinx’s Revelation was also in Return to Ravnica, after all – but there will
    be fewer and they will peak lower thanks to the presence of the fetchlands.

    With that sobering reminder, let’s move on to some of the other juicy Khans spoilers. There have been too many awesome cards spoiled to cover in adequate
    depth in just one week, so I’m going to focus on the mythic rares for now. We’ll get to the others when my set review continues next Monday.

    Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker – $25

    It doesn’t take much to earn the title of “best red planeswalker,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if Sarkhan takes over the mantle at some point this year. As
    of right now, he is one of the few no-doubt-about-it tier one staples in the entire set. He can come down and nuke an opposing creature right away or
    attack if you’re ahead on the board. This sort of versatility reminds me a little of Gideon Jura, who was a very impactful planeswalker in his day. Sarkhan
    is also the “face” of Khans, and Wizards R&D wants its marquee cards to be Standard playable. I see Sarkhan following an Elspeth-esque curve over the
    next year, dropping as low as $15 and peaking as high as $35 depending on how much play it’s seeing at the time.

    Sorin, Solemn Visitor – $15

    I don’t like this Sorin variant as much as the one from Dark Ascension. Sorin, Lord of Innistrad ticked up to make tokens, while this one ticks down, a
    crucial difference even accounting for the size and evasive quality of the tokens. It is worth noting that the Solemn Visitor gives your team +1/+0 and
    lifelink until the beginning of your next turn though, which makes it a much better defensive planeswalker. That’s a good thing considering this guy’s
    ultimate is relatively easy to achieve and fairly powerful. I also like that Sorin, Solemn Visitor gives you something to do on an empty board, allowing
    you to protect your planeswalker while turning board stalls into potential game-breaking scenarios. That, to me, is the mark of a Standard playable
    planeswalker. I think that Sorin will see enough play to keep his price in the $10-$15 range, and he could even trend higher if a W/B-based control deck
    turns out to be strong. I’d be shocked if he busts completely. For the first time in quite a few sets, I expect that both planeswalkers from Khans will be
    solid playables.

    Clever Impersonator – $15

    I think “best clone ever” is a little overblown. Phantasmal Image and Phyrexian Metamorph are both more powerful cards because they are significantly
    easier to cast. I doubt that Clever Impersonator will supplant either in Eternal formats, though I do still expect it to show up in Modern.

    That said, wow. Clever Impersonator is a very strong card. It’s an immediate Cube and Commander staple, and I have no doubt it will see play in Standard
    this season. It’s versatile, powerful, and lots of fun. I have no doubt that it will lead to some pretty amazing plays, both in Standard and casual Magic.

    Is $15 too high a price though? For now, I think so. There are only four cards at $10 or higher in Theros right now, and I doubt that Khans of Tarkir will
    be that much different. Clever Impersonator would have been a $15-$20 card had it been printed in M15 or Dragon’s Maze, but a whole lot of this set is
    going to be opened. I see it settling in the $8-$10 range, though it’s certainly a spike candidate once the set leaves print. I’m holding off for now,
    despite my love for the card itself.

    Anafenza, the Foremost – $8

    As I stated above, I’m pretty low on three-color rares and mythic rares thanks to the way overall pack value needs to shake out, especially considering how
    much I like some of the other high end cards in this set. They may have long-term casual value after Khans of Tarkir leaves print, but most of them will
    drop pretty hard over the short term. Remember: everyone who plays Black or Blue in their deck needs to at least consider running Polluted Delta, but only
    players running Black, White, and Green will consider Anafenza.

    That said, I actually like Anafenza to maintain at least half of her value. A 4/4 for three is great value–Loxodon Smiter saw plenty of play–and
    Anafenza’s static ability may prove relevant in a Standard with delve decks running around. She’s not that exciting in Commander, though she’s a reasonable
    utility card that will occasionally be quite good. Might she see play alongside Doran in Modern at some point? Even if not, I doubt she’ll drop to much
    lower than $4. I still wouldn’t come close to preordering here though.

    Wingmate Roc – $8

    This card has been the subject of some hype, but I’m not on board. The only thing that’s giving me pause is the belief that Wingmate Roc must have done
    something crazy in testing in order to have gotten the bump to mythic rare. It seems so bad, in other words, that it must actually be good.

    Broodmate Dragon was certainly good in its day, but the Roc only makes its Stangg Twin if you’ve already attacked – not the hardest trigger in the world,
    but not something that’s going to happen every time either. And if you don’t trigger raid, Wingmate Roc is a worse Serra Angel. Would people even be
    looking twice at this card if it were rare instead of mythic? I doubt it. I’m calling this a future bulk mythic, albeit with some trepidation.

    Narset, Enlightened Master – $6

    Narset is
    one of Ben’s favorite Standard sleepers
    , but I don’t see it. For six mana, I need more than a 3/2 body without evasion. Hexproof and first strike are nice, but this still loses to a lowly
    Courser of Kruphix in a fight. And even if you do hit with it, you’re getting, what, a free burn spell or a piece of targeted removal if you’re lucky? Or
    else you have to build an entire deck around her? Nope, Narset’s future is in Commander, where she will thrive alongside Plague Wind, Time Stretch, and
    Eldrazi Conscription.

    If you want to build with Narset in either Standard or Commander, pick up foils. They will likely stay high thanks to casual demand. I expect the normal
    printing to hit bulk mythic status, while the foil will likely maintain its premium. If you’re willing to wait though, normal copies of this should be
    quite cheap before long.

    See the Unwritten – $5

    If we get Eldrazi at any point while See the Unwritten is in Standard, I can see it jumping from bulk mythic prices up to the $6-$8 range as the hype train
    rolls on. Until then, this is a pretty unexciting card. It might slot into the self-mill deck, which will need a healthy dose of creatures to work
    correctly, but I’m not sure how many of them are going to be all that big. Six mana is a lot too, so I can’t see that deck running more than two or three
    of these. Even if it sees play, I can’t imagine the price jumping all that much or all that soon. Let’s call it a bulk mythic with some sleeper potential.

    Empty the Pits – $5

    The playability of Empty the Pits is even more metagame dependent than most of the spells on this list. In order for it to be good, the format will need a
    dedicated control deck that is either mono-black or some kind of Esper or U/B number that plays multiple copies of Urborg. The deck will have to be a
    spell-based control deck too, because the only reason Empty the Pits might be good is because it’s an instant speed finisher. The card has limited utility
    because the zombies come into play tapped, so you can’t fire off a midgame Empty the Pits to make surprise blockers. If you’re going to be tapping out a
    bunch, it makes more sense to finish with an Elspeth or something, but if holding up mana is important in Khans Standard, this card might become a format

    Empty the Pits has more potential variance than any other card on this list. It is very likely to end up as a bulk mythic, but it’s also the only card on
    here I could see pulling a Sphinx’s Revelation on us. I’m not a buyer at $5, but if I start to hear pros rumbling about how this card solves the format,
    I’ll be changing my tune fairly quickly. Don’t sleep on this one.

    Sidisi, Brood Tyrant – $4

    Sidisi, Brood Tyrant provides five power for four mana more often than not, and she plays well with Pharika, God of Affliction and the other self-mill
    cards in the format. I would be surprised if there isn’t a semi-competitive delve deck in the new Standard, and Sidisi will likely be a part of it. If the
    deck ends up being tier one, Sidisi could briefly leap toward chase mythic territory and the $10-$15 range. If it isn’t, $3-$5 is a much more likely end
    point. With that in mind, $4 is a very solid pre-order price. Feel free to grab a few copies if this is the sort of deck you love playing.

    Ugin’s Nexus – $4

    The most exciting part of this card is that it references Ugin. I assume we’re going to get to time travel and meet him in the next set, which will be
    awesome. Ugin messed around with the Eldrazi in his day too, so we very well might see them this winter as well.

    As for the card itself, Ugin’s Nexus is a miss for me. Extra turns are annoying in Commander but not to the point where I want to spend an entire card and
    a turn to protect myself from them. And if I want to take extra turns myself, I’d rather not muck about with five-drop artifacts that need to be
    sacrificed. Future bulk mythic.

    Zurgo Helmsmasher – $3

    People are sleeping on Zurgo a little because he was announced about a month ago at Comic-Con. Haste is an underrated ability, and this guy is nearly
    impossible to kill without a removal spell. If there is an aggressive three-color deck (kind of an oxymoron, I know) I expect Zurgo to be in the middle of

    Just like Polukranos, however, Zurgo is the marquee card in a duel deck. This will keep the price way down – even if it sees a ton of play, its ceiling is
    somewhere in the $7-$8 range. That was a gamble I was unwilling to make at $5, but with the price drop to $3 I kind of like Zurgo as a low-end spec target.
    You could do worse than adding a couple of these to your order just in case.

    This Week’s Trends

    – Do you know what the most expensive card in Standard is right now, towering roughly twice as high as the next priciest mythic? Nissa, Worldwaker. I still
    love her (and have ever since my set review), but I’m not picking up copies – even for personal use – until I see how the new environment shakes out. There
    is no upside here anymore.

    – Other high end Standard cards on a major upward trend: Keranos, God of Storms (doubled over the past week!), Courser of Kruphix, Kiora, the Crashing
    Wave, Mana Confluence, Sylvan Caryatid, and Polukranos, World Eater. Many of the other gods, like Nylea and Purphoros, are also on the rise, albeit on a
    much slower trajectory. Theros block as an index continues to surge upwards, so if you want any cards from last year, pick them up now. Return to Ravnica,
    meanwhile, hasn’t bottomed out yet. I’ll write a ‘what to buy post rotation’ article up once it does.

    – I wouldn’t mind picking up old Commander cards that play well with the wedges, especially ones that have only been printed once. Most of the cards from
    the Commander 2013 set have already spiked, but Guided Passage, Doran, the Siege Tower, and Fervent Charge are all cheap and interesting specs. I snagged a
    couple of Guided Passages myself – it’s an amazing card in a political multiplayer game where you’ve forged a temporary alliance.