Context is everything.
Here in Los Angeles it costs $30 to $35 for two people to have a fairly nice dinner at a restaurant. This includes tax and tip, two entrees, an appetizer, and maybe a couple of sodas but no dessert or alcoholic beverages. Whenever I spend more than $40 on a dinner out, I usually feel ripped off unless I had a fine dining experience. If I can get out of a restaurant for under $20, I’m thrilled.
Yesterday afternoon I did my supermarket shopping for the week. Instead of going to Ralph’s with a circular and trying to save money, I decided to splurge at Trader Joe’s. I bought the ingredients for several of my favorite dinners: cheeseburgers with Muenster and green chili made from lean New Zealand beef; fresh pork chops with vegetables and apple sauce; pasta with onion and apple smoked chicken sausage; and homemade chili with fresh tomatoes, peppers, and beans. I even got some fruit floes for desert. The final tally? $47. That’ll buy me four meals for myself and Emma not counting leftovers.
This isn’t news to any of you. We all know that cooking is massively cheaper than ordering in or eating out—otherwise, only true gourmands would cook. In the moment, though, we rarely consider the full context of the situation when we ask ourselves what we would like to eat tonight.
"Should we eat out tonight?" vs. "should we cook tonight?" is usually a decision that is considered in binary. Only after that decision is made is price taken into context. So once you decide to eat out, you probably consider a list of options something like the following:
1) Low-end fast food (McDonalds, Taco Bell) – $7-$8 per person
2) Slightly upscale fast food (Panera, Chipotle) – $10-$12 per person
3) Family restaurant or sit-down chain restaurant (local diner, Applebee’s) – $ 12-$16 per person
4) Upscale ethnic or low-end fine dining restaurant – $16-$20 per person
When you consider this list, eating at a place like Panera Bread seems totally reasonable, right? For about ten bucks each, you can get a reasonably healthy soup and salad or sandwich meal that’s warm and quick and easy. Compared to the other options, it’s fairly cheap too. And you weren’t cooking tonight anyway, right?
Now let’s reconsider this list with a few home-cooked meal options as well:
1) Sandwich, eggs and bacon, or pasta at home – $2-$3 per person
2) Low-end frozen dinner – $3-$4 per person
3) Chicken, stir fry, steak, or other simple protein and vegetable dish at home – $4-$5 per person
4) High-end frozen dinner – $5-$7 per person
5) Low-end fast food (McDonalds, Taco Bell) – $7-$8 per person
6) Pretty much any nice meal you want to make from scratch – $6-$10 per person
7) Slightly upscale fast food (Panera, Chipotle) – $10-$12 per person
8) Family restaurant or sit-down chain restaurant (local diner, Applebee’s) – $ 12-$16 per person
9) Upscale ethnic or low-end fine dining restaurant – $16-$20 per person
Does this make you think twice about how many times you’re going to eat out next week?
Obviously, there are going to be lots of times when you’ll want to go to a restaurant. Going to the supermarket takes time. Cooking takes time. Doing dishes takes time. Until you get good at it, you’re going to make some meals that will taste lousy. You’ll burn others and have to call the pizza man. The point of this column isn’t to demonize restaurants; it’s to teach you the importance of putting things in the proper context.
Next to all of the other restaurant options, Applebee’s seems like an okay deal. When you compare it to all of your dining options however—including those at home—it’s clear just how much you’re paying for the experience. The more information you have about what you’re doing, the easier it is to make the right decisions.
In Magic finance, we usually just consider the price of cards within a very narrow context: a deck, a set, or even a format. This is usually enough information to figure out whether or not a card is undervalued. Sometimes though it behooves us to look at the bigger picture and examine each card in the context of all Magic cards ever printed. How does Phyrexian Obliterator compare to Badlands and Sea Drake? How many cards are worth more than $100? How many are worth more than $20? Which cards stand out like a sore thumb next to the cards that share a price with it?
This week I dug deep into the StarCityGames.com website and created a list organized by price of every card that costs more than $9.99 to buy. There are 307 of them. Every other card in the game can be purchased for under $10 right here on this site. I’m going to present the list here with a few comments on each tier. This is an active article though—you’ll get the most out of it if you use the list to reach your own conclusions about how Magic finance works on the highest end.
Before we begin, here are a couple of rules I used when making the list:
No "better versions" of cards. That means no Alpha power, no Beta Berserk, no Unlimited dual lands, and certainly no foils. I always used the cheapest version of each card. This isn’t a true price guide, and I want to focus on the desirability of the actual card, not a specific edition. If you’re buying a card for a deck, any version will do. This list is simply about tracking each unique card in Magic. In some cases, a promotional copy is the cheapest version available.
I used Italian Legends and Chinese Portal: Three Kingdoms prices for those two sets. Both of these sets had much wider releases in non-English versions. Because of that, foreign copies are worth significantly less than the English ones—sometimes by as much as 60 or 70 percent. Again, I’m looking for the cheapest reasonable tournament playable NM copy of each card.
No misprints, promos, or oddities. This list isn’t about cards like Gifts Given, Splendid Genesis, test print City of Traitors, Arabian Nights Mountain, or even Unglued cards. The only non-tournament card on this list at all is Chaos Orb because it was released in an expansion that was tournament legal at the time. Again, this isn’t a collectors’ checklist or price guide.
All prices are SCG NM retail as of 12/16/13. Unfortunately, some cards were sold out when I made this guide and may be restocked at a higher price. Other cards might have jumped between when this was written and when you’ll read it. This is unavoidable.
Sound good? Let’s start at the top with the card we all know is going to be number one:
1) Black Lotus – Unlimited
One day Wizards of the Coast will stop making Magic: The Gathering cards. The game will die. Even if this coincides with the actual apocalypse, zombies pillaging the wastes will know the name Black Lotus. This is Magic’s Action Comics #1 and Honus Wagner rookie card rolled into one.
2) Ancestral Recall – Unlimited
3) Mox Sapphire – Unlimited
4) Time Walk – Unlimited
Historically, blue has been the most powerful color. Its reign started at the very beginning with a pair of cards released in Magic’s very first set that are still the most iconic spells in the history of the game. The "best" Mox is also here mostly because it can cast the other two spells in this tier.
5) Mox Jet – Unlimited
Blue and black together form the control deck that has historically been the most powerful. In recent years white has arguably taken on black’s role as blue’s Gal Friday, but for now this is still the second most expensive Mox, kind of like how Polluted Delta and Underground Sea are the priciest dual lands.
6) Mox Emerald – Unlimited
7) Mox Pearl – Unlimited
8) Mox Ruby – Unlimited
It’s amazing honestly. No one has dethroned the Power Nine—not in twenty years. Even today the Top 8 most valuable cards in Magic are the very same cards that were the Top 8 most valuable cards in 1995. That’s outstanding.
9) Mishra’s Workshop – Antiquities
If you want to play Vintage, you only need one copy of each card above this on the list. If you want to play a Workshop deck, however, you need a playset of this $500 land. That’s why this is so high on the list.
10) Imperial Seal – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
11) Timetwister – Unlimited
This tier is markedly less powerful, but these cards will still inspire awe if you have them in your binder. Imperial Seal is our first Portal: Three Kingdoms card, and as you’ll come to see, they are valuable mostly due to how few of them are in circulation. Imperial Seal isn’t even a must-own in Vintage, and I expect a judge foil will lower the price for this by about 300% in 2014 or 2015. Similarly, Timetwister is the most maligned piece of the Power Nine. It’s still backbreaking in the right circumstances, but it’s significantly worse than the spells and Moxen ahead of it.
12) Bazaar of Baghdad – Arabian Nights
13) Candelabra of Tawnos – Antiquities
14) The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale – Legends (Italian)
15) Time Vault – Unlimited
The $300 tier gives us two Vintage cornerstones as well as the two Legacy cards most likely to be banned due to availability issues. Both Candelabra and Tabernacle are integral to each of their respective decks, and neither can be reprinted thanks to the reserved list. If either becomes a tier 1 strategy, it will be a huge problem for Wizards.
16) Library of Alexandria – Arabian Nights
17) Moat – Legends (Italian)
This is the last big-ticket Vintage card alongside one of the heaviest hitters in Legacy. In order to be this high on the list, you would think that a card needs to be both in demand and incredibly scarce. Both of these cards fit the bill.
18) Capture of Jingzhou – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
19) Grim Tutor – Starter 1999
20) Juzam Djinn – Arabian Nights
21) Underground Sea – Revised
Would any of you have guessed that Juzam Djinn would still be one of the twenty most valuable cards in the game of Magic? It is. See, back when creatures weren’t so good, Juzam Djinn was the biggest thing you could ever hope to slam on the board for just four mana. As such, he became an iconic part of the game alongside Black Lotus and the Moxen. Today he doesn’t even make the cut in most Cubes, and nearly functional reprint Plague Sliver is a $0.50 bulk rare. Sometimes scarcity and legend is all you need.
Grim Tutor, much like Imperial Seal, is another card limited entirely by supply. Demand is scarce, and there are many better cards further down this list. I wouldn’t be shocked to get a reprint of this one too. Capture of Jingzhou is equally useless from nearly every perspective other than rarity—it’s a functional reprint of Time Warp, an $8 card. When there are so few copies available in the entire world, however, the price goes way up.
The last card on this list, Underground Sea, is the first four-of Legacy card we’ve seen. It’s worth $50 more than the next priciest dual land. This isn’t because it sees more play—it’s because Underground Sea has always been the most expensive one. That’s how these things work sometimes.
22) Chains of Mephistopheles – Legends (Italian)
23) Gaea’s Cradle – Urza’s Saga
24) Ravages of War – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
25) Rolling Earthquake – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
26) Volcanic Island – Revised
Chains of Mephistopheles is fairly new member of the $150 club mostly thanks to seeing some play in Legacy sideboards last spring. It really doesn’t take much to cause cards from this era to rise in price because there are so few of them. Gaea’s Cradle is another recent grower thanks to the changed legend rule and the continued rise of the Elves combo deck. Ravages and Rolling Earthquake are two Portal: Three Kingdoms Cube staples that need to be printed in foil one of these days. Volcanic Island gives us our second-most valuable dual land.
27) Tarmogoyf – Modern Masters
This is the most expensive Modern-legal card by quite a bit. Dark Confidant, the second most expensive card in the format, is almost half the cost. Tarmogoyf doesn’t really see enough play right now to justify this price, but it makes up for that with a heaping amount of mystique and aura. Tarmogoyf is an all-time legend, and that counts for a lot.
29) Nether Void – Legends (Italian)
30) Tundra – Revised
31) Zodiac Dragon – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
Here’s our third blue dual and perhaps the most undervalued. Why does Tundra only cost 65% as much as Underground Sea? We may see that price adjust in the future. Zodiac Dragon is on here for collector value only and is still one of the marquee cards in P3K despite being more or less outmoded by newer creatures. Nether Void is a sideboard option in Legacy, while Imperial Recruiter is a staple in the format. Considering how few P3K copies of this are out there, I could see this one trending upward.
32) Gauntlet of Might – Unlimited
33) The Abyss – Legends (Italian)
Here are two more cards from the early days of Magic that don’t inspire quite as much awe anymore. Let me tell you, having either of these in your deck in 1998 would have caused half the store to crowd around your game.
34) Bayou – Revised
35) Diamond Valley – Arabian Nights
36) Mana Drain – Legends (Italian)
37) Tropical Island – Revised
Down at the $120 tier we get our last blue dual along with our first nonblue one. Mana Drain, a Cube and Vintage card that has been steady in the $100 range for years, is also here. If this was a reserved list card, I’d warn you about a possible buyout and jump to $200, but Wizards will likely reprint this in a future From the Vault set—perhaps as soon as 2014.
38) Forcefield – Unlimited
39) Jace, the Mind Sculptor – From the Vault: Twenty
40) Polluted Delta – Onslaught
It’s kind of cool that there are only 40 cards in Magic that sell for $100 or more and most of them are not needed for tournament play. Regardless, this tier brings us the most iconic card of the past decade as well as our first fetch land. There are more copies of Jace out there and he’s used in fewer decks than Delta is, but he’s the face of the game, which counts for quite a bit.
41) Savannah – Revised
42) Scrubland – Revised
Would people in 2005 have believed that a fetch land would sell for more than half of the dual lands by 2013? Savannah is down a bit from the height of Maverick, while the Orzhov color combination hasn’t caught on as much in today’s Legacy, which is why these two have settled in below the $100 mark.
43) Badlands – Revised
44) Chaos Orb – Unlimited
45) Dark Confidant – Ravnica: City of Guilds
46) Flooded Strand – Onslaught
47) Force of Will – Alliances
48) Illusionary Mask – Unlimited
49) Karakas – Legends (Italian)
50) Lion’s Eye Diamond – Mirage
51) Show and Tell – Urza’s Saga
52) Taiga – Revised
The $80 tier feels like a hard cap for many of Legacy’s key format staples. We’ve got two duals, Bob, Force of Will, Flooded Strand, Karakas, and a couple of Legacy’s most important combo pieces and enablers. Chaos Orb and Illusionary Mask feel a little misplaced on this list, but the Orb is unique and iconic while the Mask is a combo piece from years past. I wouldn’t be shocked if one of these cards, maybe Karakas or Lion’s Eye Diamond, makes another jump to a higher tier before long.
53) Rishadan Port – Mercadian Masques
This one is out of stock at $75, and I expect it’ll be joining its friends at $80 sooner rather than later.
54) Temporal Manipulation – Portal: Second Age
55) Wasteland – Tempest
Why are these alternate Time Warps so popular? They’re not even all that good in Cube or Commander. Wasteland has been threatening to move higher than $70 for a while, and it’ll probably move up to $80 alongside Force of Will at some point in the new year.
56) Berserk – Unlimited
57) City of Traitors – Exodus
58) Eureka – Legends (Italian)
59) Transmute Artifact – Antiquities
We haven’t seen much of the U/B Transmute Artifact deck in Legacy since last spring, but that card could climb even higher if the deck makes a comeback—see all of the other pricey Legends cards higher on this list that aren’t half as good. Eureka is a solid Cube card, but it doesn’t have many tournament applications. There are far more copies of City of Traitors out there than either of those two cards, but it’s much more crucial to the success of different decks in Legacy. Berserk is still somewhat of a fringe player in the format, but it’s important in Infect.
60) Misty Rainforest – Zendikar
61) Scalding Tarn – Zendikar
These are the two most important cards in the entirety of Modern. They are also the largest barrier of entry to the format right now. These are now more expensive than three-fifths of the Onslaught fetch lands and one of the Revised duals. Reprint them now, Wizards.
62) Ali from Cairo – Arabian Nights
63) Bloodstained Mire – Onslaught
64) Goblin Settler – Starter 1999
65) Guardian Beast – Arabian Nights
66) Island of Wak-Wak – Arabian Nights
67) Liliana of the Veil – Innistrad
68) Plateau – Revised
69) Riding the Dilu Horse – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
70) Shahrazad – Arabian Nights
71) Sliver Queen – Stronghold
72) True-Name Nemesis – Commander 2013
73) Windswept Heath – Onslaught
74) Wooded Foothills – Onslaught
75) Word of Command – Unlimited
The $50 mark contains a motley crew of cards. It also contains the first card on this list that I had straight up never heard of before: Riding the Dilu Horse. Seriously, I write about Magic finance every week and have for years, but I had never heard of one of the 75 most valuable cards in the game. At any rate, Riding the Dilu Horse costs $50 because it’s the only mono-green spell that makes a creature unblockable. I’d rather put a Rogue’s Passage in my Commander deck, of course, but that’s just me.
Goblin Settler is another weird one that shows just how much price inertia and actual scarcity matters. I guess people run him in Goblin-based Commander decks because he can be tutored up or Vialed out to destroy a land, but that’s a pretty narrow purpose for such a pricey card. He does not seem to be worthy company on a tier that also contains Liliana, the last three Onslaught fetch lands, and the tenth Revised dual land.
Speaking of Liliana, she seems like the card on this list most likely do make the leap into Tarmogoyf country, doesn’t she?
I wonder if Travis Woo’s latest deck will cause the price of this card to rise a little. It sure worked for Disrupting Shoal.
77) Angus Mackenzie – Legends (Italian)
78) Arid Mesa – Zendikar
79) Drop of Honey – Arabian Nights
80) Intuition – Tempest
81) Jihad – Arabian Nights
82) Kozilek, Butcher of Truth – Rise of the Eldrazi
83) Lich – Unlimited
84) Loyal Retainers – Commander’s Arsenal
87) Old Man of the Sea – Arabian Nights
88) Serra’s Sanctum – Urza’s Saga
89) Sneak Attack – Urza’s Saga
90) Verdant Catacombs – Zendikar
Continuing on, we come to a tier with several more key cards in both Modern and Legacy alongside a few more super scarce cards from the very first days of Magic. With Affinity doing so well, it seems like Mox Opal might even be undervalued at $40. Kozilek looks a little out of place on this list too until you remember just how beloved the Eldrazi are in casual circles.
91) Burning of Xinye – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
92) Marsh Flats – Zendikar
93) Mox Diamond – Stronghold
95) Sinkhole – Unlimited
There are no more fetch lands after this—$35 is the cheapest they come in 2013. Burning of Xinye feels underpriced here though. It’s the P3K version of Wildfire, which is an actual Cube card. Why is this almost six times cheaper than the P3K version of Time Warp, a card that isn’t playable in Cube?
96) Voice of Resurgence – Dragon’s Maze
At long last we come to our first Standard card. Funnily enough, it’s not even a card that’s all that good in Standard right now. This shows just how low Standard prices are at the moment despite it being the current PTQ format.
This sort of price lull is pretty common for this part of winter, but December didn’t used to be Standard season. If prices don’t rebound a ton in the New Year, we may have a new trend on our hands.
97) Chord of Calling – Ravnica: City of Guilds
99) Cyclopean Tomb – Unlimited
101) Dark Depths – Coldsnap
102) Elephant Graveyard – Arabian Nights
103) Emrakul, the Aeons Torn – Rise of the Eldrazi (Prerelease Foil)
104) Exploration – Urza’s Saga
105) Fulminator Mage – Shadowmoor
106) Goblin Piledriver – Onslaught
108) Karn Liberated – New Phyrexia
109) Linvala, Keeper of Silence – Rise of the Eldrazi
110) Mutavault – Magic 2014
111) Rasputin Dreamweaver – Legends (Italian)
112) Singing Tree – Arabian Nights
114) Stifle – Scourge
115) Survival of the Fittest – Exodus
116) Sword of Fire and Ice – Darksteel
117) Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre – Rise of the Eldrazi
118) Umezawa’s Jitte – Betrayers of Kamigawa
120) Warrior’s Oath – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
121) Zhang Fei, Fierce Warrior – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
The tiers all get bigger—much bigger—the further down the list we go. At $30 we find just one more Standard card, Mutavault, along with a bunch of Legacy and Modern staples. The last two Eldrazi are here too. I wouldn’t be shocked if Umezawa’s Jitte and Karn Liberated are the next on this tier to make a jump—both are seeing more and more play in their respective formats.
122) Hazezon Tamar – Legends (Italian)
This guy is a popular Naya Commander, almost Prossh like. The English version is worth quite a bit more due to rarity and because people like their confusing generals to be readable.
123) Adun Oakenshield – Legends (Italian)
124) Burning Wish – Judgment
125) Cruel Tutor – Portal
126) Garruk, Caller of Beasts – Magic 2014
127) Glimpse of Nature – Champions of Kamigawa
128) Glimpse the Unthinkable – Ravnica: City of Guilds
129) Grim Monolith – Urza’s Legacy
130) Grove of the Burnwillows – From the Vault: Realms
131) Invoke Prejudice – Legends (Italian)
132) Khabal Ghoul – Arabian Nights
133) Maze of Ith – From the Vault: Realms
134) Misdirection – Mercadian Masques
136) Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary – Urza’s Destiny
137) Serendib Djinn – Arabian Nights
138) Sphinx’s Revelation – Return to Ravnica
139) Sword of Light and Shadow – Darksteel
140) Sylvan Tutor – Portal
141) Tawnos’s Coffin – Antiquities
142) Tolarian Academy – Urza’s Saga
143) Vampiric Tutor – Sixth Edition
144) Volrath’s Stronghold – Stronghold
We’re already down to $25, and we’ve only come across two more Standard-legal cards. Remember that next time you "just gotta" preorder the latest and greatest planeswalker. Most of the cards on this list are fringe or support cards in Legacy and Modern as well as a bunch of older Commander staples. Look for the two cards on here from From the Vault: Realms—Grove of the Burnwillows and Maze of Ith—to creep up in price as that set recedes into the past.
145) Cryptic Command – Modern Masters
146) Domri Rade – Gatecrash
This seems kind of low for Cryptic Command, but Modern Masters did a great job depressing prices across the board for everything except Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant. If the card starts showing up more in the format, expect it to rise back toward $30 fairly quickly.
147) Academy Rector – Urza’s Saga
148) Argivian Archaeologist – Antiquities
150) Cascade Bluffs – Eventide
151) Chrome Mox – Mirrodin
153) Earthcraft – Tempest
154) Elspeth, Sun’s Champion – Theros
155) Entomb – Premium Decks: Graveborn
156) Fetid Heath – Eventide
157) Gilded Drake – Urza’s Saga
158) Grindstone – Tempest
159) Ifh-Biff Efreet – Arabian Nights
160) In the Eye of Chaos – Legends (Italian)
161) Iona, Shield of Emeria – Zendikar
162) Jace, Architect of Thought – Return to Ravnica
163) Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker – Champions of Kamigawa
164) Lady Zhurong, Warrior Queen – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
165) Land Tax – Fourth Edition
166) Living Plane – Legends (Italian
167) Marshaling the Troops – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
168) Norwood Priestess – Portal: Second Age
169) Personal Tutor – Portal
170) Phyrexian Obliterator – New Phyrexia
171) Power Artifact – Antiquities
172) Ring of Ma’ruf – Arabian Nights
173) Scroll Rack – Tempest
174) Sensei’s Divining Top – Champions of Kamigawa
175) Shardless Agent – Planechase
176) Snapcaster Mage – Innistrad
178) Time Spiral – Urza’s Saga
179) Twilight Mire – Eventide
181) Wheel of Fortune – Revised
182) Wolf Pack – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
$20 seems to be the tier for a bunch of also-ran cards that are very powerful but aren’t at the center of a tier 1 deck right now thanks to metagame or banned list reasons: Scroll Rack, Grindstone, Entomb, Earthcraft, Chrome Mox, Personal Tutor, and Time Spiral. There are also a couple of Modern cornerstones here like Kiki-Jiki and Daybreak Coronet. Phyrexian Obliterator is the most likely card on this tier to rise obviously, but Snapcaster, Shardless Agent, and Sword of Feast and Famine are all kind of intriguing over the next few months.
183) Blood Baron of Vizkopa – Dragon’s Maze
184) Brimstone Dragon – Portal: Second Age
185) Chandra, Pyromaster – Magic 2014
186) Flooded Grove – Eventide
187) Geist of Saint Traft – Innistrad
188) Humility – Tempest
189) Meng Huo, Barbarian King – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
190) Stormbreath Dragon – Theros
191) Sylvan Library – Fifth Edition
192) Thoughtseize – Theros
As we dip below $20, we’re finally getting to more Standard staples. Thoughtseize will go up in price again, but it’ll never again be as high as it was before. Being a rare in a fall set these days should keep the price under $25 for years to come. Gest, Chandra, and Stormbreath Dragon have more promise for short-term gain, but right now none of those three is seeing enough play to justify a higher price tag.
193) Argothian Enchantress – Urza’s Saga
194) Elspeth, Knight-Errant – Duel Decks: Elspeth vs. Tezzeret
195) Phyrexian Dreadnought – Mirage
196) Tetsuo Umezawa – Legends (Italian)
197) Wilt-Leaf Liege – Shadowmoor
Argothian Enchantress seems like it could skyrocket if either of the next two Theros block sets bring it an exciting new friend for it. It’s a very powerful reserved list rare from a large older set that just needs a home. Phyrexian Dreadnaught was a card that used to be incredibly powerful in Legacy, but the format seems to have moved on.
198) Aether Vial – Darksteel
199) All Hallow’s Eve – Legends (Italian)
201) Archangel of Thune – Magic 2014
203) Avacyn, Angel of Hope – Avacyn Restored
204) Baneslayer Angel – Magic 2011
205) Batterskull – New Phyrexia
206) Bribery – Eighth Edition
207) City In A Bottle – Arabian Nights
208) Deathbringer Liege – Eventide
209) Demonic Tutor – Revised
210) Dong Zhou, the Tyrant – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
211) Doubling Season – Modern Masters
212) Dream Halls – Stronghold
213) Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite – New Phyrexia
214) Enlightened Tutor – Mirage
215) Genesis – Judgment
216) Goryo’s Vengeance – Champions of Kamigawa
217) Griselbrand – Avacyn Restored
218) Gwendlyn Di Corci – Legends (Italian)
219) Ice Storm – Unlimited
220) Kalonian Hydra – Magic 2014
221) Land Equilibrium – Legends (Italian)
222) Leyline of Sanctity – Magic 2011
223) Mana Reflection – Shadowmoor
224) Marrow-Gnawer – Champions of Kamigawa
225) Metalworker – Urza’s Destiny
226) Mirri’s Guile – Tempest
227) Mirror Universe – Legends (Italian)
228) Nirkana Revenant – Rise of the Eldrazi
229) Orim’s Chant – Planeshift
230) Phyrexian Tower – Urza’s Saga
231) Pyramids – Arabian Nights
232) Raging River – Unlimited
233) Ravaging Horde – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
234) Regal Force – Eventide
235) Remand – Ravnica: City of Guilds
236) Rhys the Redeemed – Shadowmoor
237) Sea Drake – Portal: Second Age
238) Shallow Grave – Mirage
239) Sun Ce, Young Conquerer – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
240) Sunken Ruins – Shadowmoor
241) Sword of War and Peace – New Phyrexia
243) Thassa, God of the Sea – Theros
244) Three Visits – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
245) Toxic Deluge – Commander 2013
246) Vengevine – Rise of the Eldrazi
248) Yawgmoth’s Will – Urza’s Saga
It’s hard to make too many judgments this far down the list, but it’s interesting to think about theoretical trades using cards that are all worth the same amount of money. Would you give up a Griselbrand for an Orim’s Chant? Would you rather have Archangel of Thune or Remand? These are the types of exercises that help us learn which cards are truly undervalued.
The biggest surprise on this list to me? Mirror Universe. When I was in high school, this was by far the coolest card in Legends and one of the most expensive. Today it shares a tier with Land Equilibrium.
249) Arcbound Ravager – Modern Masters
250) Boros Reckoner – Gatecrash
251) Celestial Colonnade – Worldwake
252) Cruel Bargain – Portal
253) Deathrite Shaman – Return to Ravnica
254) Hero’s Downfall – Theros
255) Hunting Cheetah – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
256) Mystic Gate – Shadowmoor
257) Recurring Nightmare – Exodus
258) Replenish – Urza’s Destiny
259) Sen Triplets – Alara Reborn
260) Stoneforge Mystic – Worldwake
261) Two-Headed Giant of Foriys – Unlimited
One of the interesting things about the smaller tiers in between larger ones is that they tend to contain cards in heavier demand. Sea Drake can sit at the $15 plateau because very few people want it so it’s less important to keep the price competitive. Something like Boros Reckoner or Deathrite Shaman needs to be competitive within the dollar because these are the cards that stores make most of their money from.
At any rate, Stoneforge Mystic feels particularly undervalued at just $13, especially after seeing where many other Legacy format cornerstones have ended up. It’s an all-star in Commander too.
263) Azusa, Lost but Seeking – Champions of Kamigawa
264) Baleful Strix – Commander 2013
267) Cavern of Souls – Avacyn Restored
268) Chain Lightning – Legends (Italian)
269) Creakwood Liege – Eventide
270) Death Baron – Shards of Alara
271) Defense of the Heart – Urza’s Legacy
273) Energy Field – Urza’s Saga
274) Ensnaring Bridge – Stronghold
275) Erayo, Soratami Ascendant – Saviors of Kamigawa
276) Gamble – Urza’s Saga
278) Goblin Lackey – Urza’s Saga
279) Greater Auramancy – Shadowmoor
280) Helm of Obedience – Alliances
281) Infernal Tutor – Dissension
282) Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund – Alara Reborn
283) Lord of Extinction – Alara Reborn
284) Lu Meng, Wu General – Portal: Three Kingdoms (Chinese)
286) Master of the Wild Hunt – Magic 2010
287) Master of Waves – Theros
288) Mirari’s Wake – Judgment
290) Mycosynth Lattice – Darksteel
291) Phyrexian Altar – Invasion
292) Privileged Position – Ravnica: City of Guilds
293) Reflecting Pool – Shadowmoor
294) Rugged Prairie – Eventide
295) Sacred Foundry – Gatecrash
296) Sapphire Medallion – Tempest
297) Sarkhan Vol – Modern Masters
298) Spellskite – New Phyrexia
300) Toxin Sliver – Legions
301) Treachery – Urza’s Destiny
302) Unexpectedly Absent – Commander 2013
303) Vedalken Shackles – Modern Masters
305) Vigor – Lorwyn
306) Virtue’s Ruin – Portal
307) Zur the Enchanter – Coldsnap
The $12 level will be our final stop. At this point, cards from every format are represented in every tier. The majority of these cards though are older Commander staples that have slowly gained value over the years. $10-$12 seems to be where many of these cards have settled in—expensive enough to be significant trade pieces but cheap enough to reflect the fact that there’s always an alternative available in Commander.
That’s it! Unless I missed a couple of cards—and let’s be honest, I probably did—all other cards can be had for $10 or less. Which cards shocked you most with how expensive they are? Which cards do you think are undervalued compared to the other spells that they share a price range with? Hit me up in the comments!
Until next week –
– Chas Andres