All About Context

Magic finance guru Chas Andres digs deep into the StarCityGames.com website and creates a list organized by price of every card that costs more than $9.99 to buy. Check it out!

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.


28) Imperial Recruiter – Judge Foil

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?   


76) Vendilion CliqueMorningtide

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

85) Mox OpalScars of Mirrodin

86) Natural OrderVisions

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

94) Noble HierarchConflux

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

98) Crucible of Worlds – Fifth Dawn

99) Cyclopean Tomb – Unlimited

100) DamnationPlanar Chaos

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

107) Horizon CanopyFuture Sight

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

113) Sliver LegionFuture Sight

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

119) VindicateApocalypse

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

135) Pernicious DeedApocalypse

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

149) BitterblossomMorningtide

150) Cascade Bluffs – Eventide

151) Chrome Mox – Mirrodin

152) Daybreak CoronetFuture Sight

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

177) Sword of Feast and FamineMirrodin Besieged

178) Time Spiral – Urza’s Saga

179) Twilight Mire – Eventide

180) Urborg, Tomb of YawgmothPlanar Chaos

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)

200) All Is Dust – Grand Prix Foil

201) Archangel of Thune – Magic 2014

202) Auriok Champion – Fifth Dawn

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

242) Tezzeret, Agent of BolasMirrodin Besieged

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

247) Wurmcoil EngineScars of Mirrodin

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.


262) Aven MindcensorFuture Sight

263) Azusa, Lost but Seeking – Champions of Kamigawa

264) Baleful Strix – Commander 2013

265) Blightsteel ColossusMirrodin Besieged

266) Cabal CoffersTorment

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

272) Elspeth TirelScars of Mirrodin

273) Energy Field – Urza’s Saga

274) Ensnaring Bridge – Stronghold

275) Erayo, Soratami Ascendant – Saviors of Kamigawa

276) Gamble – Urza’s Saga

277) Gauntlet of PowerTime Spiral

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)

285) Maelstrom ArchangelConflux

286) Master of the Wild Hunt – Magic 2010

287) Master of Waves – Theros

288) Mirari’s Wake – Judgment

289) Mycosynth GolemFuture Sight

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

299) Staff of Domination – Fifth Dawn

300) Toxin Sliver – Legions

301) Treachery – Urza’s Destiny

302) Unexpectedly Absent – Commander 2013

303) Vedalken Shackles – Modern Masters

304) Venser, Shaper SavantFuture Sight

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