Battlebond, AKA Commander Masters, Financial Review!

This set is exploding with value! Is this the future of reprint markets? Chas Andres does an excellent exploration of the hit new supplemental Magic product here!

I did not expect Battlebond to be a particularly relevant set from
a financial perspective.

I was wrong.

Oh, sure, I figured that Battlebond would have a couple of neat
multiplayer cards and a couple of interesting reprints, but the set is so
much more than that. Battlebond is a veritable wish list of casual
cards that were in dire need of a reprint, and it’s clear that WotC took
the secondary market into consideration when they designed the set. They
wanted established casual players to be in awe as they perused Battlebond‘s full visual spoiler, and they succeeded beyond my
wildest expectations.

In retrospect, I probably should have at least considered that this might
happen. Two-Headed Giant was always kind of a weak premise to hang a set
on: the format has fans, yes, but it’s far more niche than, say, Commander.
By loading up Battlebond with desirable Commander reprints, WotC
has given the folks who might have been lukewarm about the set’s premise an
incentive to play in the release event and maybe buy a booster box or two.
If they end up falling in love with the rest of the set, great. If not,
well, then at least they helped boost the set’s sales figures.

To me, this is the epitome of WotC using reprints the right way. Unlike the
Masters sets, which have more or less turned into frustrating and
flavorless cash grabs, Battlebond uses our desire to open Doubling
Season as a way to help sell the community on something exciting and new.

Oh-and Battlebond has a per-pack MSRP of $4, not $10. What’s not
to love?

I mean, I suppose Battlebond is kind of a dagger for anyone with a
large speculation box filled with random Commander staples that had climbed
into the $10-$20 range based almost entirely on the fact that they haven’t
been printed in a very long time. The set is filled with cards like that,
and many of them will be losing 70-80% of their value-always a tough pill
to swallow. The good news here is that you had years to cash out on most of
these cards, so there likely weren’t a ton of people holding onto dozens of
copies of Tidespout Tyrant.

In terms of greater trends, I don’t think that Battlebond is a sea
change that casual speculators suddenly need to worry about, though. For
one, all of these cards should have been on your radar as potential
inclusions in a future Masters set. For another, WotC’s actions here aren’t
that much different than what they did for either of the first two Conspiracy sets. Battlebond has more relevant reprints,
true, but not by enough that I’m ready to declare all casual speculation
from here on out to be any riskier than it already was. You’re always at
risk to get blown out by a Masters set, Commander pre-con, or yearly casual
set reprinting. Battlebond is above-average in this regard, but
it’s not a crazy outlier.

Now that we’ve answered that, let’s talk about how far these reprints are
likely to drop and which of the set’s new cards have the greatest chance at
becoming expensive casual all-stars. I’d like to begin by looking at the
reprints, rarity by rarity:

Mythic Rare Reprints

I want to begin this section by reiterating something that I want you to
keep in mind throughout this article: Battlebond may look like a
Masters set, but it is absolutely not a Masters set. Battlebond packs are $4, not $10
. StarCityGames is selling booster boxes for $100, which is $2.78 per pack.
Chances are, you’ll be able to find these closer to $80 at some point if
you’re willing to be patient.

This means that Masters set answers for “how low can this card go?” do not
apply here. Doubling Season survived a reprint in the original Modern Masters and ended up climbing even higher after that,
leading some to believe that the card will stay at or above $50 this time
as well. But the original Modern Masters was a very low supply
set, and packs were hard to find below the $10 mark. There will be many,
many, many more copies of Doubling Season printed in Battlebond. The card is going to drop in price.

A better comp for Battlebond is something like Conspiracy: Take the Crown, where Show and Tell plummeted from $80
to its current retail price of $18. While I expect Doubling Season to stay
higher than that-despite its prowess in Legacy, Doubling Season is by far
the better and more desirable casual card-a $25 price tag seems more likely
to me than a $50 one.

So why is Doubling Season still $50 right now? Because it was scarce enough
for long enough that you needed to pay at least $70 for a copy up until
last week. For some players, then, $50 is enough of a “discount” that
they’re finally willing to buy in.

But this is just a less extreme version of the logic that caused Imperial
Recruiter to begin pre-ordering at roughly half the price it’s at now.
Every reprint is at least somewhat anchored to its old price, which is
always at least somewhat anchored to a far lower supply. Thus, they will
almost always be poor pre-orders-even at whatever immediate “discount”
comes attached to them. The only real exception is when a card gains new
legality (Standard or Modern) with its reprint, thus creating a surge of
new demand that counteracts the surge in increased supply. Since Battlebond isn’t legal in Standard or Modern, we can ignore that

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any cards in Battlebond worth
pre-ordering, just that none of those cards are likely to be reprints. I’ll
get to some of my favorites a little bit later in this article.

It also doesn’t mean that there aren’t any reprints worth buying once they
hit their summer lulls: consider Exploration and Vedalken Orrery from Conspiracy, two casual reprints that have gone up about 500% since
that set was last in print. If Doubling Season does hit $20, for example,
it becomes a strong buy.

So which of these five cards are likely to be the best long-term buys and
holds? At the risk of spending too much time on a single card, Doubling
Season is the sort of card that’s hard to reprint and is always in demand.
I’ll be very interested in grabbing copies once the price comes down. I
don’t hate True-Name Nemesis, either; the card is absurd in Commander,
Legacy, and Cube, though it’ll be hard for that one to spike above $30 now.
Nirkana Revenant will probably be $15 again at some point, though it could
take a while. Land Tax and Mycosynth Lattice have more supply-side issues
and have a harder road toward regaining their former glory.

Rare Reprints

The fact that Seedborn Muse and Diabolic Intent are so close in price right
now is exactly why it’s important to be careful about which reprinted cards
you choose to pre-order.

Their respective values make sense when you compare them to their prices
before Battlebond previews began: Seedborn Muse was about $30 and
Diabolic Intent was about $25. So far, so good, right? Not so fast. See,
Diabolic Intent was only printed once, in a very small and very old set. It
was only $25 because a couple of lower tier Legacy decks used it, which
means that real-world demand was quite low. Diabolic Intent is neither
Modern legal nor particularly good in most casual formats. Once demand
reaches a saturation point, it’s going to drop-hard.

Seedborn Muse, on the other hand, was printed three times. Not in recent
history, granted, but there are at least three times as many copies out
there and probably closer to five or six times as many copies considering
when each set was released. The card isn’t played in any competitive
format, but it’s about as close to a casual staple as it gets. In fact, the
only reason it isn’t played more in Commander is that it was a $30 card
until just a few days ago. As the price lowers, demand is going to increase
until it reaches equilibrium. That price should be a lot higher than
wherever Diabolic Intent settles in at. In fact, I doubt Seedborn Muse is
dropping below $10. I bet Diabolic Intent will be a $3 card by August.

To that end, Greater Good also seems like a really solid bet to bounce back
fairly quickly. I’m a little less certain about Vigor, though the card is
so good that it can probably maintain at least most of its current price.
Mystic Confluence hasn’t really been given enough of a discount over its Commander 2015 price for me to get excited yet, but it’s good
enough in casual play that I expect it won’t end up dropping past $5. Kor
Spiritdancer is good enough in Modern that I bet it’ll end up staying
around $4-$5 as well.

Uncommon Reprints Of Financial Note

Bah. I had been calling Spell Snare as an under-the-radar buy for a while
now, but it was reprinted before it had a chance to make a bigger impact in
Modern. You can safely ignore the card for now, as it’s not going back up
above $5 anytime soon. Chain Lightning was also just reprinted in Eternal Masters and is probably stuck around $3 for a while as

While I doubt that any of these cards have much upside, they’re also
probably not going to drop any further from where they’re at right now.
Feel free to snag any copies that you might need.

The New Mythic Rares

Since most of these cards only have to be evaluated for potential casual
demand, I’m going to be going a lot faster than most of my in-depth set
reviews. I’ll slow down and spend more time when necessary.

Arena Rector – $29.99

Arena Rector is awesome. It’s going into every Planeswalker-based Commander
deck that can run it. There’s a shot that this card will eventually end up
being good in Legacy or Vintage as well, though I don’t see an immediate
path to that right now. Academy Rector is almost strictly better in those
formats, and even that one is mostly used as a backup plan.

Because of the lack of competitive play, I think $30 is a bit too high.
This is an $18-$20 card over the near future, though it might spike again
in the future if things break right for it. I’ll be looking to pick this
one up in a month or so once the hype dies down.

Bramble Sovereign – $14.99

$15 is exactly right for Bramble Sovereign, a card that every casual green
mage is going to want at least one copy of. I don’t see how this one drops
much, if at all, from its current price-demand is going to remain constant,
and it’s not like this one is even a reprint. Granted, Bramble Sovereign is
already a $15 card with no competitive prospects, which doesn’t exactly
scream “speculate on me!” It’s a very solid buy at current retail for
anyone who needs a copy, and it certainly has the look of a card that could
end up being $25+ in a year or two-think Selvala, Heart of the Wilds.

Rowan Kenrith & Will Kenrith – $14.99

The flavor on these two is absolutely delightful, and there will be a bunch
of people who are going to want to build around them simply because having
two partner Planeswalkers as your commander is awesome. Unfortunately, I
don’t think that Rowan and Will Kenrith are actually all that good. I can
see them settling in around $6-$8 simply due to how unique they are, but I
can’t imagine they spike to $20+ or ever see any competitive play.

Arcane Artisan – $7.99

Cute, and a good source of card advantage, but the fact that you can take
care of the problem by killing an 0/3 means that this won’t make the cut in
most of my more competitive causal Simic brews. This one will probably end
up closer to $2 than $8.

Stunning Reversal – $7.99

This is another one of those cards that I rarely seem to have room for in
any of my Commander decks, though I’d consider running it if I tried to
build some kind of weird Storm thing. I briefly wondered if it might be
good enough for Vintage or Legacy, but I can’t find any chatter about the
card in either of those communities at the moment. I remain a little
intrigued, but not $8 intrigued. There’s too much bulk rare potential here.

Najeela, the Blade-Blossom – $5.99

Najeela is likely to become one of the most popular new commanders in the
set. By combining token generation with five-color overrun shenanigans,
Najeela plays into exactly the sort of nonsense that a certain type of
Commander player loves. Expect foils of this one to get high and stay high
pretty fast. There may also be secondary spikes for other interesting
Warrior cards due to people putting together this deck. This card’s focus
is narrow enough that the non-foil version should remain in the $4-$5
range, though.

Brightling – $5.99

I love the flavor here, but I can’t imagine it becomes too sought-after for
Commander. It doesn’t fit any theme enough or inspire enough creative
deckbuilding-it’s just cool and powerful. The wild-card here is Legacy
playability, where the community seems split on whether it’s actually good
in something like Death & Taxes or even U/W Control. I personally doubt
it, and I expect Brightling to end up as a bulk mythic, but if it does see
play in Legacy it might end up being a $10+ card. Keep an eye on this one,
at least.

Grothama, All-Devouring – $4.99

Grothama isn’t actually good, right? It’s cool as heck, but your opponents
can just throw away their creatures (if they have enough) and each draw a
bunch of cards. A 10/8 for five-mana isn’t good enough to justify that in
most casual formats. Some people are going to run this one as their own
commander to exploit the ability themselves, though, and that should keep
it above bulk status, but not by a ton.

Archfiend of Despair – $2.99

This is the sort of card that I rarely find a home for in my casual decks
because eight is too expensive and it paints a massive target on my back.
Future bulk mythic.

The New Rares

Spellseeker – $11.99

Oh, hey, this is a sweet Magic card! It’s probably not the instant Vintage
staple that some people think-three mana is just a ton, even if you’re
tutoring for Ancestral Recall-but if you can find a way to make this work
as a combo enabler (Flash?) as well as an occasional value play…well, now
you’ve got something going. If you’re going to speculate along these lines,
grab foils.

Even if Spellseeker doesn’t see competitive play, this is going to be
Cyclonic Rift #2 a lot of the time in Commander, and I can see a lot of the
more competitive casual mages taking a shine to this card. It’ll probably
stay above $6 regardless, with room to grow back toward $10 again over the
long haul. It’s not my favorite spec buy at a full $12, but it’s a very
good card and I doubt you’ll be too sad dropping the cash on these soon if
you need them for a deck or seven.

The Rare Land Cycle – $4.99

I feel like people are sleeping on these, but they’re straight-up dual
lands for a certain type of casual Magic player. $5 each is completely
reasonable, and they might end up increasing in value from here depending
on how popular Battlebond ends up being. Regardless, I can’t
imagine these dropping much lower than $5 unless they’re quickly reprinted
a couple of times. Snag ’em now if you need ’em.

Pir, Imaginative Rascal & Toothy, Imaginary Friend – $3.99

Well aren’t these two little rascals absolute darlings? It’s almost always
wrong to dismiss a casual card that messes with counters of any kind, so I
expect Pir and Toothy to remain popular-and in the $5 range-for years to

Archon of Valor’s Reach – $2.99

Archon of Valor’s Reach provides an absurd amount of value for just six
mana. Heck, it’s even a potential Oath of Druids target in Vintage. $3 is
totally reasonable for what you’re getting here, and I’d consider snagging
a couple of foils before the market catches up with the fact that this
might actually see some competitive play.

Last One Standing – $2.99

I worry that Last One Standing is just going to end up keeping the thing I
want to kill most alive 90% of the time I cast this dang thing. Still, a
three-mana sweeper is a three-mana sweeper. $3 seems like market value here
unless you think it’ll see competitive play, which I do not.

Generous Patron – $2.99

Generous Patron is an amazing engine for group hug decks, but it’s useless
almost everywhere else. Settling in the $1-$2 range seems about right.

Bonus Round – $2.99

This is one of the best Fork variants ever printed, and it’ll get slammed
into anything that even somewhat resembles Storm or a red-based combo deck.
It’s a solid buy at $3, and I can’t see it falling much lower.

Pir’s Whim – $2.99

The utility of Pir’s Whim depends on how large your multiplayer tables end
up being. I tend to like my green ramp spells to be a little cheaper,
though the utility is pretty unreal here if you’re regularly playing in
four- or five-player games. Personally, I don’t think that Pir’s Whim is
going to end up being a staple ramp spell in Commander, where it must
compete with the best ramp cards ever printed. If I’m wrong, however, then
this will end up being one of the pricier rares in the set.

Mindblade Render – $2.49

Mindblade Render is awesome in casual decks with even a couple of Warriors,
but I can’t imagine that the number of people building that deck will
outnumber the number of Mindblade Renders that are opened. This one will
likely fall off toward the $1 range. We’re looking for mass demand here,
not niche power.

Game Plan – $1.99

Again, I think that the number of people who actually want to use Game Plan
in their wacky blue contraption will be dwarfed by the number of Game Plans
opened. This one would be straight-up nuts as an instant, but as-is it has
future bulk rare written all over it.

Krav the Unredeemed – $1.99 & Regna, the Redeemer – $1.49

These two are sweet, but just like Rowan and Will, they feel a tad
expensive and underpowered to me. Decks that like sac outlets will be at
least marginally interested in Krav the Unredeemed, but I’m not expecting
these two to revolutionize Commander or anything.

Stolen Strategy – $1.99

Much like with Pir’s Whim, this one is excellent if you’re consistently
playing in 4-5 players games and underwhelming if you’re not. This card
effectively draws you 3-4 cards a turn for five mana if you play a lot of
big multiplayer games, though, so it should have enough fans to keep the
price at or above $2. I’ll probably pick up at least one foil myself.

Virtus’s Maneuver – $1.99

How many Diabolic Edicts do you need to staple to your Raise Dead before
you’d play it in Commander? Two? Three? Four? The correct number does
exist, and this card will see some play. I’m just not sure it’ll be enough
to get Virtus’s Maneuver out of the $2 range.

Virtus the Veiled – $1.99 & Gorm the Great – $1.49

Much like many of the other creatures with partner, I worry that Virtus and
Gorm work best as a duo and not as either a build-around or as part of an
existing popular archetype in Commander. Because of that, I just can’t
imagine there’s going to be a ton of demand here.

Okaun, Eye of Chaos & Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom – $1.49

Now here’s a set of partners that encourages players to build a Commander
deck around them! Foils are already sold out at $12, and that price is just
going to keep rising. Non-foils should stay in the $2 range, but be aware
that we’re probably going to start seeing some coin flip cards spike in
price. (checks charts) What’s that? Krark’s Thumb jumped from $2 to $10
already? Dang. Chance Encounter and Goblin Bomb have spiked as well.

Strangely, Fiery Gambit is still just $3.50. While it’ll probably be bought
out by the time you’re reading this, there’s a chance that it’ll fly under
the radar for another couple of days. Snag copies ASAP
it’s probably the best card in a coin flip deck, and it’ll end up in the
$10-$12 range, too.

Khorvath Brightflame & Sylvia Brightspear – $1.49

And we’re back to the unexciting commanders. Sylvia Brightspear is fine,
but how many Dragon decks actually run white? The $1-$2 range seems correct
to me.

Sentinel Tower – $1.49

Whoa, it’s a win condition for Storm decks! It seems like it’ll probably be
a little slow for Legacy or Vintage, and it’s a bulk rare if it doesn’t pay
off there, but there’s a shot that this ends up being one of the most
valuable foils in the set if it’s good enough. I’m not personally sold, but
I also know a couple of people who have snagged a couple of foil copies
already and I can’t really blame them.

Together Forever – $1.49

This is a decent card for some of the more midrange or controlling
multiplayer tokens decks; it’s not horrible even if you’re just playing it
for the counters, and the fact that you can sometimes save a key creature
makes it legitimately good. Don’t sleep on the fact that foils will be
popular as wedding gifts/wedding favors, too. They’ll likely hold a small
premium because of that added demand-yes, really.

Khorvath’s Fury – $1.49

Wheel of Fortunes are awesome in Commander, and this one will sometimes
randomly kill that one cheeky blue opponent with a Reliquary Tower on the
battlefield. This seems like a solid $2-$3 card for me.

Play of the Game – $1.49

I rather like Play of the Game. Most of the time in Commander if you want
the battlefield wiped, chances are you can find someone else at the table
who has the same desire that you do. Later in the game, when allies are
harder to come by, it’s a lot easier to find the eight mana to cast this
one by yourself. I can easily see this one sticking around in the $3-$4
range long term.

Zndrsplt’s Judgment – $1.49

This card seems a little better when you think of it as a five mana Clone
that bounces a couple of things when it enters the battlefield. I’m still
probably not going to put it in a deck, but it’s not half bad. $1.50 seems

Regna’s Sanction – $0.99

There are better, cheaper falter effects than this one. Bulk rare.

Thrilling Encore – $0.99

Um, why is this card $0.99? Did StarCityGames misprice it? There are a
bunch of copies available for a dollar each, though, so perhaps not. At any
rate, Thrilling Encore feels underpriced to me. I can easily imagine
running this in a black-based deck with a ton of battlefield wipes, or even
just as a way to make my U/W opponents think twice next time. There’s not a
ton of upside here, but $3-$4 seems more reasonable.

Victory Chimes – $0.99

I can imagine running this in a group hug Commander deck, but more often
than not I’ll just run with something that can fix my color issues, too.
Bulk rare.

Final Thoughts

is just about as good as a casual set gets. Doubling Season, True-Name
Nemesis, Land Tax, Arena Rector, and Bramble Sovereign are likely to remain
the chase mythics, while Spellseeker and the five dual lands are solid rare
slot inclusions alongside reprinted casual stalwarts like Seedborn Muse and
Greater Good.

‘s singles are a tad overvalued right now, especially the high-end mythics
and the reprinted cards, but the set’s best foils are likely to go up in
price from here so snag those now if you think you’re going to need them.
Snap up any commons and uncommons you think you’ll need, too. If you want
to pre-order any cards, focus on the lower end rares and mythics,
especially the brand-new cards, that you think are being slept-on right
now. Feel free to pick up the rare lands at $5 as well.

These boxes will likely hold their value pretty well, but $100 is a bit
high for me to recommend buying and cracking packs unless you’ve got a
Draft night scheduled. This set should be printed to order, just like Unstable and Conspiracy: Take the Crown, so there’s no
rush to buy in. Go play in one of your in-store events, have a great time,
and then come back to StarCityGames in 4-6 weeks to pick up a booster box
and/or whatever singles you need once they’ve settled down a bit.

This Week’s Trends

  • The Standard market seems to have peaked and begun its slow summer
    decline. Lyra Dawnbringer, Mox Amber, Gideon of the Trials, History
    of Benalia, and even Karn, Scion of Urza all dropped a little bit
    this week as the weather continues to heat up. Expect this trend to
    continue throughout June and July, though the fact that next week’s
    Pro Tour is Standard should mean that some prices will experience a
    temporary post-PT spike. I’ll be back next week with my coverage of
    the Pro Tour and we’ll talk a little bit more about the immediate
    future of Standard.
  • One Standard card did spike last week, however: Sorcerous Spyglass.
    Due to shifts in the metagame, this is becoming a more important
    main deck inclusion. Expect the price to remain in the $5-$6 range
    unless the card is either a house or a total no-show at Pro Tour Dominaria. The fact that the card sees play in Eternal
    Magic should keep the price from dropping too far, though.

  • Over in Modern, Hall of the Bandit Lord seems like the most
    interesting spike to me. There’s a deck running around out there
    called Devoted Pacts that’s been kicking around on Magic Online for
    about six months and it has started to put up some intriguing
    finishes. It runs four copies of Hall of the Bandit Lord as well as
    Pact of Negation and Summoner’s Pact, three cards that would be in
    line for serious gains if the deck catches on. Hall of the Bandit
    Lord is the best target here, and it could double if the deck
    becomes even a third tier Modern strategy.
  • Like I said earlier, the coin flip partners in Battlebond
    have caused Krark’s Thumb and Chance Encounter to spike pretty
    hard. The other coin flip cards are next: even some of the mediocre
    ones, since a dedicated coin flip deck is going to pack itself with
    as much nonsense as possible. Fiery Gambit is your best bet right
    now but do a gatherer search for “coin + flip” and you’ll probably
    land on 8-10 cards that’ll spike over the next couple of weeks.

  • Also in the land of casual Magic, Thrumming Stone is spiking yet
    again. This is the second time in as many months for Thrumming
    Stone, which tells me that the Rat Colony demand is just as real
    and robust as ever. We’re getting close to the point where it makes
    sense to stock up on foil Rat Colonies, right? Even at $5 each
    retail, these have the potential to double in price over the next
    year or so.