After what feels like an eternity of build-up, Dominaria is
finally legal in Standard. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably
overcome with the urge to go out and snap up playsets of every exciting new
card. And if you have money to spare, that’s fine! Nothing I’ve seen this
weekend has changed my mind about Dominaria: the set is great, and
it’s going to shake up the Standard metagame in all sorts of positive ways.
Since I’m going to spend the lion’s share of this article gushing over my
favorite cards in Dominaria, however, I feel the need to begin by
reminding you that the smart money is still on trading or selling most of
your new cards into the hype cycle. Before you drain your bank account
buying singles, consider the following:
Stable metagames are rarely established this early on in a
This is Magic Finance 101, and I’ll be mentioning it in every “new
set!” article from here to eternity. Don’t forget that it usually
takes a while before all the best interactions are found, and some
powerhouse decks don’t come together for three or four weeks at
least. Heck, The Scarab God basically saw zero play for its first month of Standard legality and the card didn’t
break $20 for twelve full weeks. Also, some of the cards that
appear unstoppable right now might not even see play a week from
now. Jadelight Ranger looked like the best card in Rivals of Ixalan on week one, but green decks were more or
less sidelined for the next couple of months.
We’re about to spend the next two months cracking hundreds of
Consider this metaphor: A group of thirsty people surround an empty
cistern. When its spigot is first turned on, everybody waiting next
to the cistern will be thirsty, but there won’t be enough water to
go around. Over time, however, people will get their fill and walk
away. Meanwhile, the spigot will keep spraying more and more water
into the cistern while fewer and fewer people still need to drink.
This is how Standard demand works, and it’s why I mostly like
investing in mythic rares or multi-deck staples.
is going to be an all-time best-selling set.
I don’t have any hard and fast sales figures to show you,
unfortunately, but the LGS owners on my Twitter feed all seem to
agree that Dominaria packs are flying off shelves at a
level that hasn’t happened in a while. In fact, some are reporting
sales figures twice that of Ixalan. This is great news for
Magic, obviously, but it also means that Dominaria‘s bes t cards aren’t going to exactly be scarce any time soon.
WotC prints to demand, remember, so stores can keep ordering and
selling packs at a record clip. This should keep the set’s prices
down relative to important cards from less popular expansions.
Summer is coming.
Magic prices have historically dipped during the hottest months of
the year, when younger players are out of school and families go on
vacation. With beaches to visit and mountains to climb, spending an
afternoon playing Magic indoors just isn’t as much of a priority
for some folks.
So is the next set rotation.
and Amonkhet blocks are leaving Standard in September. Kaladesh is the most powerful and impactful block in
recent memory, while Amonkhet contains powerhouse cards
like The Scarab God and Hazoret the Fervent. The Standard metagame
is going to look very different in six months, and some
people are going to be reluctant to buy in big until then.
Of course, there are some pretty solid reasons to drop at least some cash on Standard right now:
Standard isn’t going to rotate for
half a year
I’m as value-conscious as anybody, but some folks are far too
conservative when it comes to worrying about future rotational
economics. I’m probably not going to speculate on too many Amonkhet and Kaladesh cards right now, but if you
play Standard-even at the Friday Night Magic level-why worry too
much about what’s happening in late September? Yeah, some of your
cards will lose some value between now and then, but so what?
You’ve got six months of FNM to play between now and then, not to
mention any bigger tournaments. Go get the cards you need and worry
about rotation later.
Week One data is
a lot better
than Week Zero data.
While the #SCGATL Standard metagame isn’t likely to be the same as
the Standard metagame three or four weeks from now, we’ve now seen
a bunch of these cards in actual competitive situations. Sure, you
can wait a few more weeks to make sure that a card is 100% great,
but at that point, you’re basically priced into paying top dollar.
It’s okay to gamble a little based on what we know now.
Looking beneath the results might give us hints about which
cards have the strongest fundamentals.
Remember: linear decks often come out of the gates strong, while
complex decks often take a little longer. If a card looks good in a
bunch of decks that just haven’t been tuned yet, we can probably
assume that the card will find at least one top-tier home.
Be cognizant of cards that might be a buy during the “dip”
between pre-order hype and finding their footing.
Some exciting new cards are simply too expensive to consider buying
right after they’re previewed. If they don’t find a home right
away, however, they can appear to be a bust and drop down to
interesting spec levels before eventually finding a home.
Separating these cards from the actual busts can be difficult, but
you can hit big if you’re right.
Week one gives us a chance to “buy high” on the set’s very best
“Buy low, sell high” is common knowledge, but the real trick to
Magic finance is to figure out when it’s right to buy high. For
example, when Goblin Lore spiked from $1 to $10, it would have been
right to buy high since the card is now worth $40. Buying high is
one of the most difficult things to do since it can backfire so
spectacularly, but it’s one of the most important Magic finance
concepts to master.
And this, conveniently, brings me to the most interesting card of the day:
#1: Karn, Scion of Urza
Even though Karn is my number one winner of the day, it didn’t really move
in price due to the weekend’s tournament results. This makes sense: it’s
already at $45, which is close to the ceiling for a Standard mythic rare,
and it’s clear that the best Karn shell hasn’t been discovered yet. The
Scarab God was only $50 at its peak, and that was when it was seeing play
in four of the format’s five best decks. Realistically, how much higher can
While there’s no way that I’m speculating on any Standard card at
$45, there are plenty of good arguments for buying high on Karn if you play
a lot of Standard.
First, Karn spent the weekend being stuffed into all sorts of interesting
shells. There are B/R Karn decks, U/W Karn decks, Sultai Karn decks…the
powerful planeswalker is everywhere, and it tended to perform well (even in
multiples!) in all sorts of tough situations.
Even better, Karn showed up in both Modern and Legacy. If a Standard card
is going to sustain a $50+ price tag, it’ll need to be a multi-format
staple. Karn hasn’t proven this yet, of course, but this is the sort of
quietly powerful week one I’d expect from a card that eventually got there.
Basically, Karn had everything going for it from the start: cheap to cast,
colorless, card advantage, good in lots of different decks and game states.
Now it’s showing up and performing well. I’ll be shocked if Karn, Scion of
Urza is a bust at this point, and I think it’s okay to snag your set if
you’re going to need them. This looks like a “buy it and forget it” card to
me, similar to something like Noble Hierarch or Liliana of the Veil, if not
quite that good. Karn might drop to $30, it might spike to $70, but you can
snag them now and use them pretty much forever in Standard, Modern, and
#2: Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
super high on Teferi in my set review
, and #SCGATL only served to reinforce my love of this card in the new
Standard format. Back when Teferi was pre-selling for $13, I predicted a
spike to $30-$35 before settling in the $20-$25 range. Well, Teferi is up
to $28 now and rising. If I had to pick a single card to call the “breakout
hit” of #SCGATL, it’s Teferi.
The only thing I might change about my prediction at this point is that I
expect Teferi will stay above $30 for a while. A classic U/W Control deck
seems viable for the first time in a long time, and this is the exact sort
of card that looks like it’ll anchor at least one tier one deck for months
to come. Even more than Karn, Teferi proved its meddle in Standard this
weekend. I was 98% on board before, and I’m 100% on board now.
#3: Lyra Dawnbringer
Hey, it’s Teferi’s partner in crime! The big question surrounding Lyra
Dawnbringer going into the new Standard environment was, “is Baneslayer
Angel still good?” and I feel like #SCGATL gave us the answer: yes, yes it
is. Lyra is showing up in lots of different decks on MTGO, too, making
appearances in U/W Approach, Esper Control, U/W Control, G/W Angels, U/W
Historic, and even W/B Vampires. I have no idea how many of these decks
will be good, but I’m confident that Lyra Dawnbringer will see a boatload
of Standard play.
Lyra’s gained about $5 in value since late last week, and she’ll probably
continue to rise over the next couple of days. $25-$30 seems about right,
at least short-term.
It’s worth noting that for Karn, Scion of Urza, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria,
and Lyra Dawnbringer to remain expensive-and I suspect they will
remain expensive-a lot of the set’s other cards will have to come down in
price thanks to…well, all the mitigating factors that I listed at the top
of the article.
I’ve been thinking of Dominaria a lot like Khans of Tarkir, another very popular set, where the existence of
the five fetchlands kept all the other prices down. Even though we’re going
to discuss some other clear winners out of Dominaria today, a set
can only have so much value to go around, and I expect that a lot of it
will end up sticking in these three chase mythics. That means that several
of these other cards (as well as other intriguing mythics, like Mox Amber)
might end up settling in at a lower dollar figure than they would in a set
with less top-end value.
#4: History of Benalia
Holy white cards, Batman! Three of Dominaria’s biggest winners are
mythic rares with white mana symbols in their casting cost, which tells me
that the new metagame is going to be pretty white-centric. At any rate,
History of Benalia spiked from $15 to $25 last week so this weekend’s
results aren’t likely to affect it much. The card does seem to be finding a
place to succeed, and I think it’ll remain expensive, but I don’t think
there’s much more room for the card to grow. I expect this one to
eventually settle in closer to $15, but it will undoubtedly keep seeing
#5: Goblin Chainwhirler
Mono-Red Aggro is still a good deck-in fact, it got the most copies of any
archetype into Day 2 at SCG Atlanta. Of course, that event was Team
Constructed, so I wouldn’t read too much into that.
At any rate, Goblin Chainwhirler is looking like a four-of in Mono-Red
Aggro and the card spiked to $7 as a result. I really like Chainwhirler,
but $7 is too high: the mythics from this set are soaking up too much
value, and mono-red cards generally tend to level off lower than cards in
other colors. Because of that, I expect Goblin Chainwhirler to settle in
closer to $4. The card is quite good, though, and it’ll probably end up
being one of the set’s better rares long-term.
#6: Steel Leaf Champion
Mono-Green Monument looked pretty awesome at camera at various points
during #SCGATL, and it might be the fastest goldfish deck in the format
right now. I’m not sure how it’ll continue to do once the metagame adjusts,
though, and the deck didn’t make Day Two in Atlanta. Again, Team
Constructed, Week One, blah, blah, don’t read too much into it…but I would
have liked to see a linear aggro deck do a little bit better out of the
gates, you know?
At any rate, people are going to want to build this deck regardless of how
good it ends up being. Steel Leaf Champion is a heck of a good card, and
casual demand alone should keep this one around the same price as Goblin
#7: Seal Away
Robbie Dupree’s smooth yacht rock jam Steal Away
, though I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get stuck in my head at least
half the time I think about Seal Away. While Standard uncommons are rarely
all that financially relevant (give or take the odd Fatal Push) it’s really
looking like Seal Away is going to be ubiquitous over the next couple of
years. It’s probably underpriced at $1 right now, and foils are a
reasonable deal at $5. This one will be $3-$4 at some point, I’d wager.
#8: Firesong and Sunspeaker
Unlike the other cards in Dominaria, the spigot will not continue
to flow for Firesong and Sunspeaker. Once the first round of buy-a-box
promos are out, that’s it-for a while, at least. According to EDHREC,
Firesong and Sunspeaker is currently the fifth most popular new Commander.
Since Dominaria is a “legends matter set,” that tells me that this
one’s going to hold its value pretty darned well over the next couple of
Don’t be surprised if somebody buys Firesong and Sunspeaker out two or
three months from now and the price triples overnight. “Ah, that makes
sense,” we’ll all say, wishing we’d bought in back when the card was less
This Week’s Trends
We’ve spend most of the day talking Standard, so let’s take a quick look
over at Modern.
Fecundity was the big winner of the week, jumping from near-bulk to about
$6. This is the sort of major spike out of left field that really pays off
for anyone who is super plugged into the market, so congratulations if you
made a couple hundred bucks this week on this previously-worthless card.
For the rest of us, however, it’s worth figuring out whether Fecundity is
the next Goblin Lore or if it’s merely smoke and mirrors.
While I’ve seen more head-scratching than actual buzz so far, it’s worth
pointing out that there’s a legit reason for the spike: Fecundity combos
well with Skirk Prospector, a card that is new to Modern thanks to Dominaria. Both Saffron Olive and SCG’s own Jim Davis released
videos this week attempting to make the combo work, and it looks pretty
sweet. Fecundity is an uncommon, but the supply is actually pretty low: it
was only printed in Urza’s Saga, 8th Edition, and Commander 2013, which means that it’s likely scarcer than a
current set mythic rare.
While I’d need to see the Fecundity deck actually show up and do well at a
tournament or two like B/R Hollow One did before, we’ll see. Think of it
like Krark-Clan Ironworks before the recent set of spikes.
Speaking of the Ironworks, that card shot up again this week and it’s
heading toward $20 now. The more this deck shows up in actual tournaments,
the higher it’ll go, and since it has never been reprinted it has a $40+
ceiling. I don’t think the card will jump that far, but I could easily see
it kick around the $20-$30 range for as long as Modern remains this linear.
Back in the world of Commander, all the best Saproling cards are popping
off thanks to good old Slimefoot, the Stowaway. Psychotrope Thallid, Utopia
Mycon, Saproling Symbiosis, and Nemata, Grove Guardian all quadrupled this
week, and I doubt the spikes are over. Thanks again to EDHREC, we know that
Thelonite Hermit, Verdeloth the Ancient, Verdant Embrace, Mycoloth,
Parallel Lives, Sporesower Thallid, and Second Harvest are all also seeing
new life thanks to Slimefoot. Verdant Embrace and Mycoloth have the lowest
supply of the cards that haven’t spiked yet, so expect them to go next.
I’ll be snapping up a few extra playsets of each since they’re so cheap
right now and look to sell them into the hype ASAP.
Speaking of spikes, the reserved list boom hasn’t slowed down. The
Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale shot up again this week, as did Mox Diamond,
Nether Void, Serra’s Sanctum, Illusionary Mask, Word of Command, Volrath’s
Stronghold, Aluren, Helm of Obedience, and several other cards. This is
getting crazy! I know that Legacy is more popular than Vintage, but the
Power 9 actually feel a bit underpriced to me right now considering how
absurd some of these other values have gotten.
Also, don’t forget about From the Vault: Relics. There’s a Mox
Diamond hiding in there that some people have forgotten about, and you can
still get copies of this in some places for less than the new spiked Mox