Insider Trading – Goodbye Extended! (Part 1 of 2)

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Friday, September 12th – Shards of Alara is almost here, and this will herald a two-block and one base set rotation out of Extended. Gone will be seven full sets – 7th Edition, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse, Odyssey, Torment, and Judgment. Which cards will drop in value from these sets, and which will hold their price? How will the losses of individual cards affect the value of the remaining cards in the Extended card pool? Find out the answers to these questions in this two-part Insider Trading series! Special Bonus: Which cards are rising up in price even as we speak? Ben talks about a few cards that have (or are about to see) significant price jumps! Plus: What is Ben’s pick for the hottest card spoiled out of Shards of Alara so far?

Hello everyone, and welcome to the Big Extended Rotation edition(s) of Insider Trading! As many of you know, Wizards announced a change to the Extended rotation earlier in the year. Instead of three blocks rotating at once, each year will see the last block worth of sets fall out, leaving seven years worth of sets in Extended at any given time. This change left Onslaught, Legions, and Scourge (fetch lands galore!) in Extended, but meant that 7th, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse, Odyssey, Torment, and Judgment were going to be given the axe. The release of Shards of Alara signals the rotation, and Shards is only a few weeks away. Now is the time to take account of the rotating cards, and to check in on changing values in Extended!

I’ve broken down the rotating cards by three ratings: Major, Medium, or Minor (the three M’s!). Major means that the rotation is significant, and will have a big effect on the value of other cards in the format. Medium means that the card has seen solid play, but its rotation shouldn’t affect other card values much. Minor means that the card is probably a role-player, and while it has seen play, it shouldn’t really drop much in price (or change the value of other cards) too greatly.

Major = Big impact on the format and other cards.
Medium = Some impact on the format, minimal on other cards.
Minor = Small impact on the format.

This article can also serve as a checklist to you tournament players out there that need a quick guide to what’s rotating out of the format. Remember, Onslaught is staying — so Stifle, Mind’s Desire, Decree of Justice, and Fetch Lands live to fight another season! Got it? Good! Let’s start with Invasion!


Absorb/Undermine (Minor)
I lump Absorb and Undermine together because neither has seen a vast amount of play the last few years. As time has gone on, there have been better and better choices in the two-slot for a back-up Counterspell to Counterspell (Remand, Mana Leak, Rune Snag), plus the mono-Blue Cancel in a pinch (which isn’t played much either in Extended). Undermine had a heyday with old-school Psychatog decks, and Absorb in defensive U/W decks. Both were nice options to have in Extended, but neither will be missed much in general. Their current price is mainly based on casual play and nostalgia.

Ancient Spring/Geothermal Crevice/Irrigation Ditch/Sulfur Vent/Tinder Farm (Major)
While these guys were mostly in the $0.25 range as commons, their absence cripples the Mind’s Desire deck. Yes, Mind’s Desire itself will still be around. Almost every support card for the Mind’s Desire deck is gone, including nearly the entire manabase of the deck (the sac lands and the next card on this list), along with several support cards and mana accelerants. I would never count Mind’s Desire down entirely as a deck, but the loss of a deck’s entire manabase is crippling to the value of the cards in that deck. Imagine affinity if only the artifact lands were banned. Would Ravager and friends have been potent playing with Islands and Mountains? Not as much so as with Seat of the Synod and Great Furnace. This also harms Balancing Tings (the Balancing Act/Terravore deck), but I’ll talk about that deck when I get to Odyssey.

Archaeological Dig (Minor)
A support player in the Mind’s Desire and Tings deck, from above. If just this was rotating, then the Mind’s Desire deck would find something else to fill the role — City of Brass, Murmuring Bosk, what have you – so the loss of this land individually is negligible compared to the total apocalypse happening to the current build of Mind’s Desire.

Armadillo Cloak (Medium)
Every Extended season, W/G ‘answer’ decks (built around answers to the currently dominating decks in the format) would crop up and inevitably they would have Armadillo Cloak either main-deck or sideboarded as a weapon against aggressive decks. Despite the power level of the Shadowmoor and Eventide auras, they all share the same flaw — they need to go on specifically-colored creatures. Armadillo Cloak worked equally well on a Mono-White or Mono-Green creature, giving it a big edge up on these newer variants.

Aura Shards (Medium)
I promise that not everything on this list comes in twos! This is another key card of the W/G answer deck, and a really effective card against several decks — Affinity, Scepter/Chant, and Enduring Ideal decks just to name a few. While one-and-a-half of those three decks won’t exist anymore (Scepter/Chant, and Ideal, due to the loss of Solitary Confinement), there is sure to be a lot of Affinity in the new Extended. This is a pretty big loss for W/G creature decks, but the value of the loss is mainly self-contained in the value of Aura Shards, and not the cards supporting Aura Shards (Kitchen Finks, Loxodon Hierarch, Troll Ascetic, and so on).

Collective Restraint (Minor)
A sideboard choice that wasn’t played a whole lot, but did see some play. Ghostly Prison seems a somewhat adequate replacement for the Restraint, but this is one of those cards that was an option in the format, just in case you wanted to use it. Not a big loss, and still will be valued for casual play. Great in EDH.

Disrupt (Minor)
I always thought of Disrupt as more of a Vintage/Legacy card, where there are likely to be more instants and sorceries, and an early game one-mana swing would have more significance. Disrupt was played in Extended, but mostly as a sideboard card; and the loss of Force Spike means a lot more for Blue decks than Disrupt. Disrupt is a greedy card anyhow — anything that Disrupt can deal with, Force Spike can as well, meaning that you’re trading flexibility for the chance to draw a card.

Fact or Fiction (Medium)
If you had played Extended three years ago, would you have thought that the loss of Fact or Fiction was just moderately important? FoF is a great card-drawing card, but it fell by the wayside over the years as more efficient card-drawing cards were printed for Extended (Thirst for Knowledge in particular). While this did still see play, it was only one of several options, and not the back-breaking win-now skill tester it had been ‘back in the day.’ It has already taken some hit in value due to rotation, but I think that casual play and nostalgia will also keep Fact or Fiction at around the $3-$4 range for the time being. Special Note: Some group of Vintage players have been lobbying for this to be unrestricted in Vintage for some time. If this happens, expect the value of Fact or Fiction to jump back into the $5-$6 range, at the least.

Fires of Yavimaya (Minor)
Once a dominant build-around-me card; now a choice among many including Reckless Charge and Lightning Greaves. Another card that was good to know about just-in-case you needed this effect, but it really wasn’t played a lot and won’t be missed much. Still a popular casual card!

Global Ruin (Minor)
Global Ruin saw some sideboard play as a Burning Wish target; without Burning Wish, Global Ruin probably would not have seen play at all. Therefore, I note that it is passing, but note more that Burning Wish (more so than Living Wish and Cunning Wish) exiting the format will have a major effect on card values for these one-of solutions. I’ll talk about this extensively in the Judgment segment.

Opt (Minor)
Another option among many for a one-drop cantrip card-drawing effect. See also; Sleight of Hand, Serum Visions, Ponder. Choice of spell was more a matter of playtesting and preference, and no one deck will really care too much, in the end, if it has to use an alternate to Opt.

Overload (Minor)
A one-drop Red solution to affinity lands, at instant speed. Wasn’t played a lot, but saw some play because it was the Red Oxidize against things that mattered — Lotus Bloom (Mind’s Desire), affinity lands, Isochron Scepter. Ancient Grudge and Shattering Spree work just fine in these capacities in the new Extended.

Sterling Grove (Minor)
Another card that saw some fringe play, but the value of Sterling Grove ($3-$4, depending on the week) has been tied forever to casual players, who A) don’t like having their toys messed with and B) like being able to tutor for new toys. Sterling Grove shouldn’t change in value due to rotation for those reasons.

Tangle (Minor)
This was one of two rotating Green Fog effects that saw play in Extended; the other (Moment’s Peace) matters a lot more than Tangle, since Tangle was more a choice for an aggro-on-aggro mirror match, where’s Moment’s Peace was the choice for control-on-aggro matches. The loss of both of these helps aggro decks in general, but again, Moment’s Peace is the more significant loss of the two.


Destructive Flow (Moderate)
The loss of Destructive Flow would have been major just one season earlier, but there’s a new superstar for non-basic land hosing — Magus of the Moon. Magus of the Moon has steadily risen in value over the past year. It started as a niche block card, became a Standard staple, and has found a place as a Vintage, Legacy, and Extended hoser-of-choice. This past weekend at Eurovino 3, several players commented about losses solely to Magus of the Moon mucking up their manabase and then beating down; this will also happen in Extended, as manabases keep getting greedier. Destructive Flow isn’t a casual-friendly card and isn’t seeing play in many other formats, so my thoughts are that it will drop to around Bulk Rare price by the end of the year.

Special Grand Prix: Rimini Note: Many, many people commented that River Kelpie had finally made good in Block, and will finally have a break-out performance, leading to a jump in sales and price on River Kelpie. Unfortunately, this comes right in time for Block to be an obsolete format. However, many Vintage players started running River Kelpie as a one and two-of in their Dredge decks, and swore by it (if I draw it, I win!). Given the potentially explosive nature of this card, and that it is resilient (needs to generally be killed twice to be dealt with), I’d probably invest in a playset sooner than later, if you don’t already have a set!

Another Special Note About Block Constructed: Painter’s Servant finally had a non-Grindstone coming-out party when 4th Place Nationals Finisher Marsh Usury won the Richmond PTQ with a Painter’s Servant/Chaotic Backlash deck. I’ve always been a huge fan of Painter’s Servant in non-Eternal formats (and I hope someday to hit someone with Painter’s Servant/Persecute in Extended). Color matters, and coloring everything at once matters more. Painter’s Servant has a big effect that will be more and more exploitable as time goes on, and it has come down some in value since Shadowmoor’s release. Now’s the time to pick up a playset of this 1/3 utility creature as well.

Draco (Minor)
No longer the partner of Erratic Explosion as the off-the-board finisher-of-choice for random decks that decide they want to Insidious Dreams (also rotating) for the win. This card mainly had casual appeal (16 mana, man! 16 mana!). This is also a creature that has potential implications for Vintage down the road, solely because it is a 16-mana artifact creature. If mana-cost on artifact creatures matters on another Vintage-playable card some day, this could be the artifact of choice for that deck (see also: the change in Flash making Protean Hulk from a zero to a hero. Yes, I went there. No, you cannot.)

Dromar’s Charm (Minor)
Dromar’s Charm was a marginal counterspell/creature removal spell/lifegain tool that did see some play, just not a lot. It’s a great toolbox card (which do I want? Let’s have all three!), but no one particular deck will mourn the loss of this from the Extended scene.

Eladamri’s Call (Minor)
Eladamri’s Call was a good tutor, for a time, in both W/G toolbox decks, and in Life decks. Then those decks figured out that Living Wish was a lot more versatile, and didn’t clog up valuable main-deck slots with unnecessary one-ofs. Eladamri’s Call was relegated to second-tier status, though it is still a fine card for casual play, and more powerful than other alternatives, being on-par with Summoner’s Pact and Worldly Tutor.

Flametongue Kavu (Minor)
Once upon a time, Flametongue Kavu was the creature that ruined Standard for all other creatures. FTK was the mighty alpha-and-omega of creature kill, a 4/2 beater that took out anything that stood in its path. Nowadays? Flametongue is relegated to being a curiosity, almost unplayed in any Constructed formats. When was the last time you faced one of these guys in Extended, Vintage, or Legacy? Still good for casual play, but not as good as it used to be. Its value should drop some post-rotation, as it has run out of time to be good again in Constructed.

Forsaken City (Minor)
A five-color mana fixer for combo decks and the like. There are other reliable replacements, so losing this just means that you’ll have to find other options (City of Brass, Vivid Lands, Reflecting Pool, Gemstone Mine). Not a biggy to lose, but one fewer option for decks.

Gaea’s Might (Moderate)
My oh my, what will they call this deck now? Aggro Zoo, instead of Gaea’s Might Get There? The loss of Gaea’s Might is a blow to that deck, but half the versions of this deck eschewed Gaea’s Might entirely, so it’s not a crippling blow by any means. Plus, if the early Shards spoilers are to be believed, there are plenty of on-color creatures for aggressive W/G/R decks to bash with in Extended (including a 3/3 for G and a 5/4 for WGR).

Hull Breach (Minor)
Another Burning Wish target that probably wouldn’t have seen as much play as Ancient Grudge without Burning Wish around. Another anti-Affinity (and anti-enchantment card) gone from Extended, to be replaced with the newest anti-Affinity (or anti-enchantment) card.

Special Shard of Alara Affinity Note:

Have you been following the spoilers at MTGSalvation.com? If you have been, you’ve see this card rumored:

Master of Etherium
U2, Artifact Creature: – Vedalken Wizard
Master of Etherium’s power and toughness are equal to the number of artifacts you control.
Other artifact creatures you control get +1/+1.

This may end up being the most valuable Rare out of the set, if the (unofficial) spoiler text on Master of Etherium is correct. This guy is Ravager-good for Affinity decks, and extremely playable in Vintage. He’s an artifact creature (counts himself), boosts your other creatures, and has a huge power/toughness. In Affinity, he might as well read “Master of Etherium power and toughness are equal to the number of permanents you control.” That’s ridiculously powerful for three mana.

Turn 1: Great Furnace, Ornithopter, Springleaf Drum, Frogmite.
Turn 2: Glimmervoid, Master of Etherium, attack for three (Frogmite)
Turn 3: Ancient Den, Cranial Plating, equip to Ornithopter, swing for 18 (8/3 Ornithopter, 7/7 Master of Etherium, 3/3 Frogmite)

Because you have both Paradise Mantle and Springleaf Drum (and Ornithopter/Arcbound Worker), this scenario can be repeated with surprising regularity. Master of Etherium isn’t a Tarmogoyf-sized mistake, but only because it isn’t universally playable. From what I’ve seen of the new Extended so far, Master of Etherium might very well end up as the most significant Affinity tech in years.

Meddling Mage (Major)
This is only the second Major shake-up card on the list, and for good reason — Meddling Mage has been stopping people from casting game-altering spells for years. It’s been good enough to see significant play in every format in which it’s been legal. There is no current Extended card which duplicates the effect you get from Meddling Mage at an efficient price (Voidstone Gargoyle costs way too much to cast). The price on Meddling Mage has been dropping quickly for a post-rotation world. I wouldn’t dump them on the open market too quickly (they are still good in Eternal formats), but I wouldn’t hold out hope for a high-value return on them at this point either.

Public Memo to Myself: Future Article — what mechanics should be allowed in the base set, and why a small base set is bad for Magic. Post-note: Gold Cards should be happily printed in the core set, given how popular and populous the mechanic has been.

Orim’s Chant (Major)
Another big loss to Extended, as this was the lock in the Isochron Scepter/lock decks. It was also one of the best tools to disrupt combo decks as they were going off. I’m drawing a blank here, but my notes show nothing as ruthlessly efficient as a ‘stop’ button as Orim’s Chant currently still in the Extended rotation. This will follow a similar trajectory to Meddling Mage, and has even less of a chance of being reprinted than Chris Pikula.

Rith’s Charm (Minor)
Rith’s Charm made some waves last season as a very cheap enabler for Windbrisk Heights. Then they printed Spectral Procession in Shadowmoor. Next!

Rushing River (Minor)
There are plenty of bounce cards in Extended. Rushing River was just one of dozens of choices — an extra mana for the chance to bounce two permanents (at the cost of an additional land on your part), which is versatile enough to matter for some decks. However, the loss of Rushing River is more of a loss of a choice than a lifestyle, so no decks will really miss it too terribly much.

Sunscape Familiar (Minor)
Plan “A” for Mind’s Desire decks were the Invasion sac-lands. Plan “B” would be reverting to a discounted mana-cost build, with Sunscape Familiar. Oops, Sunscape Familiar is gone! Time for Plan “C”: Switch to Dragonstorm and run Rite of Flame and Seething Song instead…

Terminate (Minor)
One of the most efficient creature-kill spells of all time in one of the least-popular and least-played color combinations. This is the Lightning Bolt of Terrors — a card loved by casual players because it is ruthlessly efficient. I could entirely see this card getting reprinted some day (and no, I have no inside information about Shards block, so if this ends up getting reprinted during Shards block, it was a good guess on my part), because Black/Red realllllly could use the help.


Bloodfire Dwarf (Minor)
Bloodfire Dwarf started to see play towards the middle of the last Extended season as an answer to mass 1/1 creatures (Empty the Warrens, Beacon of Creation). It is easily replaced by Martyr of Ashes in those same decks. It’s another utility creature gone, but one with a ready (and eager) replacement.

Evasive Action (Minor)
Gaea’s Might Get There decks ran this as a Blue-splash. This was more a matter of preference than necessity, as often Mana Leak (or Remand) will get the same results — kicking back a mass-removal spell or life-gain fatty while you pound face with your one and two drops.

Fire/Ice (Major)
Poor Isochron Scepter. With time, it can only get better and better because Wizards is not going to stop printing one-and-two mana instants. However, it lost its two best friends in Extended this rotation — first Orim’s Chant and now Fire/Ice. Control and combo players have been using Fire/Ice for years both with and without the Scepter. The utility between the two sides is undeniable — tap down a creature, tap down a land, shoot two utility creatures, shoot you for two a turn. Fire/Ice was a major, major Extended tool that saw a lot of play from the start to finish of its Extended run. There are plenty of cards which are efficient replacements for either half of the Fire/Ice effect, but no cards that wrap the two together in such a neat package.

Gerrard’s Verdict (Minor)
The value of Gerrard’s Verdict climbed as Chris Pikula took a W/B deck to a strong finish at a high-profile Legacy tournament. The value of Gerrard’s Verdict, since then, has been tied more to Legacy than to Extended. Players have tried to get the W/B deck to work in Extended, without much real success; but while this might happen someday, it’ll have to be without Gerrard’s Verdict. This should probably drop back down to bulkish Uncommon price, as it’s out of favor and out of time.

Goblin Legionnaire (Minor)
Goblin Legionnaire saw play for a couple of seasons, and then fell out of favor to more efficient beaters — Tarmogoyf, Isamaru, and Boros Swiftblade, to name a few. It still saw some play here and there, but the final nail in its coffin was the return of Mogg Fanatic to Extended. The Legionnaire won’t be missed much, but it had its fans.

Goblin Ringleader (Major)
The current Extended Goblin deck only lost a couple of cards, but MAN they were doozies! Goblin Matron (which I’ll cover in next week’s article) is a big loss, but Goblin Ringleader might well be a crippling one. You can still get a ridiculous beatdown draw with Skirk Prospector, Mogg War Marshal, Goblin Warchief and Goblin Piledriver, but if you get stopped… you’re stone out of gas. Goblin Ringleader gave you the means to plow through any sort of control deck. Did they Wrath you? Ringlead to fill your hand! Did you need to get your storm count up for a huge Empty the Warrens or to go off with Fecundity or Goblin Sharpshooter? Goblin Ringleader kept the goblins coming so you could win in one turn. Without the Ringleader (card advantage) or Matron (efficient Tutoring), the deck loses a lot of consistency and resilience that it needs to win.

Life/Death (Moderate)
Life/Death hadn’t been played a ton in recent times, but it was the cheapest reanimation spell left in the format. Now, undeath begins at a much higher cost (three and up).

Pernicious Deed (Major)
Pernicious Deed is the cornerstone of The Rock. More so than any other card, it was the enchantment that made B/G worth playing in Extended. The Deed gave B/G game against aggressive decks, Affinity, and combo. It was the ultimate reset button, and there is absolutely nothing that currently exists to replace it in Extended. This is a huge, huge loss for The Rock, and one that might push the balance away from B/G and towards W/G once and for all. The price on Pernicious Deed should go down some, but it’s still well received in Eternal formats and causal play groups (more so than Orim’s Chant or Meddling Mage).

Spiritmonger (Minor)
A previous superstar in the Rock, but one that has been eclipsed long-since by more efficient beaters and larger monsters. If only Spiritmonger had some sort of evasion! It does not, and so it did not see play in recent seasons. Spiritmonger has many casual fans, and so while it no longer commands a $10-$15 price tag, it should remain popular enough to float in the $5-$6 range indefinitely.

Vindicate (Major)
Vindicate was the card that made Black/White worth playing. Pound-for-Pound, you can argue that Vindicate is the best removal spell in the game, because it can remove anything. This includes Planeswalkers, which are hard to directly remove — and over time, there will be more Planeswalkers that need removing. Even then, the versatility of being able to kill any permanent on the board at half the price of a Desert Twister is tremendous, and no card since has hit the power level of Vindicate. This card dropped a little at the end of last season, but it has a lot of interest in Eternal formats (more so Legacy than Vintage) — plus it is extremely popular with casual play groups. I wouldn’t expect this to drop below the $10 mark, even though it’s gone from Extended.

That’s all I’ve got room for this week, but join me next week as I finish up the series with a look at Odyssey, Torment, Judgment, and 7th Edition. See you regular time on Tuesday! And in two weeks, my article will run on Friday again as I’ll discuss the Financial Value of Shards of Alara the day before the Prerelease!

Special Bonus Section!

Here’s a reference list of the rotating cards that matter, without the commentary!

Ancient Spring/Geothermal Crevice/Irrigation Ditch/Sulfur Vent/Tinder Farm
Archaeological Dig
Armadillo Cloak
Aura Shards
Collective Restraint
Fact or Fiction
Fires of Yavimaya
Global Ruin
Sterling Grove

Destructive Flow
Dromar’s Charm
Eladamri’s Call
Flametongue Kavu
Forsaken City
Gaea’s Might
Hull Breach
Meddling Mage
Orim’s Chant
Rith’s Charm
Rushing River
Sunscape Familiar

Bloodfire Dwarf
Evasive Action
Gerrard’s Verdict
Goblin Legionnaire
Goblin Ringleader
Pernicious Deed