Welcome back to my financial set review of Kaladesh, Magic’s newest set. If you didn’t read Part 1, which includes thirteen of the fifteen mythic rares, check it out here. If you want to hear my thoughts on the Masterpiece Series, I’ve got you covered there as well.
This week’s installment covers the final two mythics as well as all of the rares. As I discussed in my last article, I doubt too many of Kaladesh’s rares will end up breaking the $2-$3 mark once the initial hype dies down. Between the Masterpieces, the high-profile mythics, and the land cycle, there just isn’t that much more potential value to go around. If you open any rares that appear to prove themselves during the first week or two of tournament play, I’d sell or trade them away ASAP.
That said, the pre-order prices for rares in this set have already anticipated this eventuality. Other than the fast lands, the most expensive rare can be had for just four bucks. Most of them are in the $1-$2 range. In fact, I can’t remember the last time when it was this cheap to pre-order rares from a large fall set.
Even though I don’t recommend pre-ordering expensive rares if you’re a value-conscious player, the fact that you can buy a set of almost anything for next to nothing right now cannot be ignored. If you’re a deckbuilder who already knows what you want to play this fall, go nuts. There’s essentially zero risk. The ability to play the deck of your choice from Week 1 on is worth far more than the few dollars you’ll save by waiting.
As a speculator, though, I’m still staying away from almost everything. Except for the short-term spec opportunities that will present themselves over the next month or so, all of these cards are likely to be cheaper by the start of 2017.
To the cards!
The Last Two Mythic Rares
Dovin Baan – $19.99
Dovin Baan is the least unique and exciting of the four Kaladeshi planeswalkers, but that doesn’t mean it won’t see play. U/W is a historically great color combination, but Dovin Baan does exactly what a competitive control planeswalker should. It protects itself (on offense and defense!), draws cards, and has a game-winning ultimate. It’s similar to Kiora, the Crashing Wave, but its abilities are across-the-board better, its colors are better, and its starting loyalty is higher. Oh—and Kiora was quite good during her first year of Standard legality.
I’d have higher hopes for Dovin Baan if there weren’t so many other great cards in the set, but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t find a home somewhere. Expect Dovin to stay in the $10-$15 range unless there’s a breakout control deck at some point. This is one of those cards that might fly under the radar until the Pro Tour and then see a serious breakout, a la Emrakul, the Promised End.
Combustible Gearhulk – $5.99
It’s hard to properly evaluate punisher cards because they always seem better than they are. Yes, there will be some times when Combustible Gearhulk is just unbeatable, especially if you can stack your deck a little, but you’re always going to get whatever option helps you the least. For that reason, these cards tend to be overrated (and overpriced) thanks to overeager evaluation by less experienced players. Pros dislike these sorts of cards, and they will do whatever they can to avoid allowing their opponents to make any decisions at all.
Does that mean Combustible Gearhulk is awful? Not necessarily. Both of these modes are quite powerful, and the fact that your opponent doesn’t get to know what they cards are before they choose can allow you to win some games out of nowhere. Six mana is too much for aggro, though, so it’ll have to find home in some sort of ramp or big R/G deck. I can see it keeping its value if it finds a home, but it’s going to be bulk very soon if it doesn’t.
The Rare Land Cycle
· Spirebluff Canal – $6.99
· Blooming Marsh – $5.99
· Inspiring Vantage – $5.99
· Botanical Sanctum – $4.99
· Concealed Courtyard – $4.99
These lands will be heavily played as long as they’re in Standard. They’ll also be played in Modern, where Spirebluff Canal might end up being one of the top twenty most important cards in the entire format. If you play any competitive Magic at all, you will want a set of these. They aren’t fetchlands or shocklands, but they’re comfortably the third-best land cycle in Modern.
Will these lands maintain their $5-$7 price tags through the coming glut of Kaladesh product? Some of them could, but it will depend on how Standard ends up shaking out. Modern playability alone won’t create enough demand for these cards to maintain their current price tags. If there’s no U/R deck in Standard, even Spirebluff Canal might end up at $3 before long. I’d hold off for now and buy what you need once you know what you’re playing in Standard. If you want to speculate on their long-term prices thanks to Modern demand, hold off for a couple of months until Kaladesh is old news.
The Other Rares Pre-Selling For More Than $2
Fumigate – $3.99
The lifegain stapled to this card should ensure that it sees play, but it’s never been a worse time to be a sorcery-speed sweeper. Between all the Vehicles and the powerful new planeswalkers, I’m not sure how Fumigate becomes a multi-deck powerhouse. I’d rather have Cataclysmic Gearhulk in almost every situation, and I’ll take Kozilek’s Return in most of the others. Fumigate might see some play, but it’ll mostly be out of sideboards, I suspect. Future $1 rare.
Smuggler’s Copter – $3.99
Smuggler’s Copter seems like one of the best cards in the entire set. Unless it’s a lot harder to Crew these Vehicles than we think, a colorless two-mana 3/3 flier that loots and dodges sorcery-speed removal (and sweepers, and planeswalker abilities…) seems fantastic. The financial upside here is quite high as well—if Vehicles are even a little bit better than we think, this could end up as a four-of in several top decks. If you’re going to pre-order a top-end rare from this set, Smuggler’s Copter is by far the most likely to pay off.
Panharmonicon – $2.99
Panharmonicon is a great casual card, but as a four mana do-nothing, the tempo loss is going to be too hard for most competitive decks to overcome. It’s nice with cards like Eldrazi Displacer and Brood Monitor (infinite mana in Standard!), but that’s not going to be a top-tier deck. And Panharmonicion is far too slow for Modern, barring any bizarre Primeval Titan synergies.
As for casual play, Strionic Resonator is a similar card that is only $2 because nobody opened Magic 2014. Panharmonicon will likely settle in between $0.75 and $1, though it will have some long-term casual upside.
Scrapheap Scrounger – $2.99
I can’t tell you where Scrapheap Scrounger’s eventual home will be, but I suspect that it’ll find at least one. It plays well with madness, delirium, Zombie recursion, Vehicles, colorless matters…the list goes on. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Scrapheap Scrounger shows up in a Modern deck or two.
I don’t know if the overwhelming value of the mythics and Masterpieces will suppress the price of Scrapheap Scrounger to the point where it’s a bad buy at $3, but I’d be shocked if it doesn’t see enough play to stay above bulk. A very solid pick-up at current retail if you think you’ll have a use for the card.
Toolcraft Exemplar – $2.99
Yes, Toolcraft Exemplar plays well with Aether Vial…but will it have any game in Standard? Without something like Memnite to combine with it, I can’t imagine it shows up in anything more than a rogue deck or two. Pick up foils if you want them for Modern or Legacy, but I expect the non-foil to end up in the $0.50-$1 range before long.
Bomat Courier – $2.49
I’ve heard people talk about Bomat Courier as a delirium enabler, but I don’t see it. This thing isn’t going to get in for even a single damage most of the time, and it’s an abominable topdeck. Also, discarding your hand is almost always terrible. Don’t do it.
Where Bomat Courier shines is as a one-drop for red aggro decks. In those, you’ll have games where this gets in for three damage, you fire off all your burn spells, and then you cycle this to draw a little more action once your hand is already empty. If mono-red is good, Bomat Courier should end up in the $2-$5 range. If not, it’ll be a bulk rare. Buy in if you’re building the deck, but the upside is fairly low.
Kambal, Consul of Allocation – $2.49
Kambal is awesome, but his applications are pretty narrow. Commander decks might want him, and he could be a fringe player in Vintage or Legacy, but the 1WB mana cost should limit him to a single deck in Standard (and probably the sideboard of that deck besides). Creatures are just so key right now that I can’t imagine Kambal has much of a purpose beyond annoying the U/R mages. Future $1 rare with some high foil upside.
The $1.50-$2 Rares
I love the design on Aetherflux Reservoir, but it seems worse than all the existing win conditions for Storm in Legacy and it would take a hell of a lot for this to get there in Standard. I’m pegging it as a future bulk rare, but future releases could allow it to end up in some sort of Mono-Blue Prison-style Standard brew.
Almost assuredly too cute for competitive play, but great in casual token decks and potentially broken with the right planeswalker as a way to speed up ultimates. Animation Module is a nice long-term hold if it hits bulk, and it should trade well, but it only has an outside chance of breaking through in Standard.
I think Cultivator’s Caravan is awesome. This card would be playable at two mana just as an artifact with a mana ability, so the fact that it will sometimes attack as a 5/5 is well worth the additional cost. Could see play in multiple decks, and a very solid buy at current retail.
Depala, Pilot Exemplar has the look of a casual card, but she’s aggressively costed and becomes a pretty beastly card advantage engine if you’re running enough vehicles. I suspect the competitive Vehicle deck(s) won’t be this linear, but Depala has a shot at hitting $4-$5 at some point. I just don’t think it’s particularly likely.
Fleetwheel Cruiser feels like the fourth-best Vehicle in the set, but still really solid in red aggro—you don’t need to Crew this the first time it comes out, and you probably have a couple of do-nothing 1/1s by turn 5 anyhow. If red aggro is good, this is a $2-$3 card. Otherwise, I suspect it’ll drop toward bulk.
Like so many of the cards in this set, Ghirapur Orrery might find a home somewhere, but I highly doubt that home is anywhere near a competitive Standard list. Future bulk rare.
If the new Standard is the sort of place where a 2/3 with deathtouch is an effective counter to your opponents’ plans, Gonti, Lord of Luxury might be good. I would bet against that happening, though.
The flexibility is really nice here, but it’s just a little overcosted to see much play. If there’s a blue deck that runs a lot of targets for removal and the format becomes based around targeted removal, it might see some maindeck play. Otherwise, it’s a fringy sideboard card and future bulk rare.
Inventors’ Fair might see a little play in Lantern Control, and it’s quite good in casual artifact decks. High floor, and there’s some intriguing long-term upside here. Not a bad card to pre-order.
Lathnu Hellion will see play in Standard. It’s possibly good enough for mono-red aggro on its own, and it’s certainly good enough to help enable an R/G “Energy matters” deck. One of my favorite buys on this tier for sure.
Lost Legacy will be played in Standard now that Infinite Obliteration is gone. It’s likely either a sideboard card or a maindeck two-of, but the fact that it works well against Emrakul, the Promised End and Kozilek’s Return should give it a solid place in the metagame. Should stay in the $1-$3 range, so feel free to buy now if you need them.
Marionette Master is another card you have to jump through like nine hoops to make work, and this one costs six mana? I’m not buying it.
Metalwork Colossus would be a future multi-format all-star if it had trample but still could see some play regardless. I’m skeptical about giant creatures that don’t do anything, but the recursion is quite good and cards with significant cost reduction effects tend to be underrated (see: all the emerge creatures currently running around Standard). I doubt that Metalwork Colossus is good enough to find a home in multiple great decks, but there are worse gambles in this set.
Syndicate Trafficker has some serious upside for a two-drop, but it’s pretty narrow and weak to Liliana. Another card with an intriguing amount of power that’s worth grabbing if you want to play with it ASAP, but odds are it’ll end up as bulk.
The Dollar and 50-Cent Rares
Aethersquall Ancient would be an Intro Pack rare. You know…if Intro Packs were still a thing.
Architect of the Untamed is unimpressive unless you’re using the Energy for something else or you curve into this early in a ramp deck. Feels underpowered for its mana cost.
Authority of the Consuls could be a versatile enough hate card to see play somewhere. It’s solid against both aggro and Through the Breach, worth a consideration in Modern sideboards. It’s also worth noting that this makes Splinter Twin worse, which might be helpful if that ban is reversed at some point. One of my favorite dollar specs in the set.
Bristling Hydra? I’ve bet on far better-looking four mana green creatures and lost. That said, it could find a home if the R/G Energy deck gets there.
Captured by the Consulate is too complex to be an uncommon, but it’s below the power level of the best uncommon white removal spells.
I’m not willing to jump through the hoops required to make Cultivator of Blades work, and I can’t see it making the cut in Constructed.
For every person who is excited about this card, roughly one million copies of Dubious Challenge will be opened.
If there’s a fast spell Energy deck, Dynavolt Tower has a shot at seeing play in it. Too bad they added the tap cost, or else this might be a serious powerhouse. Potentially not bulk, but a very low ceiling.
Electrostatic Pummeler is potentially dangerous in some sort of Energy aggro shell, but it’s another hoop-jumping card that has one shot at finding a home. Narrow, low ceiling.
If there’s another major payoff for sacrificing your whole team, Eliminate the Competition (and Westvale Abbey) might end up making an impact. It’ll be bulk in the meantime, though.
Key to the City is interesting as a possible madness enabler while providing card filtering for aggro decks. The fact that it’s decent without madness and doesn’t have any color requirements helps. I like this card and could see it in multiple decks.
Madcap Experiment is hard to break, but it does work with Platinum Empyrion. Could find other interesting homes as well. Seems like perfect “combulk” card to grab when it’s cheaper and stash over the long haul.
Master Trinketeer is probably too slow for Standard, though the right cheap Thopter card could change that. Curves well into Gideon, too. Worth keeping an eye on, but not holding out much hope.
Ah, Midnight Oil. There’s no reason for profiteers to stand in line in order to buy these, but I don’t wanna be the one to spoil your dream world. Some shakers and movers think this is a competitive Harmless Offering target, but I think they have a short memory and want the best of both worlds. In the world that I see, the power and the passion comes from Midnight Oil’s ability to function as a Phyrexian Arena stand-in for aggro decks that allow you to burnie your opponents out. Is that enough to make you king of the mountain? I doubt it. But if I’m wrong, at least you’ll have someone else to blame.
Cards like this are occasionally pushed for constructed play, but Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter doesn’t seem like she quite gets there. A little too slow, and not quite powerful enough.
Padeem, Consul of Innovation will be solid in the right Commander deck. Too expensive and fragile for Constructed play.
Paradoxical Outcome has some really interesting combo applications. Probably too expensive to be great, but I could see it in a Spell Queller / Oaths shell or even as a bizarre sort of finisher in an Eternal format or two. Long shot to really pay off, but intriguing as long-term combulk if it doesn’t make an impact in Standard.
Pia Nalaar has quite a lot of versatility for a three-mana card. It’s not very powerful, but it does enough well that I wouldn’t be surprised if it found a home or three. A solid gamble at $1 with some upside.
I have a few Commander decks that want Saheeli’s Artistry, but it’s too expensive to see play in Standard. Bulk rare.
The haste and scalability are both nice, and it’s not out of the question that Skyship Stalker will find a home. It feels like it’s just a tad too expensive, though.
Territorial Gorger seems like one of the strongest Energy payoffs in the set. Granted, it’s a four-mana creature that can be easily killed the turn you play it, but if your deck already wants to generate a ton of Energy for other reasons, this thing can get massively big massively quickly. I’m in for a set of these at just 50 cents a card.
Wildest Dreams seems playable to me. But even though it scales, I’m not sure it’s half as good as Seasons Past. I feel like this is the sort of card that will randomly be worth something in three or four years, but I’m not holding out hope that it’ll be a Standard staple.
This Week’s Trends
For the third week running, not much has happened to the Standard market. Kozilek’s Return, Eldrazi Displacer, and Collective Brutality continue trending up. Almost everything else is either stagnant or dropping in anticipation of Kaladesh. It’s likely your last chance to get several Eldritch Moon and Shadows over Innistrad cards at their summer lows, but you’ll have to be very good at guessing what the fall metagame is going to look like. I’m betting that Archangel Avacyn; Liliana, the Last Hope; and Emrakul, the Promised End will all still be very good.
In Modern, Engineered Explosives and Noble Hierarch are still climbing. Brushland was the week’s big winner, though, as some versions of the card have doubled in price, likely due to a buyout. Don’t expect a restock under $20, though I’d be surprised if the card doesn’t start dropping below that mark as speculation-fueled copies begin to hit the market. Previous buyout darling Mishra’s Bauble dropped considerably this week, likely because everyone who invested in them are finding the market of actual Modern Dredge players drying up a little.
In other news, someone bought a bunch of copies of Treachery in an attempt to spike the price. At the time of this writing, StarCityGames.com still has a bunch in stock at the old value, so I’m not sure if the buyout will stick. Treachery is a powerful Reserved List card, though, albeit one without many uses in competitive play, so I’d hold off selling into hype until we see where it lands.
Last, Platinum Emperion is rising in price thanks to a fun little combo with Madcap Experiment. It’s not an interaction that I expect to be good enough for Modern, but enough people want the card that it should settle above $10 for at least a little while. I’d sell into the hype here.
Deals of the Week
This week’s deal is one of the best I’ve seen in a while. The banner says that it’s 15% off “Commander singles,” but really that just means “15% off a bunch of cards that are incredibly awesome,” and it includes a ton of interesting Legacy and Vintage foils and non-English staples. There’s a bunch of Japanese stuff on sale (including a lot of pre-foil Japanese cards, the sweet spot for non-English Commanders like Eladamri, Lord of Leaves) and some Italian Legends Reserved List cards that are only getting scarcer these days. The foil Commander’s Arsenal Sylvan Library is down to just $51, and you can snag Platinum Emperion for $6.50 (the lowest price I’m seeing anywhere by a large margin) if you’re a believer in the Madcap Experiment deck. It’s worth doing a deep dive if you’re a fan of interesting and obscure foils. Always wanted a Japanese foil Vindicate from Apocalypse? You aren’t finding it cheaper than $76…if you can find it anywhere at all.
Comments from Last Week
What will the impact of the Masterpiece Series be on retailers? If players see how bad it is to buy booster packs instead of cheap singles, will their businesses be hurt?
– Joao Claudio Moraes Souza
I would imagine that more than 99% of players won’t think about the actual math involved here. High-variance inclusions tend to promote sales, not depress them, and the sorts of people who like to crack packs will probably be emboldened every time they open a $100 card. It’s why lottery jackpots with gigantic jackpots sell more tickets than lotteries with smaller prizes but better expected value.
Most game stores make a lot of their revenue on singles and drafting anyway, and neither of those pursuits will be affected by the Masterpiece Series. If anything, singles sales will go up as Standard becomes more affordable.
With the advent of Masterpieces, it seems like the From the Vault series is super redundant and unnecessary now. Not only does it not feel unique, it will take away valuable cards from the pool that are available to reprint as Masterpieces and in the Masters sets. Do you think WotC will stop printing FTV sets?
– Andrew Donutboy
I’ve felt that the From the Vault series has been outdated for years, Mr. Donutboy. It feels like a lazy relic of earlier times, and most players (myself included) strongly dislike the foiling process. I would hope that the Masterpiece Series marks the end of From the Vault, but you never know when it comes to WotC’s business decisions.
More interesting is Ben Bleiweiss’s idea that WotC might bail on regular pack foils entirely. By only printing foils as Prerelease promos and in special releases, it would make them a lot more special and allow otherwise underwhelming Masterpieces to drive hype and sales for a set. It’s a pretty good idea. I’m not sure how likely it is to occur, but if I worked for WotC I’d certainly look into it.
You brought up possible God Masterpieces in Amonkhet. I have a set of foil Gods put away that I’m speculating on that seemed like a sure thing. Should I sell them now?
– Ben Cottee
I’m still a little bit unsure about this, Ben. Mark Rosewater has said that the flavor of the Masterpieces has to fit the block, and the Theros Gods could go either way with that. Will they fit because there are (we assume) another pantheon of Gods, or not at all because those specific Gods aren’t anywhere near the plane of Amonkhet?
Thinking more about how the Kaladesh Inventions were illustrated to show how they exist as a part of the plane, though, (same with the Zendikar Expeditions), I’m less certain that the Theros Gods will be back until our next visit to Theros. I’m walking back my recommendation from last week—I’d keep holding.