Hello again, my friends. Welcome back to the column that explores the casual. I am one of many casual pathfinders, blazing a trail for more competitive players to wander down later.
Today I want to look back at one of my articles, and then look forward as that article once did.
Back in November of 2005 I published an article called High-Value Casual Cards, which you can find here, if you so desire.
This article explored high-value cards that kept their value because of the casual crowd, not the tournament one. We all know why a card like Vampiric Tutor is valuable. It is a highly sought after tool for tournament decks. Casual players can use it too, no question.
Casual players are often budget players, but not always. I know plenty of casual players who have Garruks and buy multiple booster boxes of the latest set. I also know causal player who might only buy a few packs of the latest set, and that’s it. There’s quite a wide range there.
I do not know many casual players, however, who will drop the cash on a card that they feel is too expensive because of tournaments. A classic example is Thoughtseize. If it were common, uncommon, or cheap, I know tons of players would have them in their casual decks. However, at the price they currently have, most casual players will pass, because Thoughtseize isn’t that great in casual games.
This is not an uncommon phenomenon. Tournament players drive the prize of single so high that casual players don’t touch them. Then, when the card rotates out or the furor dies down, casual players enter the picture and start acquiring the cards.
On the other hand, there are cards that have a high value to the casual audience, cards they are willing to spend money on. Akroma is a perfect example. She wins games all on her own, and casual players might be willing to spend double digit dollars on her.
In my first article, written over two years ago, I outlined many high-value casual cards, and then I made predictions about the value of some of them. Today, two years later, I want to take a look at those predictions and see which came true, and with which I was wrong. Then, after being honest, you’ll have a gauge for my new predictions.
For this article, I will be placing the value of the NM card on SCG beside the card. Why do that when you can look it up? I believe it is important for posterity that we have the old values to see.
Also assume that all versions are English, not foreign, which in some cases (like Italian Legends) will change the prices significantly.
The Old Predictions
Below are some cards that I predicted a value for, what their old value was, and what it is now. Then I assign a W for a win (one that I got right) and an L for a loss (one that I missed). I will assign an asterisk for a card that I missed, but something massively changed to have it happen (like Akroma). A card that did something I never predicted, but which is also not against my prediction, gets a ?. I will also use an ! to designate a card that moved the way I predicted it, but moved more than I anticipated.
Okay, let’s take a look at my predictions from that article:
Akroma *: I predicted that Akroma’s value of $20 would stay the same. Her value today has dropped to $15, a significant drop. However, I could not have foreseen that a legendary creature like Akroma would have been reprinted. If I had thought about it, I would have said, “If she doesn’t get reprinted, her value will stay the same,” which should go unmentioned in all predictions of card value.
Radiant, Archangel ? : I predicted that her value may drop a couple of bucks from $7 as time passes, but only if people forget about her. Her value has risen a buck, but that does not go against my earlier prediction, so she gets a ?.
Reya Dawnbringer W: I predicted that her $17.50 value would remain constant as long as “a similar card [doesn’t] come along.” Now she is at $7.50. Was this a win or an explainable lost. I never thought she would be reprinted in a basic set, and then distributed massively as the release promo. Her reprinting certainly counts as a “similar” card seeing print, so I absolutely nailed this one.
Avatar of Woe */W: I was close on the Avatar of Woe, so you might rule it either way. It dropped from $15 to $12.50 despite a reprint, but I said it would stay the same. Considering the hit Akroma ($5) and Reya ($10) took in reprinting, the more modest $2.50 shows I was right about the steady value of the card, but you might rule this an explainable unpredicted change.
Sliver Overlord W: When reviewed, the Overlord was just $5, and is now sitting at $15. Frankly, I thought it would go down, but I said that it would go up if more slivers got printed and wow, did they get printed. Time Spiral block plus changelings created a lot of love for slivers, and the Overlord has benefited in a big way. Luckily, I predicted it.
Spirit of the Night W: In my original article, I said that the SotN would increase in value due to additional exposure due to the online market. Two years later, it has gone from $9 to $10, a modest increase sure, but still within my prediction.
Visara the Dreadful L: I claimed that Visara would drop in value a buck or three, but in fact it has held steady at $10, which flies against my prediction. Frankly, I thought its triple Black and second fiddle to the Avatar would eventually catch up to it. Maybe that will happen, and my prediction will be vindicated, but not yet.
Avatar of Might W: I have never been impressed with this card, and felt its $5 value was a bit high. My prediction that it would “slack” in value proved true, dropping to $4.
Catacomb Dragon L: Like Spirit of the Night, I though Catacomb Dragon would increase in value because of the release of Mirage online. Instead it dropped from $5 to $4, which is disappointing for one of the most flavorful dragons in existence. They should call its ability “Dragonfear,” and print it on more dragons.
Academy Rector W: Starting at $6, I said the Rector would keep its value because of the relatively unique space it holds in decks. Today, it is still worth exactly $6.
Ball Lightning W: I predicted that the $15 dollar rare had an artificially high value and would drop. Today, it sits at a more reasonable $12.50. I still wouldn’t be surprised if, in two years, I did a third edition of this article and found it had shaved another dollar or two off its value.
Deranged Hermit W: This card was at $8, and I said its value should remain constant, although perhaps losing a buck. Today, it sits at $7.50, perfectly within the realm of my prediction.
Living Death W: I said Living Death’s value would never drop, and although $.50 was shaved off over two years, I consider the new price at $8 to be steady and constant. This thing isn’t going anywhere.
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary L: I said that as players became used to other acceleration, his value would drop in half, and he was at $8.50. Today, he’s at $10, and went in the opposite direction from my prediction. I attribute this in part to the popularity of Legacy today, but still, it was a missed prediction by far. This was my worst prediction.
Sapphire Medallion W: I said its value would keep relatively steady, and it dropped from $8.50 to $7.50, but that is in my range of relatively. If it were a two-buck drop, I’d count it as a L. If you bought four Sapphire Medallions two years ago because I thought the price had hit a plateau, thinking you might as well buy them then, you won’t be upset that they dropped a buck in two years, because their price is still pretty constant. On the other hand, if a card at $4 dropped a buck, that’s a major change….
Tradewind Rider L: … Like here. I said its value had hardened at $5, but that was obviously wrong, because now it sits at $4.
Undermine ? : I predicted that Undermine’s $6 value would drop after it rotated out of Extended. It has risen to $7, but since the condition under which I made my prediction has not happened yet, it cannot be assessed.
Haunting Echoes W: I said its value will never drop, and in fact it went up a buck from $9 to $10. Not bad.
Phage the Untouchable *: Another victim of reprinting, she fell from $10 to $8, which is still a strong value, but I said she would stay firm.
Sneak Attack ? : My claim on Sneak Attack is that it would hold value, and actually rise after a while since no effect would probably ever be printed to duplicate it. The first part of that is true. It was at $15 and it still is at $15. However, it has yet to rise in value, so we have to hold out and see if the card does what I still think it will.
Darksteel Colossus W! : Sitting at $10 over two years ago, I thought it was a good deal, and would rise “slightly.” In fact, it rose 50% to $15 today. That’s a win, but it rose more than I thought, so it’s not a true win, if that makes sense. Its value in casual circles cannot be overstated, and it has a value now exceeding Akroma (which was reprinted, to be fair).
Elvish Piper W: Initially at $7.50, I said that’s its role as a fragile enabler of big creatures was coming to an end in casual circles, and its value would “slide a bit.” It dropped to $6, so that’s a win for me.
Gaea’s Cradle W: I said Wizards would never print a similar card, so its value would remain the same. In fact, it hasn’t even changed a quarter, still charting at $25.
Sliver Queen L: This is my other major miss along with Rofellos. She was at $22.50, and I said she might drop a bit. Instead, we got a block of slivers and then changelings, and now she is at $33.50. I just flat out got this one wrong. I didn’t even put in the “unless they print more slivers “clause like I did with the Overlord, I just missed.
Draco W: I claimed this 16-mana creature would hold its value because it had a unique place in decks. In fact, it has not changed a bit, and still sits at $5.
Rith the Awakener W: I said that Rith would continue to be antiquated by newer dragons, and thus her value would keep dropping from $7. This was said after the bombtastic dragons from Kamigawa block hit the scene. However, that never happened. Her value stopped dropping, because Wizards did not keep antiquating. The Planar Chaos dragons gave us some nice ones, but they also proved that Rith is just a great dragon when compared to her kin. Numerous dragons have been printed since, but she hasn’t been antiquated by them, so her value has held steady.
Rorix Bladewing L: Of my losses, this is the one I don’t get. He was just $6, and he was great for any Red deck, arguably the best dragon ever in mono-Red. His Hastiness was predicted to hold steady, and instead he fell by a third to $4. Frankly, I think that’s a great deal, and you should pick up some for your decks.
Teeka’s Dragon W: Teeka’s Dragon was a card printed in Mirage and had always held a solid value, despite it sucking. I said that its suckitude would finally catch up with it, and it would fall in value. It fell from $6 to $4, finally vindicating my view that this is a lousy card. Frankly, I still think it’s overvalued at $4.
Vampiric Dragon L: I just don’t get why people love this guy so much. I said this overcosted dragon with an alright ability would drop, but he rose a buck from $6 to $7.
Coat of Arms W: I said it would keep its value despite all of the prints, and may rise in value if it stops getting reprinted. It was at $10. Want to know where it is today? Still at $10. It’s even in Tenth, and it doesn’t matter. This rare could get printed until Doomsday, and it would still have a high value.
Ertai, Wizard Adept W? : I admit that my prediction for Ertai was weak, “its value will remain strong.” What does that mean? It rose from $5 to $6, and that is within the purview of my prediction, but frankly it wasn’t much of a prediction to begin with, so I added the ? to the evaluation.
Scroll Rack L: I said Scroll Rack would increase from its $6.50 value as a tool for non-Blue decks and card drawing. Instead, they printed Harmonize for Green, continue to push the Necropotence theme in Black, and reprinted Browbeat. I also think people have forgotten about this jewel, so it fell to $5, which seems like a really good price to me. If I still needed some, I’d be buying them before this article is printed.
Volrath’s Stronghold W: This is another card I said would keep its value, and another card that hasn’t changed a cent in over two years, still charting at $6.
Future Past Predictions
I then investigated cards currently in Standard with a high value that I thought would retain a high value after the rotated out, due to their uniqueness. How did I fare?
Cranial Extraction L: I missed this one, I admit it. It was charting at $20, and I thought it would still keep a good value post rotation as casual players traded and picked them up. Instead, it’s dropped to $6. Ouch. Now, I never expected it to stay at $20, $15 or $12.50 or so would have been within my prediction, but not $6. Now, CE is one of only 11 cards in all of Kamigawa block to still have a value at or above $5, and two of those were reprinted in 10th. Of the remaining 9 cards, many are high because of tournament use, like Threads of Disloyalty. Few casual players are spending 5 bucks for Threads of Disloyalty. Therefore, my prediction was right, in that it didn’t drop completely off the map, but I thought it would be much higher than $6, so I still consider it a loss.
Jester’s Cap ? : I said that the highly reprinted Cap was a classic card that would keep most of its value. It fell from $6.50 to $5. That’s much less than many rares fall, but more than I expected. It’s on the cusp between a win and loss, so I’ll leave it as a ?.
Kokusho, the Evening Star W: Although it fell from $18.50 to $12.50, I said it would remain a high value rare forever because of the casual crowd, and this is still high value, scoring higher than most Standard rares.
Verdant Force *: I predicted it would stay around its $8.50 value, but it fell to $6. How could one of the best fatties of all time fall like that? Continued reprinting, which I did not account for, but again, should go unmentioned in the vein of Phage and Akroma and Reya.
Then I made some predictions about some truly old school cards. Let’s take a look:
Diamond Valley W! : I said this card would actually fall from its value of $75, due in part to overvaluation and in part to the printing of Miren. In fact, I was right, and it fell $15 to $60.
Eureka L*: I lost on this one, no question. I said it would have a high value for as long as Magic was made. Instead, it fell sharply. That surprises me like nothing else. How does that happen? Surely Myojin of Life’s Web and Hypergenesis didn’t do that much damage to this old school favorite, did they?. What happened? I honestly have no idea, and I’m not sure anybody does.
Khabal Ghoul W: I said that its value would drop if the ability were reprinted. It has not been, and the value has remained constant at $25.
So, after all of that, what is my track record from that article?
When I give my new predictions, I’ll allow you to determine if my record is good enough to listen to.
Newest of the New
Today I want to look at cards with a high value currently in Standard. Which of these cards are good enough to keep some value post-rotation because of casual interest?
I did a search for all cards worth at least $10 on SCG and are in Standard. Let’s take a look at some that I think will retain strong value.
Note that by “strong value” I do not mean identical value. If a card drops from $12 to $9, I consider it to have kept its strong value. If it falls to $5, I do not consider that good value retained. Hope that makes sense.
If a card has a high value, and it not on my list, then I do not think it will retain a large casual value (like Sower of Temptation, Ohran Viper, or Cryptic Command) or I do not feel their value will drop because of tournament formats such as Extended and Legacy (like Extirpate, Murmuring Bosk, Tarmogoyf, and Thoughtseize).
Bogardan Hellkite – $10 — I expect this card to remain fairly strong since it has a lot of aspects that appeal to casual player. It’s big, it flies, it’s sneaky, and it’s fun to play. To be fair, a lot of my misses surrounded the dragon creature type, which has members that act oddly at times.
Chameleon Colossus – $17.50 — This card will drop in value before it rotates out, then it will drop again, but not significantly. It’s Johnny-tastic with its changeling ability and Spike-tastic with its 4/4 pro Black ability, and Timmy-tastic with its “I can be THIS big” aspect. That will allow it to retain some value post-rotation (compared to its pre-rotation value, not its current value)
Garruk Wildspeaker – $25 — One thing that could hurt him among casual players is if a lot of planeswalkers get released that are also really good, allowing Garruk to get lost in the shuffle. Otherwise, I expect his value to fall, sure, but not to single digits, ever.
Profane Command – $11 — Everything that Profane Command does other cards do, but combining them all in one package is very appealing to casual players, and it should not fall as much as other Standard rares will.
Troll Ascetic – $12.50 — Sure, it will take a hit post Standard, but it has become a card fond to the hearts of Green mages everywhere, and will keep some serious value as a result.
Since my article, we’ve seen two sets not only get printed, but rotate out of Standard. Are there are any cards in Ravnica block that have a high value because of casual players?
Do you know how many cards in Ravnica block retain a value of $5 or more dollars on SCG? Just 16. Once you pluck out the ten dual lands, currently Standard Birds of Paradise, and tournament cards like Dark Confident and Leyline of the Void, what is left?
Doubling Season – $8 — This is a card with massive casual power. Did you know that Doubling Season is still this high? If not, pull them out of your crap trade binder and put them in the front of your Green section. Doubling Season is so casual friendly that I don’t expect its price to change, barring a new card that does something very similar.
Glimpse the Unthinkable – $8 — Along with Traumatize, this is another obvious high value card for the casual players. Mill ten, for just two mana. That’s a pretty good deal, and I don’t expect to see it fall much.
Loxodon Hierarch – $6 — With a much lower value than it had once when it was in Standard, the casual crowd is picking these up. I would not be surprised to see it drop another buck or so before it is all said and done. It’s good, but it was just outclassed by Chameleon Colossus.
And that’s it. Considering how good the block was, are you surprised to see only 6 non-land rares in the set with a value of $5 or more on SCG? I know I was.
If you are the sort of person who keeps a trade binder, some of this stuff might really help. If you didn’t know that Traumatize was worth the same as Oona’s Prowler, then you might have gotten ripped off in a trade.
Knowing the value of cards with a more casual audience is good for traders, merchants, and casual players trying to find a good deal. I hope that you learned a few things today that you can use.
Remember, although a lot of the article was reviewing the old cards I made predictions for, they also gave the current value. If you hadn’t known Eureka’s value had plummeted, now you do, and it may be the opportunity to pick up a few. Or you may think it’s time to unload your Sliver Queens now that you see how much they’ve jumped in value.