fbpx

Strixhaven Financial Review: Part 1

Ben Bleiweiss delves deeply into the Mystical Archive of Strixhaven, from variant lists and rarity distributions to card-by-card financial analysis.

Time Warp, illustrated by Dominik Mayer

Welcome to Strixhaven preview season!

In this series of articles, I’m going to go over my thoughts for the current and future value of both Strixhaven cards and cards affected by newly revealed Strixhaven cards.  Strixhaven is separated into three different products: the regular set, the Mystical Archive, and the Commander 2021 set. In today’s article, I’m solely going to focus on the Strixhaven Mystical Archive. In my next article, I’ll talk about all of the cards revealed for the set proper, and in my final installment we’re going to take a in-depth look at the cards from the Commander decks.

I believe Strixhaven has more variants for more cards than any previously released set. Wizards of the Coast (WotC) gets into the nitty-gritty of all the different versions of cards in two articles released to the mothership: Collecting Strixhaven and Strixhaven: School of Mages Product Overview.  Even while parsing both of these articles, it’s easy to miss some information. Before we dive into individual cards, let me make clear which versions of cards you can get in which products.

Main Set

Non-Foil

  • Non-foil versions of the main set cards can be found in Draft and Set Boosters.
  • Non-foil basic lands can be found in Set Boosters, Bundles, and Commander decks.
  • Non-foil Extended Art planeswalker and Elder Dragon cards can be found in Collector, Draft, and Set Boosters.
  • Non-foil tokens can be found in Collector and Draft Boosters, and Commander decks.

Foil

  • The foil versions of the main set cards can be found in Draft, Set and Collector Boosters.
  • Foil basic lands can be found in Set Boosters and Bundles.
  • Foil Extended art Planeswalker and Elder Dragon cards can be found in Collector, Draft and Set Boosters.
  • Foil Tokens can only be found in Collector Boosters.

Ancillary Cards

Art Cards

  • Art cards can only be found in Set Boosters. 5% of art cards have stamped autographs.

The List

  • Cards from The List can only be found in Set Boosters. One out of every four packs has a card from The List. The updated cards in The List for Strixhaven can be found here.

Commander Cards

  • Non-foil regular art versions of the 71 of the new cards in Commander 2021 can only be found in Commander decks.
  • Foil regular art versions of ten of the new cards in Commander 2021 can only be found in Commander decks.
  • Extended Art non-foil versions of the new rares and mythics in Commander 2021 can only be found in Collector Boosters.
  • There are no foil Extended Art versions of the new rares/mythics from Commander 2021.

Mystical Archive

  • Global art non-foil versions of Mystical Archive cards can be found in Collector, Draft and Set Boosters.
  • Global art foil versions of Mystical Archive cards can be found in Collector, Draft and Set Boosters.
  • Global art etched foil versions of Mystical Archive cards can only be found in Collector Boosters.

Japanese art non-foil versions of Mystical Archive cards can only be found in Japanese Draft and Set Booster packs. You cannot get non-foil Japanese art Mystical Archive cards from any other sources! Japanese art Mystical Archive cards will replace the Global art Mystical Archive cards 50% of the time in these packs.

Japanese art foil versions of Mystical Archive cards can be found in Japanese Collector, Draft and Set Booster packs. They can also be found in English (or any other language) Collector Booster packs. There are two slots where Japanese art foil Mystical Archive can be found in English Collector Booster packs: slot #3 (might be a rare or mythic) or slot #4 (will be an uncommon, and will be the Japanese variant 50% of the time).

Japanese art etched foil versions of Mystical Archive can only be found in Collector Boosters. In English Collector Boosters, they will be found in either slot #1 or #2. Each English Collector Booster pack will have two etched foil Mystical Archive cards. One will always be Japanese, and one will always be English. One will always be a rare/mythic, and one will always be an uncommon.

So just to be clear on Japanese art etched foil cards in English Collector Booster packs, you will get one of the two following configurations:

  1. English foil etched rare/mythic + Japanese art foil etched uncommon
  2. Japanese art foil etched rare/mythic + English foil etched uncommon

There are a total 63 Mystical Archive cards. Each card has six distinct versions:

  1. Global art, non-foil (English, Chinese Simplified or “Chinese-S”, Chinese Traditional or “Chinese-T”, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish)
  2. Global art, foil (English, Chinese-S, Chinese-T, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish)
  3. Global art, etched foil (English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish)
  4. Japanese art, non-foil (Japanese only)
  5. Japanese art, foil (Japanese only)
  6. Japanese art, etched foil (Japanese only)

Let’s use a concrete example out of what is going to be the most valuable card out of Mystical Archive – Demonic Tutor.

If you wanted one of each version of each treatment for Demonic Tutor, you’d have six cards (Global art non-foil, Global art foil, Global art etched foil, Japanese art non-foil, Japanese art foil, Japanese art etched foil).

If you wanted to go for an absolute complete set of Mystical Archive Demonic Tutor, you’d end up with the following:

  • 11 Global art, non-foil
  • 11 Global art, foil
  • 6 Global art, etched foil
  • 1 Japanese art, non-foil
  • 1 Japanese art, foil
  • 1 Japanese art, etched foil

Total: 31 Demonic Tutors

Multiple this by 63 cards, and a complete global set of all versions of all Mystical Archive cards clocks in at an impressive 1,953 unique cards!

Now this may seem like a lot – and it is! The good news though is that non-foil Mystical Archive cards are going to be plentiful (one per Draft/Set Booster pack), and the price on non-foil Mystical Archive cards will be driven down significantly because there are so many variants out there!

As a baseline, Mike Turian wrote that there are 18 uncommon, 30 rare, and 15 mythic rare Mystical Archive cards. He gave the rarity odds in Draft Boosters as follows.

  • Uncommon: 67%
  • Rare: 26.4%
  • Mythic Rare: 6.6%

If you were to open 1,000 Draft Booster packs, you’d end up with approximately:

  • 670 uncommon Mystical Archive cards (approximately 37.2 of each)
  • 264 rare Mystical Archive cards (approximately 8.8 of each)
  • 66 mythic rare Mystical Archive cards (approximately 4.4 of each)

Contrast this to a typical breakdown from Draft Booster packs. An average Magic set has 80 uncommons, 53 rares, and 15 mythic rares. Strixhaven is a little abnormal because the Lesson slot in packs adds in some number of U/R/M cards, plus there are some double-sided cards and alternate art cards. The thumbnail of 80 U / 53 R / 15 M is close enough on napkin math to compare against Mystical Archive cards, so opening 1,000 Draft Booster packs would give you approximately:

  • 3,000 uncommon cards (approximately 37.5 of each)
  • 876 rare cards (approximately 16.5 of each)
  • 124 mythic rare cards (approximately 8.2 of each)

What we can extrapolate from these pack odds is quite interesting!

  • Uncommon Mystical Archive and uncommon Strixhaven cards appear at the same (effective) rate.
  • Rare Mystical Archive cards appear (about) half as often as rare Strixhaven cards.
  • Mythic rare Mystical Archive cards appear (about) half as often as mythic rare Strixhaven cards.

This means by absolute rarity, there should be no additional financial attachment to a global art, non-foil Mystical Archive uncommon compared to any other uncommon in the Strixhaven set. The only differences are:

  • The specialized art treatment
  • The power level of the spells in question.

Uncommon

All eighteen uncommon Mystical Archive cards are reprints of cards that currently exist in Standard.

  • Adventurous Impulse (IKO common) — $0.15
  • Agonizing Remorse (THB uncommon) — $0.25
  • Claim the Firstborn (ELD uncommon) — $0.49
  • Cultivate (M21 uncommon) —$0.99
  • Defiant Strike (M21 common) — $0.15
  • Divine Gambit (KHM uncommon) — $0.25
  • Duress (M21 common) — $0.15
  • Eliminate (M21 uncommon) — $0.75
  • Infuriate (THB common) — $0.15
  • Negate (ZNR common) — $0.15
  • Opt (M21 and ELD common) — $0.15
  • Revitalize (M21 and KHM common) — $0.15
  • Shock (M21 common) — $0.15
  • Snakeskin Veil (KHM common) — $0.15
  • Strategic Planning (KHM common) — $0.15
  • Thrill of Possibility (M21, THB, and ELD common) — $0.15
  • Village Rites (M21 and KHM common) — $0.25
  • Whirlwind Denial (THB uncommon) — $0.25

I expect the baseline price for all of these cards will be $0.49 for the non-foil global art versions, with only the following rising above that value:

  • Cultivate: $1.50-$2.00. The M21 borderless Cultivate is the closest comparison point to this card, and it is at $3.
  • Duress: $1. Multi-format all-star, not many blinged out versions for people to play in their decks as of now.
  • Eliminate: $1-$1.50. The M21 version is at $0.75, and this one has a much better artwork treatment.
  • Negate: $1. Previous versions are common (this one is uncommon), and it has a ton of interest across formats.
  • Opt: $1. Another card like Negate that has previous versions at common (this one is uncommon), and is also played in multiple formats.
  • Shock: $1. This is actually the first fancy treatment of Shock since it was an FNM foil back in July of 2000!
  • Village Rites:  $1. Before getting reprinted in Kaldheim, the M21 version of Village Rites was hitting $1 due to tournament play (as a common). No reason to think this version won’t also hit $1.

I’m going to touch on all the other versions in a future article (Global art foil/foil etched, and all three Japanese art treatment versions). Right now there isn’t enough data to go on, other than to say that my gut is telling me the value of cards is going to be all over the place.

For instance, people are really, really going to want the Japanese Art version of Demonic Tutor. The only way to get the non-foil version of this artwork is from Japanese language set and collector boosters. Pop quiz: which will be worth more? A non-foil Japanese art Demonic Tutor or a foil Global art Demonic Tutor?

Thankfully, we have a previous experience to work with! WotC did a nearly identical distribution of cards for the Japanese Art War of the Spark planeswalkers! Like the Mystical Archive cards, they appeared in 50% of the Japanese packs (50% chance of Global art, 50% chance of Japanese art). The main difference is that there were no Collector Boosters for War of the Spark, so the only way you could get Japanese artwork planeswalkers was from Japanese product. Again – in Strixhaven, foil and etched foil Japanese art Mystical Archive cards will appear in Collector Boosters of all languages.

Let’s look at the most popular planeswalker in War of the Spark — Liliana, Dreadhorde General.

  • Global art, non-foil: $30
  • Global art, foil: $40
  • Japanese art, non-foil: $150
  • Japanese art, foil: $2,000

That isn’t to say that the Japanese art foil Demonic Tutor is going to be worth 66x as much as the Global art non-foil version of Demonic Tutor! For one, it took Liliana, Dreadhorde General over a year and a half to get to that price. Secondly, there will be a lot more foil Japanese art Demonic Tutor cards than Japanese art Liliana, Dreadhorde General cards due to the extra copies being distributed via Collector Packs. Third of all, there is yet another variant (etched foil) to compete with the regular foil version!

What this will demonstrate is that on a card like Demonic Tutor, the Japanese art non-foil version is going to be worth more than the Global art non-foil and foil versions, and potentially more than the etched foil Global art version!

I also want to compare this to the recent release of Time Spiral Remastered. If you recall, the drop rates on foil timeshifted cards is one every 27 packs, so you’d need to open 3267 packs (90.75 boxes) in order to get one of each foil Timeshifted card.

Since you have a 50/50 shot of getting a Japanese art Mystical Archive card in a Japanese Draft/Set booster pack, you’d need to open 455 packs (12.6 boxes) to get one of each card. This would yield (approximately):

  • 305 uncommon Mystical Archive cards (153 Japanese art, 152 Global art)
  • 120 rare Mystical Archive cards (60 Japanese art, 60 Global art)
  • 30 mythic rare Mystical Archive cards (15 Japanese art, 15 Global art)

Of course there’s random chance that comes into account, so it’s unlikely that you would get exactly these numbers. Going by the print sheets though, this is how the math looks. This makes foil timeshifted cards slightly more than seven times as rare as Japanese art non-foil Mystical Archive cards.

We do not have odds on foil Mystical Archive cards yet, so I don’t want to guess on the drop rate for each foil version will be (regular or etched). We know that the Japanese art versions appear at a 50/50 clip in Japanese Draft/Set boosters, and that they appear up to twice in global-language Collector Boosters (and up to four times in Japanese Collector Boosters). This will affect their availability, leaning more heavily towards “more available than less.”

Rare

Abundant Harvest: $4

A preview card from Modern Horizons 2. Will have an extra value now because it’s the only way to get this card for Commander/Legacy/Vintage play. Will probably drop once the “real” version comes out in a couple of months.

Brainstorm: $8

If only there weren’t so many interesting versions of Brainstorm released in a short period of time! This has to compete with the Double Masters borderless version, and (to a lesser degree) the Signature Spellbook: Jace version. If the Double Masters version didn’t exist, this would be $10+. Having both versions so close to each other will depreciate the value of the Mystical Archive version.

Compulsive Research: $1.50

If we consider bulk price on Mystical Archive rares to be $1, I expect this to be a bulk rare. The big question is, will rare Mystical Archive cards bottom out at $0.49 like every other bulk rare post-release, or will people remember they’re twice as rare as normal rares? I think personally we’ll see some of the worse Mystical Archive Global Art non-foil cards hitting $0.49 after release when there’s a race to the bottom. This one will be one of those, since the regular versions of this card from other sets are at $0.25.

Counterspell: $6

Like Brainstorm, this has to compete with an extended-art version that came out very recently (Commander Legends for Counterspell). Unlike Brainstorm, this is the first time in a while Counterspell has gotten a new artwork (not since Amonkhet Invocations). I think this one has some room to grow, because the artwork is going to appeal to a lot of players.

Dark Ritual: $6

Everything I said for Counterspell goes the same for Dark Ritual, except the competing newest bling version was a Japanese foil magazine insert using the Urza’s Saga artwork. Counterspell is a lot more ubiquitous than Dark Ritual for Commander play, so I expect this one to stay around this price for a while.

Despark: $1.50

Should hover in the $1-$1.50 range, compared to the $0.50 for the War of the Spark version proper.

Doom Blade: $1.50

Doom Blade has a previous interesting art treatment (Player Rewards), but that exact card has been reprinted on The List for a while, driving down the price from $5 to $3. I think at $1.50 this has room to go up, but I wouldn’t see it getting much higher short-term than $2.

Electrolyze: $3

The previous interesting versions of Electrolyze were the IDW Comics promo ($3) and the Full Art State Championship version ($10). I think this will have a much higher print run than the IDW version, and regular versions of Electrolyze are normally in the $0.50 range. I think this one will drop to the $1.50-$2 range.

Ephemerate: $2

This should drop to $1. It’s only slightly above bulk price because it was only printed once properly (in Modern Horizons).

Faithless Looting: $3

The IDW version is at $5, and most previous versions are at $0.50-$1. The artwork on this version of Faithless Looting is highly divisive. I think that will hurt the value, and this is one I expect to see a large gulf in value between the Global art version and the Japanese art version.

Gift of Estates: $4

Previous uncommon printings of Gift of Estates are in the $2 range, with the Portal version (the original, at rare!) at $11.

Gods Willing: $1.50

Another card that will go down to the bulk range.

Grapeshot: $3

This is the first fancy version of Grapeshot ever printed. This will help it maintain value over the longer term (at least until a fancier version shows up!).

Growth Spiral: $3

The regular version still commands a $0.49 price tag, which is unheard-of for a banned common printed in a Standard-legal set! $3 doesn’t seem unreasonable given the FNM foil version is $4.

Harmonize: $3

Competing with the textless Player Reward version, which sits at $5 (or $3 for The List reprint version). Seems reasonable that this card that is normally printed at uncommon would be a $3 rare given the other price history.

Inquisition of Kozilek: $7

Originally printed as an uncommon in Rise of the Eldrazi and Modern Masters 2017, but reprinted as a rare in Conspiracy: Take the Crown. All other versions of this card are at $5, so it seems reasonable that the first fancy frame treatment of Inquisition of Kozilek is slightly higher.

Krosan Grip: $4

Most other versions of Krosan Grip are at $2-$3, as an uncommon. I think that this version has the potential to go up slightly (to $5),for the same reasons that Harmonize/Inquisition of Kozilek are slightly higher now that they are rare versus uncommon.

Lightning Bolt: $8

There’s always a market for alternate versions of Lightning Bolt. There was an entire Secret Lair drop dedicated to the card! There’s also the Player Rewards version, a Judge foil, a MagicFest promo, in addition to all the other printings of Lightning Bolt.  With all that said, this one should stay in the $8-$10 range just like the other promotional versions of Bolt printed over the past couple of years.

Lightning Helix: $4

Lightning Helix has been reprinted into oblivion, but as an uncommon. The closest comparison to it as a rare is the Player Rewards version ($10). I think that Helix will actually go down a bit (to $2.50-$3), but will recover in the coming months as the supply dries up.

Mana Tithe: $2.50

Just reprinted in Time Spiral Remastered, Mana Tithe is a common that still goes for a respectable $0.50-$1. The textless Player Rewards version (I seem to be saying this a lot for these cards!) goes for $6. I think this has a little room to grow, but will likely stay in the $2-$3 range.

Memory Lapse: $1.50

Currently undervalued, but only by a little. The previous promo version (an early Judge foil) goes for $15. That foil version sat at $2-$3 for years before finally going up in price due to age. I think that this version will hit the $2-$2.50 range.

Putrefy: $1.50

The Player Rewards Putrefy is at $4. This probably should be at $2, but has also been reprinted so, so many times.

Regrowth: $2.50

This is the first fancy version of Regrowth printed. There was a Judge foil back in 2005, but it used the Alpha/Beta/Unlimited/Revised artwork. I think this one will go down to $2 with the race to the bottom on the coming weeks, but has a very strong chance of recovering and thriving.

Sign in Blood: $1

The Player Rewards Sign in Blood is $9. I think that this version has room to grow to $2. I don’t think it’ll go much past that though, since the regular version of Sign in Blood has been reprinted more than ten times.

Stone Rain: $3

Stone Rain is another card that does not have any fancy alternate art versions prior to this printing. The closest you can get was the Portal: Three Kingdoms version that sells for $7, or a foil FNM version (with the Alpha artwork) that sells for $20. Stone Rain has a nostalgic pedigree going back to Alpha.

Swords to Plowshares: $6

This matches the price of the Commander Legends extended art treatment Swords to Plowshares just got a few months ago. Based on the artwork on this one, I believe it will be more desirable. It will also be easier to get, which leads it to the current $6 price tag.

Tendrils of Agony: $5

The only previous fancy version of Tendrils of Agony was an FNM foil ($12), which had a normal border. This is going to be a very desired version of the card, as Tendrils is still a very popular card in Eternal formats.

Tezzeret’s Gambit: $2

Probably will drop to the $1-$1.50 range.

Urza’s Rage: $1

This used to be one of the most popular/powerful cards in Standard (circa Invasion block). How the times have changed! Urza’s Rage is not a very popular card anymore, and it’s one of the few Mystical Archive rares to start at bulk pricing. It’ll stay there.

Weather the Storm: $2

This is one of the odder choices for the Mystical Archive. This sees limited play as a sideboard card in competitive Magic and more play in Commander as an extremely efficient life gain card (lots of spells being slung around!).  $2 sounds about right.

Mythic Rare

Approach of the Second Sun: $4

The rare version of Approach sells for $1 (Amonkhet). I think that a 2x-3x kicker is probably more appropriate for a card like this, versus a 4x kicker. I think that this one will drop to the $2-$3 range, accordingly. Remember – it has to compete with foil, etched foil, Japanese art, Japanese art foil, and Japanese art etched foil versions!

Blue Sun’s Zenith: $6

Regular versions of Blue Sun’s Zenith sell briskly at $3-$3.50. Putting this one at $6 seems about right (that 2x kicker I was talking about from Approach of the Second Sun).

Channel: $2

It really pains me that Channel is this cheap. The fact though is that the older versions of Channel are hovering around bulk (Revised/4th Edition versions at $0.25-$0.49). The Iconic Masters version (at mythic rare) is only at $1 and is a slow seller. I’d love to say this version will be worth more, but see Approach of the Second Sun! If someone is looking to really bling out their Channel, they’re going with one of the Japanese art versions or the Global art etched foil, and not this version.

Chaos Warp: $4

Most versions of Chaos Warp are at $3. This version is probably a little underpriced at $4 right now (using that 2x kicker for the previous cards) and will probably land more in the $5-$6 range.

Crux of Fate: $4

Older versions of Crux of Fate are at $2-$2.50, so the $4 price tag falls within that 2x price kicker on the other versions.

Day of Judgment: $7

All of the older versions of Day of Judgment are currently at $4, and are all solid sellers. $7 puts it within that 2x kicker, and it also is comparable to two promotional versions (Buy-a-Box and Player Rewards textless foil).

Demonic Tutor: $50

In the end, Demonic Tutor is going to be the most valuable Mystical Archive card in this set. It doesn’t matter that other cards are starting higher (Tainted Pact / Teferi’s Protection). What matters is that Demonic Tutor has been reprinted multiple times in recent years (Ultimate Masters, Mystery Booster), and has yet to hit a snag in price. Those versions are all $60 and we can’t keep them in stock.

This is the blue-chip stock for the set. There may be a temporary blip in price as there’s a large influx of supply once the set is first released, but I think this going back up to $50 (and staying there, or going up from there) is as much of a sure thing as there is for Strixhaven.

Increasing Vengeance: $2.50

An odd card to put in this set, and one that will probably drop to $2 (like Channel).

Mind’s Desire: $5

I think Mind’s Desire will hold value for the same reasons that Tendrils will hold value — there are Storm players who just love playing with the card. Unfortunately, Mind’s Desire is banned in Legacy (Tendrils is not), which will affect the value of this individual card. Still, it’s the first alternate frame treatment for this card ever, so there will be a real demand for people to trade out their Scourge / From The Vault versions for this version. I see the Global art version dropping to the $3 range, but I think the fancier versions will have a higher-than-average multiplier against that version.

Mizzix’s Mastery: $8

The main demand for this card is the short printing. It’s only been in Commander 2015 and Mystery Boosters. This is one of the only two cards in the Mystical Archive has a base price propped up in large part by genuine scarcity. That’s why I’m reluctant to say that it will go up in value. I think this might be a case where the older versions drop slightly (from $5 to $4), and this one will follow.

Natural Order: $20

We started this card at $25, but have already dropped it to $20. Natural Order is one of those cards that hasn’t been reprinted in a long time (Eternal Masters), and it dropped precipitously in price during that reprint. It then rebounded over time because Natural Order is a green staple. This will probably drop a little bit more (maybe as low as $12-$15), but has a very good chance of hitting the $20-$30 range once Strixhaven supplies start drying up.

Primal Command: $4

A card that just falls in the 2x kicker range for previous versions (which are in the $1.50-$2.50 range).

Tainted Pact: $20

The other half of the duo of “price based on scarcity” to Mizzix’s Mastery. Tainted Pact was at $90 prior to this reprint. Comparatively, Grim Tutor (Starter 1999) was at $300 (now at $125) before it got reprinted in Core Set 2021 (now at $20). Tainted Pact is probably going to follow a very similar trajectory. Odyssey isn’t a super-rare set, but Tainted Pact is extremely popular as a Commander tutor. I think the Odyssey version will plummet (down to the $40-$50 range). Unlike Demonic Tutor, Tainted Pact does not have a price history that can sustain a large-scale reprint.

Teferi’s Protection: $50

We started this at $60, but have dropped it to $50 to match the other versions (Secret Lair, Commander 2017, and Mystery Booster). This is probably the widest release Teferi’s Protection yet (even as a mythic rare in Mystical Archive). So far the card has shown price resiliency to being reprinted, but I think that this printing will finally be the one that causes Teferi’s Protection to trend downwards (if only temporarily).

Time Warp: $30

This is the first special frame version of Time Warp. The previous promo version (a Judge foil) is at $200. Other versions of Time Warp range between $20 and $25. I think that this is a card that will probably drop some in value short term (to the $20-$25 range of other versions of Time Warp), but will recover very quickly as the initial supply of Strixhaven singles dries up.

I know I said I was going to focus on Mystical Archive cards in this article, but I want to touch on one card that has spiked tremendously due to Strixhaven. That card is Chain of Smog.

When Professor Onyx got previewed, people immediately started grabbing all copies of Chain of Smog they could find. Chain of Smog plus Professor Onyx equals a two-card combo kill.

  • You target yourself with Chain of Smog with Professor Onyx on the battlefield.
  • You repeat it an infinite number of times.

The magecraft trigger from Professor Onyx goes off for each time you copied Chain of Smog, killing your opponent(s) dead for infinite damage.

Now it wasn’t solely the printing of Professor Onyx that caused Chain of Smog to go berserk in price. As many people pointed out, Ral, Storm Conduit from War of the Spark was already a two-card combo kill with Chain of Smog. It also costs two less mana than Professor Onyx (though Professor Onyx keeps the combo in mono-black)

No, what caused Chain of Smog go from a bulk $0.25 card to a $10-$15 card overnight was the magecraft keyworded ability. It looked as if Professor Onyx would not be the only card with this ability. People banked that there would be cheaper cards with magecraft that were able to kill an opponent.

Sure enough, Witherbloom Apprentice hit the preview circuit this past Thursday. At two mana, this was a smaller version of Professor Onyx that was no less lethal with Chain of Smog. This will get people brewing the deck in Legacy at the least. Black already can run a suite of cards to push through a combo deck (Unmask, Duress, Thoughtseize). In addition, Black can use Lotus Petal, Mox Diamond, and Dark Ritual to get this combo off on the first turn. Right now the biggest wait it to see if there is an even cheaper kill card (for instance, “B: ping opponent for 1 life”), or one that doesn’t necessarily make the deck dip into green (blue or white would be better for protecting the combo).

Long-term, I don’t see Chain of Smog staying at $10-$15. One of two things will happen:

  1. The deck doesn’t work well enough (at the power level of Painter’s Servant / Grindstone).
  2. The deck works too well, and Chain of Smog gets banned in Legacy.

In either circumstance, the value of Chain of Smog will go down. It’ll still be played in Commander (so many cards it can combo with!). It just won’t have the competitive players driving the price as they are right now.

In addition, people bought out hundreds of copies of Chain of Smog over the past week. These are all going to find their way back on to the market and the price will start coming down.  My gut is saying that this Chain of Smog will drop to the $5-$7 range by the time Strixhaven releases, and will settle long-term in the $2-$3 range.

Next week: All the cards in Strixhaven proper!