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Strixhaven Financial Review: Part 2

What’s the chase rare of Strixhaven? Will any common foils go through the roof? Ben Bleiweiss answers these finance questions and many more.

Mila, Crafty Companion, illustrated by Yongjae Choi

Welcome to Part 2 of my Strixhaven Financial Review! In Part 1 of my Strixhaven Financial Review, we went over the values of the Mystical Archive in Strixhaven. Today, we’re going to look at the value of cards in Strixhaven proper. As a reminder, we’ll spend the third (and final) week of my financial review going over the cards unique to Strixhaven Commander (Commander 2021). I might also have parting thoughts about the set in general.

I’m going to separate the set into rarities and discuss any cards I feel will be above bulk price. For commons and uncommons, this means $0.49 or higher (non-foil). For rares, it’ll be cards I expect to be $1.99 and up. Lastly, I’ll discuss all mythic rares!

Common

There are no commons in this set that are going to be above bulk value for the foreseeable future. Because of the proliferation of foil cards due to Collector Boosters, I also think there are few foil versions of cards that will pull a premium even in foil!  For the sake of completeness, here are a list of cards where I feel the foil version may hit one dollar.

This space left intentionally blank.

Note to Cedric: I actually want the words “This space left intentionally blank” left in, along with this note.

I cannot stress enough how the mass glut of foil common and uncommon cards in Collector Boosters has tanked the value of foil common and uncommon cards from recent sets.

Uncommon

Clever Lumimancer (Non-Foil $0.49, Foil $2+)

An extremely aggressive creature that reminds me of a cross between Steppe Lynx and Monastery Swiftspear. Having what is essentially double prowess makes for a magecraft ability that can lead to Turn 3 or 4 kills in Eternal formats. Clever Luminancer backed with a bunch of one-mana burn spells is the way.

Emergent Sequence (Foil $1+)

Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has generally phased out two-mana Rampant Growth effects for Standard. The compromise here is a ramp spell that hits early but is easier to kill than just a land. Still, two-mana acceleration is two-mana acceleration, and I sure this card is going to be played in both Standard and Commander.

Expressive Iteration (Foil $1+)

Divination at times has been playable in Standard. Expressive Iteration is a Divination that digs one card deeper and costs one mana less. Yes, you end up with one less net card in hand but you do get to immediately play the land from Iteration (assuming you haven’t already made a land drop that turn). It’s priced aggressively enough that this will see play.

Fracture (Foil $1+)

Effectively a Disenchant that can incidentally hit planeswalkers. Will be a staple spell in Commander. It’s efficient in what it does, but what it does isn’t very exciting.

Reduce to Memory (Foil $1+)

An extremely solid removal spell for Commander, and probably one of the best pieces of outright removal for white in that format. The fact that it is a Lesson will give it a chance in Standard as well.

Rip Apart (Non-Foil $0.49, Foil $2+)

Rip Apart may be one of the most efficient removal spells ever printed. At two mana, it can kill most early-game creatures and put a serious dent into any planeswalker. It also doubles as a Disenchant / Naturalize, which is a huge piece of versatility to tack onto a piece of creature removal. This takes Abrade to the next level. While Rip Apart is a sorcery, it’s so versatile that it’s going to be an auto-include in most Commander decks that run Boros colors. It’ll also get play in Standard and Pioneer as well.

Solve the Equation (Non-Foil $0.49, Foil $2+)

Fabricate for sorceries and instants. An immediate staple for Commander and an intriguing substitution for a (lack of) Cunning Wish in Modern and Pioneer. This is only one more mana than Merchant Scroll and gives you access to twice as many card types. I know High Tide decks aren’t a thing right now in Legacy, but I can’t help but wonder if this would fit into that deck in a Cunning Wish, Intuition, or Meditate slot (allows you to grab Time Spiral).

Test of Talents (Foil $1+)

The effect on the card Quash is extraordinarily powerful against most combo decks. The only issue with Quash is that at four mana, you’re slower than most combo decks in whatever format you’re playing. Test of Talents is the new Quash and is going to be an evergreen sideboard card in some of the older formats. Taking out all of your opponent’s Force of Wills is also a bonus this spell has in older formats.

Witherbloom Apprentice (Foil $1+)

I mentioned that Chain of Smog would combo with the magecraft mechanic in last week’s article. I also speculated that if there were a one- or two-drop creature in Strixhaven, that would cause Chain of Smog to maintain value (for now) and make the deck at least viable to be built.  Here’s that two-drop kill with Chain!

Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy (Foil $1+)

People have compared Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy with Thrasios, Triton Hero. This is not a fair comparison. Thrasios is slower to get started, but can chain after land after land once it gets going. Zimone is much, much better in the early-game, as she can start putting you ahead of your opponent on lands as soon as Turn 3. I think Zimone has a very bright future in Commander. I also think there’s a chance that once Throne of Eldraine rotates, Zimone might be the key to winning a grindy control-on-control match.

Rare

Academic Probation: $2.50

One of the more useful Lessons in this set. Academic Probation can stop any opposing nonland permanent for a full turn, including planeswalkers. Used in this way, it’s basically the detain mechanic from Return to Ravnica. I’d compare it to Inaction Injunction, but instead of drawing a card for the effect on the back end, you’re getting the Academic Probation as the card you drew on the front end.

The second ability, preventing an opponent from casting a specifically named spell for a turn, is one typically used by combo decks the turn they’ll go off. There are many better options than Academic Probation (Silence, Orim’s Chant, Grand Abolisher, Meddling Mage). I think this will end up in the bulk range ($1) post-set release.

Accomplished Alchemist: $2

Accomplished Alchemist has many factors that will lead to it being a popular Commander card. It’s both an Elf and a Druid, and those tribes matter. It taps to add one mana at the worst, and can tap for a ton of mana in a deck that has any lifegain subtheme. Popular Elves with lifegain baked in include (but are not limited to):

Deathrite Shaman Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen Essence Warden Izoni, Thousand-Eyed Oracle of Nectars Rhys the Exiled Savra, Queen of the Golgari Selvala, Explorer Returned Wellwisher

And I think anyone who plays Commander knows how powerful Tatyova, Benthic Druid is in a Druid deck.

Augmenter Pugilist // Echoing Equation: $2

Sealed draft/set booster boxes of Strixhaven are selling for around $105-$110 right now. If you add up all the Mystical Archive cards and the cards in Strixhaven proper together and then divide by their chance of appearing, the current expected value of an opened box of Strixhaven is around $170-$180. This does not include foil cards or any extra cards included in set boosters (The List, art cards, etc).

When the expected value of an opened box is that high, one of two things will happen:

  1. The box price will start to rise and sell out (Demand > Supply).
  2. The price of singles will start to depreciate as people open an increasing amount of boxes to sell singles (Supply > Demand).

Keeping in mind that stores have definite labor costs involved in opening boxes (opening packs, sorting singles, filing singles in inventory, etc.), so it’s not a straight “Box costs $110, you should also get $110 from opening a box” even at the retailer level. There’s standard deviation on opening a box. You might be really lucky or really unlucky with a small sample size. That said, a split of $110 against $180 means that either box prices are going up or singles prices are going down.

In the case of Strixhaven, we’re in a definite #2 situation. There’ll be enough boxes available that any given retailer (or player) will be able to get what they want without the set selling through. There may be some hiccups the first couple of weeks (due to production issues WotC outlined recently), but this isn’t like Time Spiral Remastered where the demand was higher than supply.

I say this, because in the case of cards needing to depreciate, usually the fringe playables start taking the hit first, rather than the chase cards of the set. Augmenter Pugilist is that type of card. In a more limited release of product, it might hold value. There’ll be enough Strixhaven opened just for Mystical Archives that cards like the Pugilist are going to be bulk rares. I expect cards like this to drop to the $1 range.

Baleful Mastery: $3

Baleful Mastery is an extremely solid removal spell that will slot into multiple decks in multiple formats as a two-mana instant that can remove a creature or planeswalker without question. I’d compare it to cards like Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile: splashable, cheap removal that gives the opponent an upside to casting it.  This is one of the cards in the set that I feel will hold value, because it is universally useful.

Conspiracy Theorist: $2

Conspiracy Theorist is extraordinarily powerful and currently being undervalued. Forget the first ability — it doesn’t matter if you never attack with Conspiracy Theorist. It’s the second ability that matters — the ability to give every card in your hand an improved version of madness. As long as you discard cards one at a time, you can still discard multiple cards a turn and get Conspiracy Theorist to affect multiple cards a turn. While you can’t play lands (Conspiracy Theorist says cast, not play), you still can still do some pretty ridiculous things with Conspiracy Theorist. This includes, but is not limited to, amazing card advantage with Harnfel, Horn of Bounty; getting two cards a turn with Anvil of Bogardan; crazy artifact tricks with Artificer’s Intuition; removing parity with Liliana of the Veil; and turning Merchant of the Vale into an effective draw-two spell via Haggle.

Culling Ritual: $3

Great for multiplayer games, but more limited for Constructed competitive Magic. I think Culling Ritual will be in the $1 range, which is in line with spells like Languish, Kaya’s Wrath, Ritual of Soot, and Shatter the Sky.

Double Major: $4

Double Major can only target creature spells on the stack, not creatures that are already on the battlefield. Further, it can only target your own creature spell. I think a lot of people think this is a cheap Clone effect when in fact it’s a Fork effect for creatures. I expect this to drop pretty precipitously after release to the $1 range.

Elite Spellbinder: $4

This is white’s version of Mesmeric Fiend or Vendilion Clique. Taxing a card out of an opponent’s hand on an aggressive body (three-power flyer) is going to be really good for Standard. The fact that killing Elite Spellbinder doesn’t return the card to the opponent’s hand is a huge bonus. This is a really solid creature, and one that will make an impact in older formats as well.

The Snarls: $3

The completion of the cycle of lands introduced in Shadows over Innistrad. Those were $2-$4 each when in Standard, and these should be in that price range as well. The ones in colors seeing more play in Standard will be higher, and the ones in colors seeing less play in Standard will be lower.  Unfortunately, this cycle isn’t really good enough to be very popular in either Commander or older formats, so the $2-$3 range is the long-term ceiling on these cards.

Ingenious Mastery: $2

Paying three mana to draw three cards is well above rate for any color these days, much less just blue. Giving your opponent two Treasure tokens and allowing them to scry 2 is a huge drawback to casting this card. If you’re playing a combo deck, you’re letting your opponent have access to extra mana (and card selection) to stop you. If you’re playing control, you’re giving your opponent more of a chance to bash your face in the next turn. I think the drawback is too steep and this will end up in the bulk bins.

Multiple Choice: $3

If Multiple Choice were an instant, I feel it would be one of the stars of this set. As a sorcery, it’s a little bit more limited in scope. Paying five mana to scry and draw one / bounce / make a 4/4 is nice, but the 4/4 doesn’t fly, the opponent chooses which creature they bounce, and it’s nice to turn that into a cantrip. I think Multiple Choice is going to fall victim to the depreciation of playable (but not superstar) rares in this set, and will end up in the $1.50-$2 range.

Oriq Loremage: $2

While being able to repeatedly tutor straight to your graveyard (Entomb) is really interesting, I also feel that the effect is niche enough that this will end up being a bulk rare. There are decks that would want this effect, but this is more of a “put into preexisting decks” type card than a “build new decks around me” card. See cards like Muldrotha, the Gravetide.

Prismari Command: $3

The Command cycle in this set is less powerful than either the Lorwyn or Dragons of Tarkir cycle of Commands. Prismari Command is the best of them, and is likely the only one that will end up going toe-to-toe with previously printed Commands.

The closest comparison I would have is to Kolaghan’s Command. Both that Command and Prismari Command are three-mana instants that deal two damage to a target (creature / player for Kolaghan’s, any target for Prismari Command). Both have a mode of destroy target artifact. The two other modes are:

  • Raise Dead (Kolaghan’s) versus draw two / discard two (Prismari)
  • Force a discard (Kolaghan’s) versus creature a Treasure token (Prismari)

Kolaghan’s Command is a $7 card, but from a set that was opened in much smaller numbers than Strixhaven is going to be. Given how similar the two cards are, I think it’s safe to think Prismari Command will maintain some premium over bulk. I don’t think the current $3 price tag is unreasonable long-term.

Rushed Rebirth: $2

Rushed Rebirth is  a strong tutoring effect. You can target any creature (even opposing creatures) and get your tutor on for free. In Commander in particular, there are many times when this is going to hit a high-value creature in combat outside your own territory, letting you get any creature you want from your deck. It’ll leave you with the only creature on the battlefield (potentially) after a sweeper. I also think Rushed Rebirth has fewer applications in competitive Constructed because you actively have to make sure you’re killing something (or something is dying), and it’s reliant on the other creatures you’re playing in your deck. In the short term, I think this will drop since there’s a healthy supply entering the market at once. In the long term, I think this is one of the cards in the set that is going to have value.

Silverquill Silencer: $3

Orzhov (or is it Silverquill now?) gets their own Meddling Mage. This one comes with better base stats — one more power — but doesn’t outright restrict opponents from casting a spell. Still, hitting the opponent for three life and a card is not insignificant! In addition, there’s a very good chance that Clerics are going to be a pushed tribe in Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, so this is positioned to be a key part of that deck in Standard come July.

Strict Proctor: $3

Strict Proctor can be used both offensively and defensively. The way the card is worded, you can play cards like Phyrexian Dreadnought / Lotus Field and counter your own trigger, leaving you with a 12/12 trampler or a three-mana producing land at no additional cost. Strict Proctor can also gum up the works for opposing decks in Commander pretty significantly. Is this better than other hatebears that have been printed over the years? The three toughness doesn’t hurt! This will probably be in the $1.50-$2 range, but I think will be a sought-after card over time.

Valentin, Dean of the Vein // Lisette, Dean of the Root: $2

Let’s talk about the Lisette side of the card first. This is one of the strongest payoffs to a Soul Warden / Essence Warden-style deck. While it doesn’t give you free pumps like Ajani’s Pridemate, it does pump every creature you have (including itself) and gives everyone trample (which is an ability many creatures in that deck lack). Is four mana too much to pay in that deck? It would certainly be at the top of the curve, but we’ve also seen Archangel of Thune get played in that deck, so it’s not out of the question.

Valentin, Dean of the Vein is one of the best one-drop Vampire cards ever printed. I’d compare it closest to Guul Draz Vampire, which was certainly a player in aggressive Vampire decks when Zendikar came out. Built-in evasion and lifelink from the start is great, and the ability to blank your opponent’s graveyard on creatures is huge as well. This is essentially a limited Planar Void on a creature, with the bonus of gaining life, and occasionally making 1/1 Pests.

Vanishing Verse: $4

This is an extremely efficient removal spell. It won’t hit colorless artifacts and Eldrazi, but it will kill the majority of the most-played cards in multiple formats. At two mana and with exile built in, Vanishing Verse is going to be played in a lot of places (both casually and competitively).

Venerable Warsinger: $2

Trample helps Venerable Warsinger connect, but my thoughts are that this is another card that will end up in the $0.50-$1 range because of the need for the total value of an opened box of Strixhaven to equalize closer to cost.

Wandering Archaic // Explore the Vastlands: $8

Wandering Archaic didn’t need a flip side at all. I don’t care that it does have a flip side. This is the most “sure-thing” card in Strixhaven. When Ravnica Allegiance came out, I told Sheldon Menery that Smothering Tithe was not only the best Commander card in the set, but was probably one of the Top 10 white cards ever printed for Commander.  While Wandering Archaic isn’t one of the Top 10 printed colorless cards ever in Commander, it’s very close to an auto-include in any possible Commander deck you could build.  Check out the prices of Smothering Tithe ($35) and Rhystic Study ($40 as a common) to see where the same effect for instants/sorceries will end up in the long run.

I can’t state this strongly enough – Wandering Archaic, long-term, is going to be the most valuable card out of Strixhaven proper. There may be a small rush to the bottom right after release (Smothering Tithe had the same thing), but I would not let these go, and I would buy into it now if you wanted to play with it.

Witherbloom Command: $2.50

A solid Command but one that is hampered by being a sorcery. None of the modes are particularly powerful on their own, so I think Witherbloom Command will probably wither down to the $1-$1.50 range.

Mythic Rare

Beledros Witherbloom: $8

I’ve seen Beledros for presale at nearly twice this price in other places. I think that Beledros has virtually no chance of seeing play in Standard. In Commander, I understand that paying ten life for an effect is less of a thing. Still, at seven mana, you’re looking at this being a lot later in the game than other effects that let you untap your lands. I think that this will end up settling in the $4-$5 range right after release. Remembe: Strixhaven is going to be a lot more widely opened than Dragons of Tarkir, so don’t expect to see as high prices on these Elder Dragons across the board as the Elder Dragons from that set.

Blex, Vexing Pest // Search for Blex: $5

The front side of Blex is an interesting lord for a bunch of tribes that typically don’t get lords. On that end, it’s fairly unexciting. On the flip side, Search for Blex is basically a one-shot Sylvan Library that digs down five cards. I do think that there’s a place in both Commander for a four-mana draw-five, lose-fifteen, and in Constructed for a ‘pick two of the top five, lose six, put the rest in your graveyard.’ I don’t think there’s $5 worth of use for it though, and I expect Blex to be in the $3-$4 range post-release.

Blot Out the Sky: $6

At three mana, you end up with a tapped 2/1 flying creature. This is a bad rate against what you’d normally expect to get at three mana in either of these colors. Four mana for four power and two toughness worth of creatures is getting slightly better, and five mana for six and three is about on rate…if the creatures had another ability other than flying.
The reason people would play Blot Out the Sky is the dream of hitting eight mana. At that point, you get twelve power and six toughness worth of flyers, and kill all nonland, noncreature cards.

Unfortunately, you really, really want to be killing all creatures once you hit eight mana. This includes formats like Commander. I think this is a card that will end up in the $2-$3 range post-release.

Body of Research: $6

Body of Research has been compared to the Unstable card Animate Library. Body is a much better card because it puts +1/+1 counters on a creature. Ordinarily making a token creature would be a drawback versus enchanting a creature into existence. In this case, there are decks that can make immense use of that many +1/+1 counters. 

I think it’s realistic that in Commander, you’re going to cast Body of Research and end up with something like 80 +1/+1 counters. This is before you factor in any sort of tomfoolery that decks playing Body of Research might have, like Doubling Season. Aside from wining the game on your next upkeep with Simic Ascendency, I’m sure that you can find other ridiculous uses for that many +1/+1 counters, like Give // Take (draw your entire library with Take) or Galloping Lizrog (163/163 trample creature anyone?).

But the real winner here is The Ozolith. This Ikoria card has been quietly climbing over the past months and is poised to explode thanks to Body of Research. The main drawback of a card like Body of Research is that if you lose the creature, all those counters are for nothing. With The Ozolith, you keep those counters no matter what happens to the initial Body of Research (bounce, exile, kill, etc). You can then move those 80 +1/+1 counters onto whatever other creature you want at the beginning of your next combat.

While I feel Body of Research will probably go down to the $3-$4 range, I do feel that The Ozolith is poised to be the card from Ikoria that ends up in the $20-$30 range once people incorporate Body of Research into counters-matter decks.

Crackle with Power: $4

Great for Commander, but not as good for other formats. I don’t want to be spending five mana to deal five damage to one target in Standard. In Commander, you’re going to see Crackle with Power dealing twenty-plus damage to four-plus targets, and that’s when it’ll truly shine.

Unfortunately, I also see this being a bulk mythic that ends up in the $1-$2 range.

Ecological Appreciation: $6

I’m not a fan of this card. It’ll never tutor out the creatures you truly want (you always get choices #3 and #4), and it’s prohibitively expensive in non-Commander formats. There are better choices for this sort of effect in most formats (Green Sun’s Zenith, Natural Order). I think this’ll also end up in the $2-$3 range.

Extus, Oriq Overlord // Awaken the Blood Avatar: $5

The front side of Extus is good enough to see Standard play, just based on double strike and the stat line. The ability to Raise Dead most of your creatures whenever you magecraft is a really good bonus. This is solid and would also make for a good enough general in Commander.

The flip side can hit as low as two mana (if you sacrifice three creatures) for what is essentially six points of haste damage. I don’t think most people will be playing Awaken the Blood Avatar at two mana in Standard, and I’m not sure the effect is strong enough in Commander.

Generally I think that the Extus side of the card is enough to keep this in the $3-$4 range.

Galazeth Prismari: $13

Galazeth Prismari is very powerful and is the Elder Dragon winner of the set. The stat lines are on point, creating a Treasure token is a great effect for a Dragon to have (hello Goldspan Dragon!), and the second ability lets you ramp heavily into burn / late-game spells in ways that other Dragons (or red cards) do not.

In short, while I think there will be some immediate post-release depreciation, I can also point to Goldspan Dragon being at $25 and say that Galazeth Prismari is extraordinarily comparable to that card. Goldspan Dragon started preorders at $6, and quickly went to $15 by release date. Galazeth Prismari is starting at $13 and I have every reason to believe the price will not come down long-term.

Harness Infinity: $7

The effect on Harness Infinity is undeniably powerful. It’s even pushed as an instant, so that you can exchange at the end of your opponent’s turn and have more than seven cards in your hand to start the turn.

I also think that people are underestimating how difficult this spell is to cast. I know that Commander is king, but you really, really have to be committed to these colors in Commander to be able to cast Harness Infinity reliably. This isn’t necessarily a card you can just throw into any three- / four- / five-color deck and expect to hit triple green / triple black when you want.  It’s also restrictive to cast early-game since you need cards in your graveyard in order to make this worthwhile to cast to begin with.

In Constructed, I can’t imagine this card being a player without some sort of cheat that lets you dump your library into the graveyard and then cast this without paying its full mana cost.

I think Harness Infinity will end up in the $3 range post-release.

Hofri Ghostforge: $5

This might be the best grindy Boros card ever printed. Hofri Ghostforge reminds me of Sunforger, in that you’re paying a bunch of mana every turn to slowly whittle value out of your deck. In this case, it’s doubling up on every creature you control. And making them bigger. And hastier. And the creatures don’t rely on Hofri Ghostforge being on the battlefield to remain on the battlefield. So you can sweep the battlefield with Hofri Ghostforge out, and end up with Spirit copies of literally every other creature you control.  

I think Hofri is being undervalued right now. The amount of card advantage and ridiculous battlefield you can force with Hofri are innumerable, and even played “fair” (get each creature twice, but bigger / better / faster the second time) Hofri is a complete beating. 

I think that Hofri will drop some post-release while vendors race to the bottom. I also think that Hofri will be one of the more popular Commanders printed in recent times (and that’s saying a lot!), is certainly a boon for Boros colors, and is good enough for Standard play.

Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios // Journey to the Oracle: $6

The front side is cute, but costs eight mana to get going. The back side is also cute, and can enable the front side. Neither side is very solid on their own, and I see this one going to that $2-$3 of bulk mythic commanders.

Kasmina, Enigma Sage: $12

Kasmina is going to be an auto-include in any planeswalker-heavy deck. I don’t think she’s a format-defining planeswalker by any means, but being able to up the loyalty of any planeswalker by two (even ones that normally only tick down) is going to be of use to some non-zero number of decks. I think Kasmina will settle in the $5-$6 range post-release.

Magma Opus: $4

The only benefit to running Magma Opus is that you can discard it early to make a Treasure token. I don’t think that’s enough of an alternate mode to make up for the card being eight mana to cast fairly. Bulk mythic city, $1-$2 post-release.

Mascot Exhibition: $1

It’s not often that we start a mythic rare at absolutely bottom bulk price at release. I understand that many of the Lessons are powered down due to being essentially “free” card draw most of the time, but this card is just not great on its own.

Mavinda, Students’ Advocate: $4

The natural place for Mavinda is in some sort of enchantress or Feather deck, where you can get back into the game quickly if your initial plans are disrupted. In Commander, there are times when you’ll be able to start casting Swords to Plowshares a second time late-game for nine mana. The effect is cheap and interesting enough that I think this will stick in the $3-$4 range.

Mila, Crafty Companion // Lukka, Wayward Bonder: $8

On the Mila side, white gets one of the good parts of Leovold, Emissary of Trest at an affordable down payment. I don’t think the loyalty to planeswalkers ability will matter often, but drawing a card off targeted effects will matter a great deal. Even if there were no flip side to Mila, this would be an extremely solid white card and commander.

The other side of Mila is Lukka, who is Sneak Attack for dead creatures. Corpse Dance? I don’t know exactly what to call the effect, other than to say that while undeniably Mila is the star of this card pairing, Lukka, Wayward Bonder is by no means a slouch either. I think that Mila // Lukka is one of the few cards in the set that stand a good chance of going up in price after release.

Professor Onyx: $15

Aside from shenanigans with Chain of Smog, Professor Onyx is a fairly Liliana card. I think Liliana, Dreadhorde General was a better card (free card draw is better than the magecraft effect on this version). I don’t think Professor Onyx is all bad, but six mana is a lot for a planeswalker that will marginally affect the battlefield the turn it hits. I think this will drop to the $8-$10 range, and part of that is on the strength of this being a Liliana card.

Rowan, Scholar of Sparks // Will, Scholar of Frost: $10

The Rowan side of the card has a nifty mana reduction effect, but it’s so fragile (two loyalty) that I don’t think it’ll stick around to matter. The Will side of the card has the same ability, but with four loyalty to start. I don’t think either side of Will or Rowan is particularly compelling. Should be a $4-$5 planeswalker post-release.

Shadrix Silverquill: $7

Shadrix gets much, much better in Commander than in Standard. In Standard, you’re either getting a 2/5 flying double-striking body or you’re giving your opponent some benefit each combat on your turn. Granted, you’re also getting a benefit and there are times when your opponent won’t have creatures that matter getting +1/+1 counters.  Don’t get me wrong — I think in most cases you’ll be able to make choices that have you coming out ahead even if you’re giving your opponent a free card, but there’s a definite drawback to using Shadrix’s ability in Standard.

In Commander, on the other hand, there’s almost always going to be someone you can play politics with in order to completely mitigate the “drawback” of having to choose two separate abilities with two separate players. In this regard, Shadrix is going to be a very popular and powerful Commander and should end up holding value longer-term.

Tanazir Quandrix: $9

How many doubling effects can WotC print before they stop becoming an auto-include in a Doubling Season deck? The answer is that we’re nearing that line. Tanazir is really cool with token horde decks, but I think the one-off +1/+1 doubling effect is a misdirection from the lead of what you’ll be using Tanazir for — turning Saproling and Elf hordes into 4/4 creatures.

Short term I think Tanazir will go down in price to the $5-$6 range. I think though that Tanazir is a good longer-term bet (four-plus months from now) when people stop opening Strixhaven as much (after Modern Horizons 2 and Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms have come out). I don’t think you’d feel bad ordering this now, even if it goes down a little at release, because it’ll rebound.

Velomachus Lorehold: $8

I compare Velomachus Lorehold to Beledros Witherbloom. Velomachus immediately impacts the battlefield (flying + haste), and lets you pseudo-cascade into a spell that likely will matter. This is another Elder Dragon that I think will go down in the short term, but is impactful enough to see play in Standard at the top of a curve. Immediately post-release, I think we’re looking at the $4-$5 range.  Along the time frame of Tanazir Quandrix, I think we’re looking at a $10+ Elder Dragon.

In general, I think the power level of this set is notably lower than the Standard-legal sets since Throne of Eldraine. There are a lot of really great cards for Commander, but a lot fewer cards that will make huge impacts on Standard, Pioneer, Modern, Legacy, or Vintage than recent sets. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing given how high-powered the last few Standard sets have been, but I also am worried that WotC turned the knob a little too much in the other direction. 

In addition, the commons, uncommons, rares, and most foils in this set will be generally devalued by the existence of more desirable cards in the Mystical Archive, and the sheer volume of additional foils that are put into the ecosystem from both Collector Booster packs and the foil slot of Set Booster packs. Aside from Wandering Archaic, I think this is a set where the majority of the value will be concentrated at mythic.

Tune in next week for the third and final part of this series, wherein I’ll speak about all five of the Commander 2021 decks and give some final thoughts about the Strixhaven experience in general!