Is Stoneforge Mystic Undercosted?

Stoneforge Mystic is certainly overpriced (by my standards). The funny thing is that last July you could still get this Kor equipment tutor for under $4 (according to MTG Reports). Now, you’d pay over $20 for it (and it’s not even a Mythic Rare!), but that is largely the result of a major spike in its price due to the printing of the uber-equipment Sword of Feast and Famine, which together helps to form the core of Standard’s current best deck (Caw-Blade). This is sad, since I have the perfect deck for this card: I call it “Armed to the Kor.”

The real problem, of course, isn’t the price; that is simply the product of market forces. Rather, the problem is the reason the card sees play in the best tournament decks: it is undercosted for what it does. Let’s start by comparing it with other similar rares and see what you typically get for your 1W with a 1/2 body:

 Auratog (Tempest – Current price: about $0.75)

Just a 1/2 dude unless you have some enchantments in play that you no longer want/need. Then it might become a 3/4, or maybe even a 5/6 for that last few bits of damage – but all of that would have come at the cost of the mana to cast those enchantments in the first place. Hardly holds a candle to our magical rocksmith.

 Exiled Doomsayer (Scourge – Current price: about $0.40)

Another plain 1/2 dude with a narrow ability that is only slightly useful if you’re playing Onslaught block and your opponent has some morph guys. I have to imagine (I wasn’t playing then) that this saw little play in Standard.

 Femeref Enchantress (Visions – Current price: about $0.85)

Ok, not only do you have to have a green mana to go with your white mana, but you also have to play an enchantment out, and either get it destroyed or sacrifice it, in order to get the bonus benefit (a random card from your library).

 Icatian Lieutenant (Fallen Empires – Current price: about $0.21)

So, this one has a double white casting cost, but in order to get anything extra from him (a whopping +1/+0), you’re paying two more mana. Oh sure, it’s repeatable and can be applied to any of your soldiers in play. Fallen Empires was not a set known for its high power level…

 Sunstrike Legionnaire (Legions – Current price: about $0.48)

Yep, same cost and stats as our transparently-challenged Neolithic tool-maker, but he only gets to untap himself if you have another creature to play, which might enable you to tap down one of your opponent’s dudes for as long as you can keep finding creatures to cast. That’s a lot of pressure (on you, not your opponent)!

 Shaman en-Kor (Stronghold – Current price: about $1.50)

Here’s a 1/2 for 1W that’s even been Oracle text updated to be a Kor. This is about as close as we’re going to get to a parallel, and what do we get? We get to move damage around as long as our 1/2 can stay in play, along with whatever else is taking the hits. If you have to move damage around like this, chances are you are not winning, or you have some ridiculously fragile combo out. I think I saw an old Channel Fireball video where Stoneforge Mystic was going for about this price—shortly after Worldwake came out.

 Master Decoy (Tempest – Current price: $0.14)

Ok, it’s not a rare, but it is an old iconic white weenie with the same casting cost and stats as our stalagmite-for-an-anvil witch. And, hey, for another mana every turn, you can tap down their most dangerous threat! But, as a further bonus, you get to play with some classic Phil Foglio art, if you use the original Tempest version. At least this got reprinted a couple of times – think ol’ Stoneforgy’s gonna see the light of day in a future core set?

So, you can play with these guys, and a few more commons and uncommons that come up in a Gatherer search for a White 2CMC 1/2 guy, OR you can play with this (provided you’re willing to foot the bill):

She essentially replaces herself with another card into your hand when you play her (tutoring up a card from your library no less), which she can then cheat out for two more mana the next turn (which can’t be countered because you’re not actually casting it). Ok, so she’s only Tier 1 tournament calibre if you have some Tier 1 tournament equipment for her to fetch, but every set seems to have one or two of those. Heck, she came out in the same set as Basilisk Collar!

Now, she would fit perfectly in my “Armed to the Kor” deck, where I have other similar costed creatures (although hardly as powerful):

Notice the synergy that could be going on here! Perhaps if she was only appearing in decks like this (it is Standard legal, after all) she wouldn’t be $20. I do have a Basilisk Collar (lucky booster pack pull) in there. In my opinion, it would be nice to see less “power creep” in Magic sets. This doesn’t mean you can’t make cool cards, just that they need to be costed appropriately. Imagine if the pros were forced to play a deck like mine in Standard tournaments – probably wouldn’t be less fun (especially if you don’t know any better, right?), and would be a whole lot more accessible for regular Joes like me.

/End rant.

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