Token Hunting on Ravnica

I know… I’m a little behind the times, but I was on hiatus during the original Ravnica block. Anyway, I came across the “Hunted” cycle recently:

Hunted LammasuHunted PhantasmHunted HorrorHunted DragonHunted Troll

Hunted Lammasu   Hunted Phantasm      Hunted Horror       Hunted Dragon         Hunted Troll

After several Google searches, I did find a couple of the tokens, but not all of them, and certainly not as a set. Wizards of the Coast actually posted the artwork for the tokens here and here. So, I made my own:

4/4 Horror Token

Token Horror RAV

1/1 Goblin Token

Token Goblin RAV

3/3 Centaur Token

Token Centaur RAV

2/2 Knight Token

Token Knight RAV

1/1 Faerie Token

Token Faerie RAV

Scars of Mirrodin Values

As a new set rotation looms at the end of the summer, it’s worth taking a look at what I’ve learned about post-rotation values from the last block to rotate out: Scars of Mirrodin. I tracked the value of any card selling for over a dollar at ChannelFireball.com over the last year to see what happens to valuable cards. Channel Fireball is not the cheapest place to buy cards usually, but I find their values are more reasonable than StarCityGames, and it gives me something to compare to the other prices when I buy off of TCGPlayer.com. Obviously, your mileage may vary, but by using a single site that is fairly attuned to the market, I can draw some conclusions.

Scars of Mirrodin

First, let’s look at the real money cards, those over $10:

MOX OPAL

Last summer, as its time in Standard was waning, you could get this for $10, but just before rotation in September it was up to $12. By the end of year, well out of Standard, it was up to $15. It has continued to climb and is now worth $40. Ok. This is a mythic that was originally quite hyped (I sold one for $20 early on), but did not see a lot of Standard play. Now, I believe it is an integral part of the Modern Affinity deck. So, if you waited for this to go down after rotation, you really missed the boat.

WURMCOIL ENGINE

There’s a similar story for Wurmcoil Engine, although not quite so dramatic. This was played in Standard pretty regularly, as well as in some other formats, but was still only $8 last summer. It too rose as rotation neared, to $10 where it stayed until just recently when it started moving up again and is now at $15. So, instead of coming down in price, as we usually expect with rotation, this one has essentially doubled over the past year. Too bad, as I like this card – apparently so do the tournament players, and perhaps some of the richer casual crowd as well.

ELSPETH TIREL

Planeswalkers tend to hold their value and never dip too low even after their time in Standard, but the new Elspeth was down to $8 last summer. Right before and after rotation, it even dropped to $7, and that’s when you should have bought her. Now she’s up to $12, and unless she gets a Core Set reprint someday, I don’t expect that price to come down – how sad.

SWORD OF BODY AND MIND PLATINUM EMPERION BLACKCLEAVE CLIFFS ETCHED CHAMPION VENSER, THE SOJOURNER SKITHIRYX, THE BLIGHT DRAGON ASCETICISM

At the next level, we have four more mythics and three rares in the $5-$10 range, but not all their stories are the same. Only the Sword and Venser are cheaper now than they were last summer ($10 and $6), and Venser got a reprint in a Duel Deck (now $8 and $5). Venser was as low as $4 at one point after rotation. The Platinum Emperion has more than doubled in the past year ($3 to $8), but it only went up slightly after rotation. The Etched Champion has now found a home in a Modern deck, I believe, so it’s steadily climbed from $2 last summer to $3 post-rotation and $6 this summer (wow – that’s a tripling in price). Skithiryx did dip slightly, from $3.50 to $3 after rotation, but is now climbing and is at $6 now. And Asceticism, which I had really hoped would come down, instead held steady and is now climbing, from $3 to $5. Finally, Blackcleave Cliffs has remained relatively stable around the $5 range.

7 of the 14 remaining cards with any real value (i.e. priced over $1) did see a small dip after rotation, although among those, only the dual lands have seen a permanent lower price, with the rest either maintaining their value or increasing slightly over the year.

Mirrodin Besieged

It’s a similar tale with the next set, although fewer cards since the set was smaller.

SWORD OF FEAST AND FAMINE

This Sword did dip after rotation, from $18 at the height of summer Standard to $12, but recently it’s jumped up to $24, so hopefully you got yours already if you wanted one.

TEZZERET, AGENT OF BOLAS

This planeswalker didn’t make much of a splash in Standard, but I think it’s seeing some play in Legacy, and planeswalkers don’t usually dip too low. It was already at it’s lowest last summer, and has only risen since then, to $8 around rotation time, and again recently spiking at $15. Drat – I was really hoping this would dip a couple more dollars, but instead… ouch!

THRUN, THE LAST TROLL

Here’s a clear tournament card that did do a post-rotation dip, from $6 in the summer down to $4 by the end of the year, but now it’s climbed all the way up to $10.

BLIGHTSTEEL COLOSSUS

Likewise with the Blightsteel Colossus: a little dip (from $6 to $5) and now up to $12.

HERO OF BLADEHOLD CONSECRATED SPHINX GREEN SUN'S ZENITH INKMOTH NEXUS DARKSTEEL PLATE MASSACRE WURM

Of this next batch, two have decreased in price since last summer, The Hero of Bladehold ($8 to $6) and the Green Sun’s Zenith ($10 to $5), both of which were solid Standard cards and still see some Modern play, I believe. The Hero even dipped lower right after rotation (to $4). The others basically held steady until hitting a recent price bump – the Consecrated Sphinx dipped (from $6 to $4) briefly and is now spiking at $8; the Inkmoth Nexus hit its low of $4 and hovered nearby until recently hitting $8; The Wurm and the Plate were already at $3 last summer, but have slowly climbed to $5.

Of the remaining 8 valuable cards, they pretty much all saw a very slight dip post-rotation and have held steady from one summer to the next.

Mirrodin Besieged

The third set actually had more value cards than the second set.

KARN LIBERATED

Not only is Karn a beloved planeswalker, but he’s a win condition in a Modern deck, so his price not only did not dip, from its $15 last summer, but has now almost doubled, to $28. My only hope for getting one now is somehow getting a Duel Deck with him in it at MSRP (yeah, right).

BATTERSKULL

A powerful standard card that continues to be played in other formats means no real dip (Ok, it did dip from $8 to $7 briefly) and is now double at $15.

SWORD OF WAR AND PEACE

Here’s one that actually has come down. After rotation it took a big hit, from $20 to $12, although it has recently climbed back to $15.

ELESH NORN, GRAND CENOBITE

I had hoped to collect all the Praetors from this set, but then Elesh Norn became a win condition in some tournament decks. It did go down after rotation, from $15 to $10, but now it’s back to $15. The other praetors have also risen in price, I might add.

PHYREXIAN OBLITERATOR

If you watched the market carefully, then you had your chance at the end of the year. From $12 in the summer, Phyrexian Obliterator went down to $6 in the winter – hopefully you got yours then, because they’re now up to $15.

VORINCLEX, VOICE OF HUNGER SPELLSKITE JIN-GITAXIAS, CORE AUGUR BIRTHING POD SHEOLDRED, WHISPERING ONE

In this next level, all of the cards have seen a slow rise, mostly doubling price over the year, although Spellskite quadrupled, from $2.50 to $10. A couple of these are seeing play in Modern tournaments, but the Praetors must be due to casual appeal.

Conclusion

For the most part, don’t expect valuable cards to lose too much value after rotation, and if you think you’re going to want them, it’s probably better to get them sooner rather than later. It may be that lands do come down after they rotate out of standard, although don’t expect that with the Ravnica duals (it didn’t happen with the Zendikar fetchlands either).

Manaweft Sliver on Route 66

Is it just me, or does the Manaweft Sliver look like some guy who needed a quick pitstop along the highway?

Manaweft Sliver
Just sayin…

Goblin (Minion) Tokens

Except for their color, what’s more goblin-y than those minions from Despicable Me? And 1/1 Goblin tokens are always useful…

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There’s even a pair in there for when you need to put out two goblins at the same time.

Into the Scrapheap? Episode 11 (Play it again, Sam)

With the return of Archaeomancer in Magic 2014, I was reminded of Call to Mind as a potential card for my Nicol Bolas deck (since I certainly can’t afford something like Snapcaster Mage!), which got me searching for similar cards.

Relearn
The first spell to let you get back an instant or sorcery came in Weatherlight for 1UU.

Call to Mind

Then came a clear upgrade in Magic 2011: In anything except a mono Blue deck, you’d rather have a 2U spell over a 1UU spell, even though the converted mana cost is the same. So, unless you need eight of this effect in your deck, then Relearn has been consigned to the scrapheap.

Mystic Retrieval

More recently, in Dark Ascension, a new option was thrown our way. Pay one more but get a second use out of it if you have red in your deck too.

Archaeomancer

Interestingly, Magic 2013 gave us an even more interesting choice. Essentially for one extra blue mana, you get the spell effect plus a 1/2 Human Wizard (which isn’t shabby considering there is no blue vanilla 1/2 for U even available in the game; the closest thing being a Nivmagus Elemental). So, not strictly an upgrade, but unless you’re trying to turn off people’s Essence Scatter or you really need the spell at the three-drop spot, why not get a creature who can block 1/1s all day long to go with your re-learned spell.

Izzet Chronarch

If you’d like something a little more robust and you’re going the UR route, maybe the Izzet Chronarch could find his way into your deck. Probably not, though. He’s not really that much better than the Archaeomancer, and he costs one more and requires you to play red too.

Mnemonic Wall

If you’re going to spend that much mana, the Mnemonic Wall is probably a more useful option in most decks. It’s not much of a deal, though, as it’s essentially a Wall of Tears plus a Call to Mind, and yet not quite as good.

Nucklavee

As you get to this end of the mana curve, you may want to just go one more to get the significantly beefier Nucklavee: A 4/4 that can net you two cards back from the graveyard for the same price as two Call to Minds is nothing to shake a stick at, although you definitely have to build your deck around this to make sure it’s usually useful.

Conclusion: Bye-bye Relearn and have a seat on the bench Izzet Chronarch.

Parental Advisory Review – Magic 2014

I don’t normally do a PAR for the Core Sets, as much of the art is reprints, but I was pleasantly surprised by the lower levels of objectification of women in the set’s art, so I thought it was worth mentioning and applauding. I focused mainly on new cards with new art.

The Good

Look ma, I’m wearing all my armor! Nice to see these female fighters fully armored up instead of the usual just enough armor for modesty’s sake, especially on the angels, who are notorious for leaving their heavenly home in a state of undress. Even the civilians got dresses down to their ankles!

Banisher Priest Dawnstrike Paladin Angelic Accord Archangel of Thune Seraph of the Sword Imposing Sovereign Shadowborn Apostle

The Bad

There are still some leftovers from bygone days, of course. Here you can see the old scantily clad angels. Of course, they still have some work to do on their female planeswalkers. Maybe Liliana’s a lost cause, seeing as how she sold her soul to some demons, but I still don’t get why Chandra’s skirts are even shorter than women’s tennis skirts, which are pretty dang short these days and why her breasts get plate mail when the rest of her torso gets chainmail – I sure hope it’s not just to accentuate her boobs…

Congregate Gladecover Scout Liliana Chandra

Chandra

The Ugly

Despite the improvements in the portrayal of women, there still seems to be some pandering to lowest common denominators in the form of blood, violence, and third-grade humor. Yes, those women are fully armored, but they have bloody swords sticking through them.

Blood Bairn Dark Prophecy Grim Return Undead Minotaur Goblin Diplomats

Still, on the whole, I felt the set made a solid step forward in their art choices. Let’s hope they don’t revert back to older trends when they get to what I expect to be a Mediterranean-like plane, resembling Ancient Greece and Rome, in Theros. I, for one, would like to see a Victorian-art-like setting rather than a Pompeiian-frescoe-sort of humanscape.