Drake Tokens

I needed some Drake tokens for Talrand, Sky Summoner, which is in my Nicol Bolas Planeswalker Jousting deck, but I decided to make something a little punny:

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You can probably tell what show I used to watch after school when I was a kid.

Magic: the Gathering Sporcle Quizzes

I’ve noticed that the Magic: the Gathering community does not get enough love, nor play enough, on the quiz site Sporcle. I’ve made a few quizzes for it, as have a few other afficianados, so check it out:

 

All the Magic tagged quizzes.

Into the Scrapheap? Episode 13 (Mana Walls)

I was updating my Garruk Planeswalker Jousting deck when I came across a card that had a strictly better version:

Vine Trellis Overgrown Battlement

There’s almost no reason to play Vine Trellis anymore, especially since even if you’re looking for another mana producing wall, there are other (better) options available as well (not considering cost, of course):

Sylvan Caryatid

The slightly smaller body is more than compensated for in its Hexproof. And it’s supplying you with ANY color of mana, not just Green. If you do need a bigger body, you might try this:

Wall of Roots

Although this will shrink over time, you do have the immediate option of getting 4 or 5 mana in one fell swoop. If you really need multiple colors of mana and you’re willing to pay a little more, you can also get this:

Axebane Guardian

CONCLUSIONS: All of this renders the Vine Trellis pretty well redundant and inferior. I am officially tossing it into the scrapheap.

For completion’s sake, here are two other narrow-use mana walls:

Tinder Wall Jungle Patrol

Theros Soldier Tokens

Here’s one for the ladies…

I must say that I actually like the official soldier tokens for Theros, especially the red one, but I just can’t resist a Greek-themed set, so I made some of my own too.

Soldier TokenSoldier TokenSoldier Token

 

It’s Hector and Achilles!

Token Soldier Red 11a Token Soldier Red 11b Token Soldier Red 11c Token Soldier White 11a Token Soldier White 11b Token Soldier White 11c

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).

The Tropes of Innistrad – BLUE

I’ve decided to just do the most obvious tropes that I know of. I know that most of the cards are referencing horror tropes, but I’m just not that familiar. So, I went with the ones that I know, and the ones I know of classic films for.

Back from the Brink – What’s scarier than one pieced together monster? A whole hoard of horrible clones. And what’s the most horrifying thing that we could imagine cloning? Hitler, of course! So, a scene from The Boys from Brazil (1978).
Civilized Scholar – I have to say that this is probably my favorite card from the whole set, not so much for its ability or quality, but for its echoing of the (in)famous Dr. Jekyll and…
Homicidal Brute – … Mr. Hyde. With scenes from the classic Spencer Tracy version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941).
Claustrophobia – I haven’t seen this recent film called Buried (2010), but man, I can’t imagine a death much worse than being buried alive, trapped, knowing you can’t get out, that your air is slowly being used up…
Delver of Secrets / Insectile Abomination – Not only has this card proved a monster in Constructed, but it’s another one of the really great horror riffs in the set. I know there’s a more recent version, but I like the classic The Fly (1958) with Vincent Price.
Deranged Assistant – What’s more classic than Dr. Frankenstein’s often deformed, and always disturbing, assistant, sometimes called Ygor… I think this is the guy from The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942).
Forbidden Alchemy – If you read the original Frankenstein book, Victor is the updated version of the early modern alchemist. Here’s Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein from the 1960s.
Invisible Stalker – Here’s another great nod to a classic, the Invisible Man, with a scene from the the 1933 version with Claude Rains. I do wish they had made him unblockable only when he wasn’t equipped.
Laboratory Maniac – Blue is the color of the mad scientist, and there’s no one more mad than Dr. Frankenstein. I believe this is Peter Cushing again – he did do at least two such films that I know of.
Ludevic’s Test Subject / Ludevic’s Abomination – When confronted with the mad scientist experimenting on living creatures, my mind immediately went to The Island of Dr. Moreau, the classic version of which is the 1977 movie with Burt Lancaster and Michael York.
Murder of Crows – Not only does the name for a flock of crows evoke horror, but so does the classic Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds (1963).
Skaab Ruinator – It’s clear that the designers are just using Skaab to mean a generic sort of Frankenstein’s monster. I decided to just throw the most classic of all Frankensteins on the card – Boris Karloff in Frankenstein (1931). See also Armored Skaab and Skaab Goliath (for which I have yet to come up with the perfect image/ film version).
Stitcher’s Apprentice – Yet another version of the Deranged Assistant, this time named Karl apparently, from one of Cushing’s Frankenstein films.

As always, I’m open to suggestions for some of the other cards’ tropes – I know they’re there, I just don’t know a good example.

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