Casual Encounters – Christmas in April



Eldrazi Menace = Affordable MTG?

Usually I get excited for new sets during spoiler season, but something has got me super excited. Sure, going back to Innistrad seems cool and I can’t wait to find some more sweet werewolves for a deck I built 4-years ago…but that isn’t what got me truly excited. No, I’m super excited right now for the MTG world in which we live right now. Things are sweet and I want to tell you why.

Most people are bemoaning the fact that Modern sucks right now as we are overrun by Eldrazi and silly lands like Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple. The pro tour was a bit of a train-wreck if you like to see a super diverse Top 8 because the format kind of got busted. Legacy hasn’t been far behind with the Eldrazi deck sliding over and giving everyone fits with super fast decks. I mean, any deck running an Endbringer and casting it on turn 3 tells me things are broken. The Eldrazi Winter is truly a thing and lots of players are pretty upset. These eternal formats aren’t supposed to be broken so easily…and yet thanks to Oath of the Gatewatch that is exactly what has happened.

Now, I’m not relishing the state of these formats, but I am super pleased that the MTG world has been so preoccupied with the Eldrazi and non-rotating formats that they have allowed Standard playable cards to tank in value. I don’t think I have ever seen so many excellent cards cost so little. Thanks to a focus on acquiring Modern staples and things that can port to Eternal formats, players have opened piles of OGW, (not to mention looking for the Expeditions,) and in the process helped depress the prices of OGW and BFZ. We’ll look at a few examples in a bit, but to a fringe constructed player or someone who plays casually this is music to our ears. Affordable MTG? Yes please!

A similar effect has happened with Battle for Zendikar and prices have been seriously reduced because everyone has been hunting furiously for the Expeditions and opened up tons of product. Mythics and highly sought after rare cards are affordable making rotation seem almost palatable.  C’mon, who doesn’t like having access to things like Drana or Undergrowth Champion at reasonable prices?  Right now these cards are indeed things that can be acquired without much trouble making piecing together what you want for a future deck much easier than in the past.

Similar effects are being felt in other Standard legal sets that are going through the usual pre-rotation lull before they leave Standard, but even in Dragons of Tarkir, a set that is NOT rotating out in a few short weeks, we are seeing prices drop to a point where they are reasonable. When premium, Standard playable powerhouses are falling to very reasonable prices you know something kind of cool is going on.

The one exception is Magic: Origins where prices have stayed high and continue to soar upwards.  Jace, Vrynn’s Prodigy alone continues to skyrocket and is listed at close to $90 a card! However, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, Liliana, Heretical Healer, and Abbot of Keral Keep are all quite expensive.  Some of the pressure on Origins  is tied to the fact that it was released mid-summer, historically a low time for sales, meaning not as much of it has been opened as some of the other sets and that is forcing the prices to be higher.  

So, what does it mean?  The combination of a focus on Eternal Formats, an over abundance of some sets on account of the “Expedition Effect”, and the Modern season with a number of GP’s has really helped to force the price of Standard cards down a lot. This is great news for budget-conscious players who play casually because you can jump in and grab a number of really powerful Mythics and Rares without putting a hole in your bank book.  Check out this list of Mythics from Battle for Zendikar Block that cost ~$3!

*Please note that the price information I am using is in Canadian dollars and is subject to change according to the whims of the multiverse. 

Crush of Tentacles 2.15
General Tazri 1.03
Inverter of Truth 1.51


Akoum Firebird 0.80


Greenwarden of Murasa 1.85


Omnath, Locus of Rage 2.54
Part the Waterveil 2.29
Quarantine Field 1.86
Sire of Stagnation 1.81


There is a whole lot of casual appeal to these cards!  And this trend seems to buck a trend even for kind of janky Mythics.  If you go and pull up a set from the last 4 years, like Gatecrash for example, you will see that the price of Mythics rarely sunk this low. Now, I know Gatecrash had no Expeditions, but in many regards it was a fine set that even had Shocklands making it fairly sought after, and was drafted as a stand alone set 3 packs at a time meaning it was opened in good quantity. Despite this,  Aurelia didn’t fall below $4 while she was in Standard.  Master Biomancer was a house and held good value! Even things like Lord of the Void seemed to hold more value.  Something wonderful is happening right now that is making BFZ block much cheaper for those of us looking to play casually or on a tight budget.  

Will it stay like this for long?  No.  I can’t imagine we’ll be able to grab these sorts of cards at this price for much longer.  Once Shadows over Innistrad starts to get spoiled everyone will start to focus back in on Standard again as players look to rebound from the new Spring rotation.  However, in the meantime we have the chance to grab a strong number of very playable cards to help settle your casual appetite and get you brewing all sorts of funky decks.

So, if you are a casual player, take advantage now while the prices are good and get the cards you’ve always wanted!  This is a pretty special time, almost like Christmas, and now is the time to jump in a get what you need.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to stop by next time for another Casual Encounter.


Bruce Gray

@bgray8791 on Twitter