We're almost done! After the 5 colors of rares, a whole article on the mythic rares, and almost a week straight of reviewing the 2011 Core Set, we finally conclude the review series with a discussion of artifacts and some choice uncommons. Considering Scars of Mirrodin is on the horizon, the artifacts are sure to cause a lot of buzz!
Brittle Effigy was a card I had pegged as a gainer in my initial review, but further thought has led me to believe it'll only be a role-player in some decks as a silver bullet. If MBC every becomes real, Liliana Vess can fetch the Effigy to handle creatures with Protection From Black. It'll get used in every EDH deck ever, but it won't see play in multiples in Standard so it's going to be relegated to the $1 bin. Irrelevant.
Jinxed Idol is not the card you want to be using to leverage your Eldrazi Spawns. Let's just leave it at that. Irrelevant.
Mystifying Maze is a tough card to evaluate, so we need to compare it to the cards we already know. Kor Haven was a similar effect, but was color-based so it was not universal. Mystifying Maze is twice the cost, but without the color restriction. Comparing it to Maze of Ith is unfair, just like the card itself. In general, 5 mana to remove an attacker from combat is a lot, but it's a nice way to handle an opposing Celestial Colonnade without risking yours. For bonus fun, the Colonnade returns tapped. You can also trick an opponent into "forcing" you to spend the mana and then just catch them off-guard with a Angel of Condemnation. Its uses are narrow, but powerful, and it's not a 4-of anywhere. Hold, because it'll likely stay around $2.
Steel Overseer is one of the obvious plants for Scars of Mirrodin, and I don't mean an 0/1 Green Plant Token. The ability is severely powerful, and Voltaic Key makes it doubly so. We won't know the relevance of such an ability until we see the set, but I'd hedge my bets and acquire them while they're not overblown. You won't be the first person to realize the value, but people will eventually have a lot of them from drafting and will trade them easily. The price will dramatically effect their rating, but since they can be had for under $5 if you trade savvy, they'll earn a Buy rating.
Sword of Vengeance will prompt many discussions about the power of Stoneforge Mystic, and those discussions are quite relevant. It's obviously good with Basilisk Collar, but having to find two cards to make a deadly monster can be kind of a pain. The suite of abilities can turn almost any creature into a relevant threat, and the lack of colored mana involved will keep it in many decks, but like Basilisk Collar, it'll usually be a 1-of. We see Basilisk Collar hovering in the vicinity of $5, which gives it a bit of room to grow. Even so, the card won't be a good flip. Hold, with upside.
Temple Bell is part of an infinite combo already, is an ever-popular Howling Mine effect, and has "casual appeal" sharpied all over it. Even so, it's only clocking in at $2! This seems low, but not by that much. They'll be tradable forever, but shouldn't ever command more than a $4-5 price tag. Buy, because they're cheap as sin and will be great trade fodder.
Welcome back, Triskelion. No one missed you, and you won't do more than make Limited games slightly more fun. In all seriousness, Scars of Mirrodin might have some work for the ol' boy and Steel Overseer makes for a nice little machine gun, but the card is a freakin' 6 drop. It's got potential to see some play post-rotation, but the big gainer will not be Trike, but another part of the deck that uses him. Even so, the card is a crap rare and as such, can be had for pennies in trade. Despite how irrelevant it will probably be, there could be good EV in picking them up at bulk rates, especially on MTGO. Buy, mainly on MTGO at the "league minimum" of $0.15 If a deck uses them, they'll go from "nothing" to " a buck or two", which can be real money in the correct quantities. Low risk, high reward, since if you buy a ton for almost nothing, you won't miss the money you spent and could get paid off. No rush, but don't forget about Trike.
The Dual Lands are all in one boat here, as their price is dictated by usage. The case has been made that they'll follow the pricing of the Pain Lands, which kept getting reprinted in core sets until their price fell to around $4 each, and that'll probably happen with these too. The ones in the most tier 1 decks will fetch $6-7 and the others $3-5. Hold on them all, since you will likely need them to play. These are rarely a good investment, but a necessary evil.
There are a few uncommons of note, and most of them will not earn a Buy/Sell/Hold rating unless there is very large potential. Most of them just have implications that could effect other cards' prices.
Autumn's Veil has a lot of potential for Extended, rather than Legacy. I'll let my Legacy specialists discuss that angle further, but it has its uses in winning the fight against Faeries. It's not a sure thing, but it has potential, and that's good enough.
Angel of Condemnation may help cards like Celestial Colonnade and Glacial Fortress retain more value (as if Jace didn't...) It goes a long way towards ensuring UW Control remains a player in post-rotation Standard, and opens up a lot of options in other control archetypes. It's not a Path to Exile replacement, but some decks will prefer the life gain over the free land, to say nothing of the fact that it handles Vengevine neatly.
Crystal Ball. Is this good enough for Constructed? Sealed play proved it to be very powerful, and Mana Leak could help its case along with Angel of Condemnation, but my inclination is that a 3-mana artifact that doesn't draw you a card isn't quite "there". Regardless, it felt a lot like a fair version of Sensei's Divining Top when played in Sealed Deck so it merits consideration, especially with cards like Jace and Conundrum Sphinx. It'll be a popular foil for EDH and cubes everywhere, and nonfoil versions will be a nice throw-in to even out trades.
Ember Hauler is the successor to Mogg Fanatic, and one that would have never seen the light of day without the M10 rules changes. Between Ember Hauler and Leyline of Punishment, not to mention Akki Coalflinger, MonoRed might actually have a really good position in the metagame. Time will tell, but Ember Hauler seems to be a very high powered uncommon.
Voltaic Key will be an instrumental card in a tier 1 deck before it rotates out of Standard, and there's no way around it. I've been saying that we're one more good mana artifact away from some scary stuff happening in Standard, and I hope that we don't get it. Part of me hopes we do, to be honest. I'd love to see a return of Cleansing Wildfire decks that use artifact mana and Destructive Force to wipe an opponent out and remain "in the game", but we're lacking an artifact like Grim Monolith or even Thran Dynamo. Regardles, foil copies of Key will be pricey, and regular ones will be decent trade fodder.
Most Influential Uncommon: Voltaic Key
Most Valuable Colorless Card: Steel Overseer
Biggest Sleeper: Triskelion (since it's so cheap now...)
Most-Played Uncommon in T8 Decklists: Celestial Purge
That'll do it for the set review! While these are sometimes not the most ground-breaking articles, it's helpful to read a large breadth of reviews to see multiple viewpoints on a card. Thanks for reading, and enjoy playing with the 2011 Core Set!