Endless Horizons – Lotus Cobra Phenomenon

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Its right about that time again, a new set creeps closer and closer to us, and we’ve separated most of the current wheat from chaff. Prices are starting to settle and stabilize, and were seeing the normal order of things restore. This lasts for about four more weeks until we start the Mirrodin Besieged rumor season which will set the market into more up’s and downs as cards are spoiled. This week were going to see just what that’s going to do to Scars of Mirrodin as a whole, and see if we can pull some profit from it.

The Lotus Cobra Phenomenon

There will be a few cards that are in Scars of Mirrodin that you can currently pick up dirt cheap that stand a good chance to see value gains from the next set. It happens almost every single set. Knight of the Reliquary was originally considered junk when it first came out, and they were traded off rather cheaply, usually $2 and sometimes less because they didn’t have a home. Lotus Cobra had the same story, so did Frost Titan, and so did All Is Dust. While All Is Dust was never truly in the lows that KotR was, until recently its price was dictated by its possibility, and not its use and appearance in decks. Here is a short list of cards that could experience a notable rise in price, either because of hype as the spoilers come out, or because interactions are realized that make them cornerstone cards.

Argent Sphinx

Etched Champion

Grand Architect

Hand of the Praetors

Indomitable Archangel

Lux Cannon


Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

Tempered Steel

Could this card double in price? Easily with a few spoilers for the upoming set.

While some of these already have a decent price tag associated with them, they all have the potential to rise. One thing that almost every card on this list has is common? It’s an enabler or an addition to a mechanic or theme that given just a slight boost could see these cards burst onto the “hot” scene.  Remember that most of the Ally rares saw a price spike with the release of Worldwake, because people love building to a theme. Poison and metalcraft are both in the same position, and neither is a mechanic I see them abandoning in the next set. Something to note as well, is the Lotus Cobra Phenomenon works both ways. There are few cards outside of the Planeswalkers in Scars of Mirrodin that can expect a price drop, and I see most of the mythics not on the above list staying where they are. The only exception is Mox Opal if metalcraft breaks onto the scene, but its price won’t go up much from where it’s at.

The Sarkhan Vol Phenomenon

Remember when getting a set of Sarkhan Vols would run you around $80? Yeah, this is the ugly side of mythic price changes. This sets Sarkhan Vol is clearly Elspeth Tirel. While she may not have taken as much of a value hit as Sarkhan Vol, currently you can order her foil version for the same price as her pre-order of a non-foil. That’s a hard fall for anyone to take, and if you didn’t trade off your Elspeths and Vensers in the first couple of weeks and pick up Koths, you were stuck holding the bag. Predicting price falls is much harder without any information on the next set, so I’m not going to attempt that just yet, but I will revisit it when we have more information, and a general idea of what the next set will bring us.

The only thing that we know for sure is that Scars of Mirrodin as a whole will most likely suffer the usual 10% decrease across the board. This is usual whenever a new set comes out, and should be noted since it will make things cheaper which is both good and bad. If you want top dollar for your foil Koth of the Hammer, get rid of it now. If you want foil Koths, then wait for the next set to come out and you should be able to pick them up a bit cheaper. *

Curve balls

Every so often we’re thrown curve balls that define a set, and skew its average pricing. Cards such as Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Figure of Destiny, Thoughtseize, Mutavault, Tarmogoyf, and a few others find a price tag that’s above and beyond most of the cards in the set. Since Alara Block these are almost always Mythic Rares and should be recognizable. These cards tend to dominate a set and are the cards that come to mind when you talk about a specific set.

Seasonal Rotations

Most every DCI season we see a beginning of season price spike, a slight drop, a mid season spike, and an end of season drop. This is common and until

The DCI influences prices more than you know.

recently has worked like clockwork. The recent addition of large and profitable events outside of PTQ, Pro Tours, and Grand Prix’s makes seasonal rotations much harder to count on for inventory spikes. Now because of the events hosted around the country by, and to a lesser extent, we must look at Standard prices and trends year round. As legacy picks up in popularity and posts results at least once a month it’s a market that can move just as fast and in some cases faster than Standard.  While the DCI seasonal rotations still play a large role in the demand of certain cards, it has been noted that as Starcity opens happen more often, the impact of a seasonal rotation will lessen. The current exclusion to that is Extended. Since last year’s extended chopping happened, there has only been a Pro Tour to find results from, and that Pro Tour included sets that are no longer in Extended. With Extended the next DCI season to rotate in, now would be a good time to begin finding extended staples. These include cards with a proven track record and history, as well as any new cards that have shown potential. One decent resource you can use is the recent extended deck data from which hosts an extended event almost every week. Seeing the decks that have done well there could give you a general idea of how the beginning of the season is going to look and give you a good opportunity to get stocked early and cheap. If I were to give any advice for now, it would be to pick up the truly staple and cornerstone cards from decks that have done well in standard over the past 18 months, making sure to not pick up cards from Tenth edition and Timespiral block. A very quick list of cards to be on the lookout for to grab cheap would be something like this

Cryptic Command

Reflecting Pool


Noble Hierarch

Knight of the Reliquary



Cheap foil Jund pieces

Path to Exile

That’s all for this week, next week we’ll go more in depth about the extended cards you should be looking at, and we’ll go over the prices they can be commonly found for now compared to the prices in their prime, and find where the price should settle during the extended season.

Until next week,

Stephen Moss

MTGstephenmoss on twitter

*- Yes I know that Koth could rise after the next set, but chances are he’s going to fall.

10 thoughts on “Endless Horizons – Lotus Cobra Phenomenon

    1. Expect it to go higher as well. The angel and Skittles could both prove to be key pieces in each of ther themed decks. Eye of Ugin was a very low value mythic until Rise of the Eldrazi came out, and then it saw a price explosion.

  1. I get where you're trying to go with this, but you are re-writing history a bit to fit your thesis.

    Knight of the Reliquary was one of the most hyped cards in Conflux, and could be easily traded for $8-$10 at the prerelease. Lotus Cobra was not "considered junk when it first came out" – it was selling for over $40! All is Dust, too, was over $10 at release. Only Frost Titan of your examples was considered junk upon release.

    What you're really describing are two separate card value phenomena. The "Lotus Cobra Phenomenon," in my mind, describes a card that is hyped up early, but doesn't find a home right away. The backlash pushes it down lower than it should be, and so it has a nice rebound once a use for it is found.

    What you mostly are talking about here are cards that are plants for strategies that haven't been fully realized because the block hasn't yet finished releasing.

    I think Skithryx is the most likely of these to see a strong uptick in price. My guess is that the next set is 50% poison, and the last set is 80% poison. If Skittles ends up being the finisher of choice in that deck, I could see the dragon pushing $20-$25 easily.

    1. while the description was slightly off, some of the cards on the list still fit, maybe not as well i skithiryx. i remember people thinking that lux canon would be really good, and at the prerelease i'm pretty sure it was going for $10-12. now its like 4-5. i think that if the next set gives some nice tools for big red, it could spike. hand of the preators too, was 6-7, went down to 3.

      by the way thanks for the speculations. i have some hand of the praetors i couldn't seem to get rid of but i guess i might as well hang onto them and wait for the next set

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