Exodus was a monumental set in a great block, and perhaps its greatest legacy is not any single card – it is the colored rarity symbol. For the first time, casual players who knew nothing of pack order could tell which card of theirs was rare – something challenging when dealing with cards like Avizoa or Mind Bend that do not immediately look like rares or uncommons. Rarity symbols evened the trading field a lot, since players now know a little more about what cards make up a fair trade. I also suspect that it has had an impact on rare design. If players were able to immediately realize that clunkers like Gravebind were rares, they would more readily complain about getting trash in their packs. I don’t think it had a huge impact (certainly not like designing with drafting in mind) but it made bad-rare-reaction much more immediate.
Exodus introduced the Oath cycle, and you know one of those cards already. The rest were middling cards, but they fed into a then-new theme of making colored cards in rare cycles. The Mirage dragons like Canopy Dragon and Pearl Dragon were a good example of this; I can’t think of anything profound before that cycle. Beyond just the Oaths, I was impressed with just how much of Exodus is still played, from Eternal formats to casual tables. As usual, I compiled this list from Magic Traders, which uses Ebay finished auctions as a guide. Where things have looked uncertain, I cross-referenced to try and bring the most realistic price for these cards. Let’s look at the hits!
Did you know you can save three Mishra’s Factories with Cataclysm by animating them? Cool trick. The sweeper was popular in White Weenie decks, since you could do tricks like saving a Soltari creature, a Cursed Scroll or Scroll Rack, an Empyrial Armor or Land Tax, and still have a reasonable board left. Cataclysm remains popular even though it sees no Eternal play of consequence because it has a unique ability for White. Cataclysm shreds so much of the table at once that it can be good for EDH decks that can capitalize on that one big attacker with a piece of equipment. It is also useful for a lot of casual players, which lends to the price being what it is.
The City is, along with Ancient Tomb, the go-to land for colorless ramp in Legacy. It commands a huge price especially because Crucible of Worlds buys back the land when you lose it. The City has never been reprinted and is an immensely popular card in Eternal formats that gets best use when players use four copies. I would not be surprised to see the card become more expensive as the American Legacy GP comes up this season.
Did you know that some Exodus cards were printed as test foils? One of each color was printed, and City of Traitors was the land printed to see how the foiling process looked. Copies surface at times, but they are incredibly rare.
$18.00 (non-foil, of course!)
The best card to happen to Slivers and Elves is a frequently reprinted and popular casual card. Though the Coat has been reprinted a lot (from 7th to 2010) it holds a steady value across printings.
I remember playing Curiosity in UR Fish in Vintage, which dates me. You could tack it onto Cloud of Faeries or Grim Lavamancer and watch the cards roll in. It was one of two playable creature enchantments (the other being Rancor) because it usually paid for itself in cards. Curiosity is an uncommon and, though it was reprinted in 8th Edition, it holds casual value. I don’t think people are likely to trade for copies from you out of the binder, but it’s worth pulling out of nickel boxes to make sets to resell.
The Licids were an interesting experiment, but ultimately failed. They were not that powerful in terms of benefit, could still be killed at times, and were a rules headache. The new combat rules have all but killed any shot for Licids to be good, but Dominating Licid still holds some allure. I think the reason is that it’s hard to find creature-stealing effects that will stay on the board and just menace people. Vedalken Shackles is a good alternative, but it needs a huge Island commitment. The Licid just sits there, daring people to attack you instead of another player at the table. Perhaps that’s why Dominating Licid sits a bit above bulk price.
Witness the enduring popularity of Astral Slide decks to understand how much people love getting more uses out of their Enter-The-Battlefield creatures. Equilibrium can bring back your guys for another use or it can turn each of them into a Man-O-War. Both abilities are great and can be built around, especially with Flash creatures.
Equilibrium has been reprinted, but its value still holds up well. Again, this is another card that people would be quick to dismiss as a bulk rare. Remember its value and you’ll profit from it at some point.
Woe to the player sitting to the left of the planeswalker packing Ertai. They face a reuseable counter-wall that can just sit there and glare. Ertai is a surprisingly expensive card for something that sees no Eteral play. On the downside, he’s got an expensive cost for his ability and a glass jaw, but on the upside, he is inexpensive to summon and resummon. Ertai also allows for a lot of diplomacy, but mainly I think people feel he’s cool. There is a lot of casual appeal for a blue player in being able to drop the walking Counterspell!
From the makers of Channelball… Hatred was the right color to combine with Dark Ritual, and alongside City of Traitors, it powered up Hatred Black. The Black Weenie deck, which still has nostalgic devotees today, could kill out of nowhere on the third turn. A card on the power level of Hatred with a similar effect has not been retried again; something that reads “3BB: if you have more life than your opponent, win the game most of the time” is a little above the power curve. You can find Hatred for a dollar in bins (I did a few months ago) but they are worth a little more than double that. They are terrific to have in a trade binder because so many people want and remember them.
I remember busting this out of a pack and feeling confused and cheated. It sat in my binder for ten years before the Lands deck came out in Legacy. With Life from the Loam, the discard effect was turned into an advantage! Manabond took off from a junk rare to a valuable card. Around the time of the last American Legacy GP, it was between ten and twelve dollars. The card has settled from there due to Lands being sub-par, but it is still a good card to have in the collection.
Apparently, buyback is popular? The two best cards to buy back are Capsize and Whispers of the Muse, and neither will win you friends. Getting two Crystals out means that you become the ultimate pest. I suppose it also combines with new-school buyback cards like Evangelize as well. Like so many others, the Crystal is worth a bit more than bulk, so it can help to scoop up underpriced ones, if only to resell online.
Mind over Matter
According to R&D, this card was thought undercosted(!) because it could still enable Stasis decks to lock down the game. Back in the days, Stasis was the most annoying deck around. It packed cards like Serra Angel to kill you or Despotic Scepter to remove its own Stasis and untap in the process. I’m glad the card is gone from most Magic circles, but I admit that I miss Stasis’ art. We don’t have a clown-coyote dynamic in enough Magic art pieces these days.
Mind over Matter recently had a run because Temple Bell looked tempting. After five minutes of testing though, everyone realized how terrible that combination actually is. Mind over Matter is also seeing a little attention because it works well with High Tide and Candelabra of Tawnos in Legacy, which might combine with Time Spiral to do something. I wouldn’t hold onto my copies if I had them (in fact, I sold mine last month) because I just don’t see it doing something bonkers in Legacy.
Now THIS is a rare! The Proto-kroma had stacks on stacks of neat abilities and she was in everyone’s favorite casual color. She’s been reprinted, both in Anthologies and 10th Edition, but commands a buck.
From its start, people realized that this would let you cheat out an Archangel repeatedly, especially with Gaea’s Blessing. It forced White Weenie decks to pack Monk Realists at the ready, for example. Oath is still popular and is currently part of Gush Oath, one of the best decks in Vintage. It had its first Eternal breakout when Forbidden Orchard was printed, which allowed Oath to avoid ugly cards like Afterlife to get its triggers. My Vintage group, Team Meandeck, broke out Oath of Druids at an early Vintage tournament and rode Akroma and Spirit of the Night to victory on the back of a monoblue shell. For all the play it gets, Oath also remains modestly priced. At its heights of popularity, it rarely goes beyond ten dollars.
Price remains strong both in casual burn decks and Legacy Zoo builds, so it has a ready market. It is the power uncommon of the set and registers a bit of money. Kelly Reid and I pulled a bunch of these out of a thoroughly-picked store box last year, proving that you can still find deals here and there!
Recurring Nighmare combined with Survival of the Fittest to form one of my favorite decks of all time. These days, it sits on the sidelines because it has been banned in EDH and gets a bit of casual play. Every now and then, people try to make it work with Yosei, the Morning Star in Legacy, but I don’t think the deck is there yet. It still holds a lot of casual appeal because it thematically black both in its reanimation and sacrifice qualities. I would be happy to have Recurring Nightmares in my binder.
This card proved that RRR could get you a better effect than regenerating The Brute. It combines with Life from the Loam or Swans of Bryn Argoll to deal Shock after Shock. Though reprinted, it is still tradeable, especially in its original printing.
It is a wonder to me that the Sphere is still so cheap. It has been the cornerstone of the Vintage Stax deck for seven years now and sees a little bit of attention in Legacy as a sideboard card. Lack of casual appeal probably keeps the card where it is, but for a very playable card, it is inexpensive.
People like repeatable Fogs, apparently. The Spike momma had appeal with Recurring Nightmare because you could blink it in and out to recharge its counters. Now, Spore Frog with Genesis is the more attractive way to permaFog, but the Spike still has its fans.
What do we price the recently banned card at? It has taken a nosedive after the banning, and some sets sit unsold on Ebay for $85. The most recent closed auctions on Ebay show the card has continued to slide in value, so I am unsure of where to put a final price. I am pretty sure it is stabilizing now, though.
Survival is a fascinating card to end on, but it is not emblematic of Exodus, a set just as memorable for Oath of Druids and Mind over Matter. It was a tremendous set at the end of a great block. Thanks for following me into the Rath cycle and join me next week when we crash head-long into the financial ridiculousness of the Urza Block.