Taming Tempest

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Tempest holds a special place for me as a collector and trader. It was the first set where we saw “good” cards that were not just anomalies. Sure, Mirage Block had some goodies that heralded modern design, like Vampiric Tutor, Nekrataal and Hammer of Bogardan, but there's a reason that Tempest Block is such a fan favorite. It seems that around that time, R&D started pushing the curve on power level. We ended up with cards like Living Death and Cursed Scroll, which turned out to be powerhouses that exhibited design elegance not seen before in a Magic set.

This week, we are going to take a romp through Rath to look at the sure-fire hits of Tempest, as well as the unknown money cards. It'll be a nostalgic and profitable adventure! I am using MOTL pricing and spreadsheets on these cards to bring you accurate data about what the market really is, not just what a dealer reckons it is.

Let's go!

Avenging Angel

Angels and Dragons hold a special appeal for a lot of collectors. The price on these two tribes has dropped; I don't know if less people are collecting the cards, or whether there are just too many to “catch 'em all.” The Angel clocks in at the start of the list at a modestly above-bulk price.

Price: $1.25

The Altar got a cool early start when it was part of one of those quaint, pre-Storm combinations involving Enduring Renewal and Ashnod's Altar. Kill an artifact creature of yours that costs 1, replay it for an extra mana until you generate infinite mana, and then start tossing it at your opponent. It's just about the most successful Altar Theme Deck there is, which isn't saying much!I have some good news for you, though. Thanks to its low casting cost and fun of milling, the Altar has a suitably insane after-market value. Did you know this thing regularly sells for over $5? If you are going to pillage a dollar box at your local store, keep an eye out for the Altar Of Abe Lincoln In Your Wallet.Price: $5.50AlurenAluren had its best days in Extended when paired with Cavern Harpy and then saw a second life when joined together with Imperial Recruiter in Legacy. Aluren still carries a premium due to being part of a halfway-playable combo as well as being nostalgic for many older players. Everyone knows Aluren is worth something, but you can benefit by knowing exactly how much.Price: $4.75Ancient TombTempest had several “power uncommons” and this is certainly one of them. Inquest Magazine's infamously-picked “worst card in the set” (picks from other sets included Dream Halls and Necropotence) blew up Extended because it powered up clunky combos like the aforementioned Enduring Renewal deck. Later, the Tomb of Boom saw play in Tinker decks in Extended (yes, Tinker was legal for awhile) and still sees plenty of play in both Legacy and Vintage.Price: $4.50ChillChill violates the color pie in some absurd ways. What is Blue supposed to do in the time it stalls Red? Draw more awful counterspells to stop Shocks? It's not like it will be mounting an efficient attack with its army of Cloud Elementals and Spindrift Drakes. Chill saw some play in Extended and now, shows up to slow down Goblins in Legacy and really annoy that burn player in your playgroup. It is another “power” uncommon in the set.Price: $1Coffin QueenMy favorite use of Coffin Queen was to grab someone's Squee, Goblin Nabob in a Survival of the Fittest mirror to exile it. Such tricks! Coffin Queen sees more legitimate use as a perennial fan favorite in multiplayer decks, since she can pull out a friend from any graveyard. She's also sort of goth-mixed-with-Hindu-god with her black dress and four arms.Price: $2.25Corpse DanceWhen I was growing up in my awful phase of Magic, Corpse Dance was the coolest thing around. You could animate a Spike Feeder and get some life, you could use a Thrull Surgeon to dismantle someone's hand, and if you could convince a friend that end-of-turn timing actually did work the way you said, you could get two taps out of a reanimated utility creature. Corpse Dance is still a popular EDH card, especially because its light black mana cost means you can splash it in decks that only tangentially run the color.Price: $2.00Cursed ScrollIf you played during Tempest, you either have a story of screwing someone out of their Cursed Scrolls in trading or you have a story about it happening to you. A card that is unintuitively good, the Scroll has been an all-star since its printing. The problem is that people often think their Scrolls command Tempest-era prices, when the truth is that the market has significantly dropped on them. They still command a premium, but good luck convincing someone they are worth what they actually sell for if you are trading for this sentiment-laden card.Price: $6.75Diabolic EdictAnother “power” uncommon, the Edict regularly goes for a buck. The most popular way to kill Shroud creatures still gets play in sideboards and maindecks.Price: $1EarthcraftThis green enchantment can be combined with Squirrel Nest to make an infinite amount of mammals. It commands a respectable price, even though it is banned in Legacy and sees no attention in Vintage. My best guess is that a lot of people love their elf decks (and you can take that one to the bank) and Earthcraft is pretty darned good in Elf decks. Some amount of its price is doubtless due to speculation that the DCI will unban the card, but it is mostly casually driven.Price: $6.75Eladamri's VineyardThanks to the loss of mana burn, the Vineyard became a little better. It lost some of its power because against control decks, it sometimes functioned as a green Cursed Scroll when they could not dispose of the mana on their turn. It sees some play in monogreen Survival decks, Elf decks and EDH.Price: $2Eladamri, Lord of LeavesMore accurately, Lord of “Leave Us Alone!” The first elf Head Honcho clocks in at a respectable price because he gives a nearly-unique effect to elves in his color. The only other affordable card that mimics him is Dense Foliage, but you cannot Wirewood Herald that enchantment up! Despite seeing no play, Eladamri showcases the effect that the little green dorks have on the market, a trend I call “Elf Power.”Price $6.75
The Medallions (Emerald Medallion, Pearl Medallion, Jet Medallion,Sapphire Medallion, Ruby Medallion)

These little artifacts even share their naming lineage with the original Moxes, so you know they're good. Sapphire Medallion has always been at the top of the heap because it combined well with the buyback cards in the set to make a seriously annoying Block deck. Cards like Jet Medallion provide acceleration in colors that often lack permanent mana assistance, and the Jet and Ruby are especially good because Black and Red have excellent high-mana spells. A brisk trade in EDH and casual circles keeps these cards popular.

Price: $3.25 (Emerald) - $5.25 (Sapphire)


Though it has been outclassed by Tsabo's Decree (the original Rebel-slayer), Extinction still sees some traction as pinpoint removal against tribal decks. It can be a good card to trade to people who have lots of Allies, Elves and Angels running around their casual groups.

Price: $1


Grindstone sat in anguish for years until Painter's Servant pulled it to life. I remember wondering whether I should buy them for $3 when the Servant was spoiled! Regrets, I've had a few. Grindstone sees some play in Legacy, but it is held back because to really cook, the decks also need to run Imperial Recruiter, which brings its own problems. Grindstone used to be the star child of Tempest, the first really visible price explosion in Eternal. It has settled down from a high around $30, but it still commands a premium.

Price: $14.50

Hanna's Custody

This enchantment also falls into the “grab from the bulk pile” category. It keeps your toys safe in EDH and other multiplayer formats, and it's good enough to command a buck. The art is an interesting and unconventional portrayal of Hanna, which makes me a bit more fond of the card.

Price: $1

Horned Sliver

I remember that one friend who loved his Slivers. He went to Origins that year so he could buy a Sliver Queen! The joys of pre-internet card collecting... Everyone had that friend who loved Slivers, and they probably still do. Horned Sliver is just one of the many Slivers that carry a hefty price tag. If you see it in a commons box, pick it up! The trampler is worth considerably more than bulk, and there is a brisk market for it.

Price: $2.25


When a judge wants to ascend to The Final Level, they must solve The Riddle Of Humility:

“In my graveyard, I have two copies of Humility, Shifting Sky, Story Circle, Opalescence, Blood Moon, Living Lands, and Pandemonium. I cast Replenish.

What happens?”

(I give it four hours before this is solved in the comments and six hours before someone posts an even harder one)

Humility is Legacy-playable and it's in decent demand in casual circles. Since Humility plays well with Man-Lands, it gets attention in UW Control decks that plan to Wrath and Humiliate the opposition. I have seen the card double in price in the last year, from $3 to its current price. Humility is worth finding and trading for, since many players want the card for their collection. The Foglio art doesn't hurt, either.

Price: $6.50


Blue's best tutor is still on top. Intuition has had a strange life. It saw a lot of play in Extended, since you could go get your Saproling Bursts and then Replenish them or find those Accumulated Knowledges for cards. I have fond memories of using Intuition to draw massive stacks of cards in Vintage decks like Goth Slaver. The proper way to use it with AK, by the way, is to cast it after you have drawn your first AK. That way, you can stack up a draw-three and a draw-four alongside each other.

Intuition currently sees play in Legacy as a tutor for the Blue Lands deck, and it has been picked as the next “speculation” card by some pundits. It is unplayed in Vintage because the classical combo with it and AK or Deep Analysis is easily foiled with a Spell Pierce. Intuition is one of the banner cards of the set and you can still find people who value it around $5-7.

Price: $16.50

Lotus Petal

Since it has “Lotus” in the name, it's probably good. Seeing play as a four-of in Legacy and a perennial casual favorite, Lotus Petal is one of those especially rare cards – a power common! They are highly liquid as a tradable card, so they are worth picking up or putting in your binder if you have spares.

Price: $2.25


Aside from the incredible Draw-7s like Windfall and Timetwister, competitive players are left with slim pickings when it comes to more Blue card draw. Meditate has always been a classical card for this, especially when fueling High Tide combo decks. What's the harm in giving the opponent another turn when they'll be dead before they can use it? Meditate commands a surprisingly high price tag because it is both efficient (though casual) card draw, and because it can play well in thematic decks with cards like Smokestack and Tangle Wire.

Price: $4.50


Perish has seen some play lately in Legacy, since it can do a number against Survival decks and clears away the normally-untouchable Progenitus. The Tempest version commands a slight premium.

Price: $2


These “taxing” effects are hugely popular with the casual crowd; Ghostly Prison is also appealing. The reason is that, especially in multiplayer, when you offer an opponent the chance to either attack you for eight mana or attack that other guy for free, they'll usually pick the latter. Propaganda is one of those classic “rattlesnakes” that tells opponents to go elsewhere, all the while being inconspicuous. It also gets attention in Legacy, where it can stall out a Dredge deck or stop creature hordes from finishing the game too quickly.

Price: $3

Rathi Dragon

More proof that Dragons have a casual appeal, the Rathi Dragon has an above-bulk price despite being reprinted in 9th. It also has the attraction of being realistically the first tournament-playable Dragon, aside from awesome Shivan Dragon sagas from early Magic.

Price: $1.50


Yet another power common! Reanimate is hugely popular because people figured out that even though you took eight points of life, you have a Verdant Force on the table. That's something to be proud of. Reanimate spiked when Entomb was legalized because it is the best reanimation spell in the game. Luckily, it was printed at common, but that has done little to sate players. It was even reprinted in a boxed set and that hasn't touched the price! Reanimate is a relatively stable card to hold onto, since I think it will always command at least five dollars. That makes me regret trading three away for a Pithing Needle (before it was reprinted).

Price: $5.50

Reflecting Pool

Here's Reflecting Pool's life cycle: first year of life: generate any color alongside City of Brass in some pretty cool Standard decks. Sit stagnant for ten years. Get reprinted in the same set as those Vivid lands and shoot up to a phenomenal price. Leave Standard, drop to $4, then benefit from Extended being changed around. That brings us to today, where this yo-yo card is expected to see a lot of play in Extended. I prefer the old Tempest copy to the newer one, and it commands a slight premium.

Price: $8.00


Can you believe this thing is a rare? I can't imagine how many annoyed players tossed it aside in anger. I can imagine calls to Customer Service asking why the pack didn't come with a rare! Sarcomancy, along with Carnophage, formed the bedrock of the Hatred Black deck, which was very popular. So many players have fond memories of making Zombies on the first turn that this card is still valuable.

Price: $3.25

Scroll Rack

Scroll Rack sat at $4 for years until it got hyped up with Treasure Hunt. That card didn't pan out, but the Rack has stayed up in price. It is highly tradable to EDH players because it is a colorless card draw/selection tool. There is also speculation based around Land Tax; if the white enchantment is legalized in Legacy, you can expect that Scroll Rack will, at least briefly, flirt at Grindstone-level prices as players get hugely excited about a mediocre combination.

Price: $8.25

Selenia, Dark Angel

For years, Selenia was the only BW Legend, and being an Angel made her even more special. Selenia is hard to find in local stores and she is moderately popular as an EDH general. For these reasons, she is traded above bulk.

Price: $1.25


Tradewind Rider

One issue with cards like Tradewind Rider is that there is a huge crop of casual players who have no idea that something like this exists. Tradewind Rider is one of the most frustrating cards of all time and it has just plummeted in value. You can, for example, play it in just about any Elf deck, powered out by Birchlore Rangers to make the blue mana. From there, it is a board control engine. This card used to be a monster! If you paired it with Awakening, you could get three bounces by putting the Awakening trigger on the stack in your upkeep and responding to it. The Rider did nothing short of dominate Standard when it was legal. If you have them in your binder, do your best to introduce newer casual players to the bouncing machine.

Despite my rant about it fading into obscurity, Tradewind Rider still has plenty of fans, who have maintained a decent price for the card.

Price: $2.00

Verdant Force

So, does every player get a token or just you? Every upkeep? Huh, this guy looks pretty good,then... Verdy is a beloved card, the original One-Man Army. Despite being reprinted, many players just want to run the original if they can conjure one up. It sees play in many casual games, and has been known to occasionally pop up in Eternal formats.

Price: $3.25

Vhati il-Dal

Vhati does some pretty cool things as an EDH general and has other casual uses as well. I don't know why it specifically is worth much more than bulk, but it has a unique effect that makes for great politics. You can imagine making an attacking creature shrink down after an opponent has declared attackers, seeing that Primeval Titan bite it to a Saproling! He can also imitate Forcefield decently well, in either his Tempest or Timeshifted incarnations.

Price: $1.25


It's sort of cute that the most expensive card in the set is a boring, role-playing uncommon. Since it sees play in Eternal formats as a 4-of in plenty of decks, Wasteland has had a strong appeal for years. The price has really taken off on these, by the way. They started going up around GP: Columbus (Pt.1) and have been a steady gainer since. They are anomalous because, aside from Mana Drain, I cannot think of another uncommon that demands such a high price tag.


Winds of Rath

Wrath of God analogues are popular in Highlander formats that allow only one copy of any named card. Winds of Rath can also protect your creatures if you are playing one of the popular “Voltron” decks that aim to pile on Auras and Equipment upon your army.

Price: $1

For a collector or trader, Tempest also represents a good benchmark for valuing a collection that you are considering buying. It is the first tangible departure from the “Dead Zone” of Magic that began with The Dark. You can figure that any collection of a person who was actively playing during Tempest is stocked with a few goodies. The only caution I have is that if these players were tournament players, they might still remember paying $18 for Cursed Scrolls and the like, and might subsequently haggle about those sorts of cards.

Join me next week, when we move on to the next set!

8 thoughts on “Taming Tempest

  1. "They are anomalous because, aside from Mana Drain, I cannot think of another uncommon that demands such a high price tag."

    I thought Force of Will was uncommon…could be wrong though, I always get those Older sets mixed up.

    Either way, Great overview! I appreciate these articles as a player who started "late" in Time Spiral.

  2. This is my favorite kind of financial article, and similar to those I like to write. Great stuff.

    Small note: Reanimate is an uncommon. Exhume is a common, that might be where the confusion lies.

    1. Thanks so much, Chas! You're correct about Reanimate. I once saw a guy, last year, who had sharpie'd something on the back of a reanimate. When I said "you know that card is (at that time) $5, right?" and he just said "whatever, it's an uncommon." Wish I could rip up Mr. Lincolns like that!

    1. It's kind of a spiritual analog to your articles here, but I think the continuation part is a bit of a misnomer. My suggestion is to just take another turn after this one so you can already be at next week and reading my column on Stronghold!

  3. As one of those for whom Tempest represents our Halcyon Days, I really enjoyed this walk down memory lane. Great article, even for those of us less concerned with the finance!

  4. Really enjoyed it, honestly I deal very much in older cards that people dont know the value of, it may be helpful at the end of the article to possibly summarize a small list so people could throw it in Notepad or something to keep in mind for later trades. Otherwise great article always enjoy set summaries.

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