Wizards has once finally announced their From the Vault product to be released this August. As happens every year, it is now time for the 6½ months of speculation on the 15 card contents of this box set to begin. That may seem like an awful lot of speculating for only 15 cards, but when you consider that a lot of people are going to spend upwards of $100 on this thing, it make sense that it would excite them enough to talk about it.
This year the From the Vault theme is Legends. This seems to have been met with somewhat mixed reviews, but I have to say that I'm thrilled with the idea. EDH is being pushed hard, even if they changed the name on us, with the release of the Commander decks this summer featuring new generals and cards only available in those decks. Having an EDH themed From the Vault is certainly a logical followup for them.
So what 15 legends do we expect to see in this set? And more importantly, shouldn't it be called From the Vault: Legendary Creatures? I mean, "Legend" stopped being an officially recognized creature type (Leaving many, many old cards to be of the type "Legendary Creature - (null space)" until the grand creature type update) so it seems odd that they're pick up the old terminology. Why not FTV: Summon Legends? Speaking of which, I'd love to see a FTV: Interrupts and Mana Sources; I demand 10/11 Tarmogoyfs, damnit!
Holy tangent, Batman! There are 456 legendary creatures in Magic, and we need to talk about every one individually. Even Boris Devilboon. ESPECIALLY Boris Devilboon. He's my favourite card to ever produce Minor Demon tokens. He's also one of like 70 legends that are on the reserved list, which means my job just got a whole lot easier. It also means, unfortunately, that there will be no Daughter of Autumn, General Jarkeld, or Morinfen. Try not to lose any sleep over those ones.
Back to the original question: what do we expect? Well there are number of things that we should expect to see. Let's start with the most obvious: We can expect [card Teferi Mage of Zhalfir]Teferi[/card]; they showed us the art. We can expect at least one mono-colour legend of each colour. We can expect the obligatory five colour legend. We can expect to see zero wedge colour legends thanks to the Commander precons. We can expect to see at least one legend with an ability referencing legends. We can expect a legendary artifact. We can expect at least one Portal: Three Kingdoms card. Finally, and of most interest to the majority of people, we can expect a card with moderate-high value.
Let's start with the chase card, as that's the most interesting. So far, the chase cards (previously, Thunder Dragon, Berserk, and Mox Diamond) have been cards that did not previously exist in foil. I expect this trend to continue. Not only do I expect this to continue, it's really a necessity. Despite the immense list of legends that they can choose to print most of them aren't worth anything, at least not the non-foil versions. The only legends that carry any real value are those from Three Kingdoms, and that is where the chase rare will come from. This isn't exactly a bold prediction, but one of the two cards I've narrowed it down to may be. Despite the rarity of Three Kingdoms, most of the legends aren't worth a whole lot. This is probably attributed to their overall terribleness. Even seemingly awesome generals like Sun Quan, Lord of Wu don't carry much of a price tag. There are only two cards I've found that fit the criteria of having decent value and being desirable as EDH generals and not just collector's items.
The first possibility for money card is more wishful thinking than anything, and it's the one that's been talked about most from what I've seen. I'm talking, of course, about Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed. For those who don't know, this guy has climbed over the last year from being about a $30 card to being about a $130 card. Because this price increase is so recent, I don't think it's unreasonable for Wizards to reprint the card. This isn't an investment people have made for nearly two decades like power nine cards, and there are likely more people that stand to be happy with this decision than pissed off by it. Xiahou Dun being the chase rare is a distinct possibility (and an exciting one!), however I think the much more realistic choice is Hua Tuo, Honored Physician. It's not nearly as exciting, but it's still worth something and makes a decent general. Perhaps there'll be some shocking twist, but I'd say it's between these two guys. and about 75/25 in favour of Hua Tuo.
Next comes the obligatory five colour legend. There's only 11 of these guys which makes things nice and easy. Karona, False God is right out as it's been brought to my attention that current R&D is embarassed that this thing saw print. After the love Slivers got with the premium decks, I think we can assume no slivers this time around either. As much as I love Child of Alara, it would basically require the FTV to come with a rules tip card explaining how it works in EDH, so sadly that one's probably a no go. Basically, our options here are really Scion of the Ur-Dragon, Reaper King, Horde of Notions,Cromat and...**sigh**....Atogatog. Again, this slot really comes down to two cards for me, neither of which are what people really want. Reaper King is too niche, dragons already had a FTV, and filling a deck with worthwhile elementals proves harder than you think. I'm about 90% sure this slot is going to Cromat, but a surprise upset by Atogatog would not surprise me at all.
There are only three legendary creatures that interact with legendary creatures in any meaningful way in EDH: Captain Sisay, Empress Galina, and Tsabo Tavoc. Not much to be said here; Sisay will totally be in there, but I wouldn't be shocked to see Tsabo alongside her (But not instead of).
Artifact creatures is another easy one: the only options (Excluding esper guys) are Karn, Silver Golem, Bosh, Iron Golem, and Memnarch. We just had Karn in FTV: Relics, so I think this one goes hands down to Memnarch.
Blue is already known, and I've already made my pick for green, so let's go to red. There are a few guys that I'd consider being options here. There's a good case to be made for Jaya Balard, Task Mage, Akroma, Angel of Fury, and Kumano, Master Yamabushi. Mono-red EDH decks seem to be few and far between, however, so I think the mono-red slot will actually be used to try to expand the audience beyond strictly the casual market. To that end, I think Squee, Goblin Nabob has a pretty solid chance, but far more likely a choice is Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker who has both competitive and casual applications.
Ignoring the chance of seeing Xiahou reprinted, this brings us to black. Popular EDH generals that could fill this slot include Anowon, the Ruin Sage, Chainer, Dementia Master, Geth, Lord of the Vault, Kagemaro, First to Suffer, Lim-Dul, the Necromancer, Maga, Traitor of Mortals, Myojin of Night's Reach, Seizan, Perverter of Truth, and Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon. If we expand the search to popular cards beyond just generals, we also get Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni and Visara, the Dreadful. Some of these cards I think are disqualified as being too new. Ink-Eyes already has a promo version which makes it unlikely, but hardly impossible. To be honest, I want it to Visara. Every casual deck with a decent commitment to black can run her, and if I was choosing beyond just one of each colour I would absolutely pick her. However, I think this is gonna be where Wizards pulls one of their wacky audibles (I'm looking at you, Kird Ape!) and throws us Phage the Untouchable. And I'm fine with that.
Finally, this brings us to white. I saved white for last because it has, by far, the most options. Cards that could be reasonably selected from white include Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Commander Eesha, Crovax, Ascendant Hero, Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, Iona, Shield of Emeria, Isamaru, Hound of Konda, Jareth, Leonine Titan, Kemba, Kha Regent, Konda, Lord of Eiganjo, Lin-Sivvi, Defiant Hero, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Mageta the Lion, Raksha Golden Cub, Reya Dawnbringer, and Yosei, the Morning Star. And that's just generals! There are plenty more cards like Kataki, War's Wage that could be thrown in this slot as solid legends that people actually care about, but we've already got enough to deal with. This is a slot that I fear for, because I think there's far too high a chance that they'll pick Isamaru. People do use it as an EDH general, many have fond memories of running it in standard and extended, and God knows it'll probably continue to show up in random zoo decks from time to time. This is a slot that I would love to see filled by Raksha, but there seems to be just too much incentive for them to go with Isamaru. Blarg.
As for the remaining slots, it's pretty much anyone's guess. With all the different options for multicoloured legends, as well as the possibility of multiple mono-coloured legends from a single colour, there's no real way to be sure beyond this. I've gone on long enough so I won't bore you by listing every possible card and discussing why I do or don't think it will be in, but know that I have considered every card carefully in presenting you this, my final prediction:
From the Vault: Soothsaying
Zur, the Enchanter
Fall set preview card
I can tell that my own preferences are showing considering five of the seven multicolour cards (Not counting Cromat) have blue in them, but this is my official prediction and I'm standing by it. Meet me back here in six months when I feast on crow!