For all the trash talk I gave to Mercadian Masques last week, it's still a pretty good set for traders to make a dime on. It has a few powerhouses for actual tournament play, but most of the value is driven by the casual market. It also has some really high-value foils. To my knowledge (and I will be corrected below if not) that MM had increased foil frequency print runs, meaning more foils. You don't have as many ridiculously priced commons like you do with Urza Block, but there are a lot that are in demand.
Because MM is a big set with plenty of cards worth over a buck, I'll be splitting this article into two parts so you don't suffer from information overload. We'll go through the first half today and the second half, along with foils, next week (MM is front-loaded alphabetically with good cards...). Let's get started!
With the removal of mana burn, some cards won and some lost. Black Market is a huge winner for multiplayer games. I try to work it into every EDH deck I can cram it into, where it's like some sort of ultra Gilded Lotus. With any amount of time, Black Market produces absurd amounts of mana. For example, in the last set of games I played, Black Market went over twenty counters in each game in about three turns. The real pain is finding out what to do with those crazy piles of mana.
We know this card is a boss, but what surprises me was how long it took people to string it together with fetchlands. We're not talking Onslaught here, but the classic ones like Flood Plain. By the time Bob Maher's Oath deck came around, people knew to string Brainstorm together with shuffle effects, but it wasn't immediately obvious. Even decks like CounterPost that ran Thawing Glaciers didn't couple it with Flood Plain. These days, Brainstorm gets coupled with as many shuffles as possible. It formed the backbone of blue in Vintage, to the point where it was restricted for being just too powerful. In Legacy, it is mostly constrained to CounterTop decks, but it's immensely popular, both in Ice Age and its reprint in MM.
There was a day when Bribery was a chumpy little casual-only card. I remember bulking them out at fifty cents. What a terrible memory. Bribery is just about the most powerful blue card in EDH these days because it can turn into Blightsteel Colossus, Emrakul Lagasse, Iona or any other manner of monsters from opposing decks. As more good EDH creatures are printed, the better Bribery gets. Though it was printed again in 8th, it's still in high demand. It's especially good to know how much this card goes for because you might run into people like me who have no idea!
Charisma appeals to people who build decks full of pingers. They tack it on Prodigal Sorcerer and slam away. It doesn't sound especially powerful, but people like Living The Dream. You can make the most of their love of creature control by knowing the value of this weirdly-priced card.
Regal Force at a discount! I suppose this is for people who need eight of this effect for their elf decks? Anyway, worth knowing about. You didn't expect Urza Block level card draw, did you?
Now this is a card I can get behind! It used to be one of my favorite non-Trix Donate combos. Name Wall and give to the opponent! Now that Defenders took out that little trick, Conspiracy works for people who want to pack all sorts of monsters into a tribal deck. It's strictly casual, but people tend to enjoy the card.
The two uses I remember for this card were in Tinker decks from Extended and 5-color. If you are unfamiliar, 5-color is a format with 250 card decks and no Highlander restrictions. Thus, you could go get your single Sanctuary against aggressive decks and quintuple your life total, removing it when you got control of the game. It works better in 5C than EDH because you can run all manner of redundant cards in 5C, so you don't run much of a risk from milling out.
Though it has been extensively printed, people really like this copy. It's got Rebecca Guay art, after all! Foils are absurdly expensive.
Again, people casually love this card. It's easily summoned with Sengir Autocrat and it makes sense, thematically, with Suicide Black decks. It's also noteworthy for being a black creature with Trample.
Dust Bowl is a very popular card for EDH and other formats where you can afford a few colorless lands. Since it fits in every EDH deck, it's got a bit of appeal. While blasting people every turn with Dust Bowl usually doesn't work in most formats, being able to tank a Maze of Ith or Gaea's Cradle can make you friends around the table. Turning every excess land drawn into Wasteland can be potent when used judiciously.
Food Chain is the Great Green Hope. People want to make it a legit combo in Legacy, combining with Evoke monsters or Goblins. It's not amazing, but folks still want to stockpile them in hope. I wouldn't hold onto them on Legacy hopes. At this point, you can make an Evoke deck with them that will put out Emrakul on turn 3 or 4 without disruption, but that's simply too slow. Get rid of these guys if you have them.
People just don't like getting their toys blown up... Fountain Watch steps a little further than Leonin Abunas, protecting your gear from meddlers. Fountain Watch has a surprising price tag, and it's gone up a bit as time goes by. It's popular for EDH decks full of toys, like Hanna and Sharuum decks.
Recently unrestricted, Gush forms the backbone of several Vintage decks. It's still too good for Legacy, apparently, but it gets good play in Vintage. It's got a good price for a common and people need four copies, so they tend to move well.
Again, we've got a colorless land that makes a little bit of utility. People like it to trigger their Academy Rector or get a little value from a guy that's gonna die anyway. It's largely outclassed by Miren, The Moaning Well, but if you need two of the effect and cannot afford Diamond Valley, the Market has you covered.
If you really don't want to deal with Burn players, the Mask is great. It sees 1-of sideboard play in Legacy with decks packing Enlightened Tutor, but it's mainly for casual magic. You've got a friend with a pinger deck; use the Mask to stop them.
This was one of the first cards I fell in love with, mainly from 10-land Stompy. You'd use it to pull up a Forest in the land-thin deck. If you need a dual land or Rav-dual from your deck and cannot swing buying fetchlands, then Land Grant is a fine substitute in casual circles. It also sees play in 2-Land Belcher in Legacy, since it doesn't trigger Goblin Charbelcher and functionally acts as a land. It's an uncommon that holds a bit of value and a lot of casual attention; since you're unlikely to unload these to other traders, I suggest sending off four-packs to Ebay or buylists.
There are, I think, acceptable and unacceptable ways to take extra turns in casual Magic. For example, Time Walk is a little too good, and recurring it is inexusable. Time Stretch is pretty good on its own and every EDH deck with it has three or four ways to get the stupid thing back again. However, Magistrate's Scepter makes for an entirely fair extra turn now and then. People see it coming, but it's only when you tack on ways to put charge counters on that it gets out of hand. You can use Coretapper, Power Conduit, or Energy Chamber to get a deal on those extra turns. Use Coretapper with Skeleton Shard and take infinite turns with enough mana!
This is the closest we get to Force of Will on a budget, and it's infrequently a good counter in Vintage. For example, it was played in Pitch Storm because it functioned to counter opposing Counterspells (by turning them on itself – trust me, it works). It also steals Ancestral Recall now and then. Unfortunately, Spell Pierce has changed the way blue decks function and Misdirection isn't as good as it once was, compared to the new Force Spike. That said, it's worth having a copy or two for both casual and Vintage decks. It trades briskly.
On that note, we'll take a break until next week! We'll look at hits like Rishadan Port and look at what the most expensive foil in Masques is... it's probably not what you think!
Until next week,