Welcome back to our romp through Mercadian Masques! We'll be taking a look at the back end of the set, along with the big-ticket foils in the set. Let's get started with our list...
A long time ago in Standard, Nether Spirit was part of a blue/black/red deck that would aim to discard one of its two copies of the Spirit and then start recurring it as a blocker, then win condition. It was even better if you could pitch it off of a Gitaxian Probe! It's also an all-star with Disentomb, making a 2/2 for a single mana that's challenging to remove. Later players would exploit this with Contamination, making a hard lock that, if set up early, a lot of decks could not break out of.
Another EDH hit, the Matrix makes things much better when you point it at them. If that thing happens to be a Commander, you can rack up some serious general damage in an EDH game. I like to think of it as sort of a “Mantle of Akroma.” It's even more fun when you help out a buddy by saving their monsters with it! It's traded very infrequently, so it can be good to sing the praises of this card to other traders who like EDH. It goes in any deck, which is pretty rad.
An elegantly simple land, so highly disruptive in play that it was banned in Masques Block for making games take too long.
Rishadan Port plays on some real peculiarities of the way Magic is played, and I mean this on a fundamental level. In just about every other game that involves drawing cards every turn, you draw at the beginning; not so with Magic. Instead, the upkeep phase lets you do little hijinks before anyone sees a new card, and that little quirk makes the difference between Port being junk and an all-star. If it had only read that you could activate it after the draw step, it would be collecting dust in bins. However, that the Port can slow opponents down by a turn or more, every turn, makes it incredibly powerful.
Rishadan Port saw play all through its Standard reign, following through Extended and even Legacy and Vintage. In Legacy, it sees play in Goblins and Lands, both being decks that benefit from slowing down an opponent and can spend the spare mana each turn. It sees marginal play in Vintage in the manabases of MUD decks. Rishadan Port has been ticking up in price; during GP: Columbus last year, they were $17, and they've increased by about 40% since then. What a jump!
$23.25 ($90+ in foil)
Because, hey, you need something for those Cytoplast decks, right?
I don't get the huge appeal in this card, since it's basically a 5/5 for 5 with trample that hates other colors. That said, it can get big and people like their +1/+1 counters. Surprisingly expensive for a green beater.
This is kind of in line with Hatching Plans, in that it makes you do weird stuff to get a pile of cards. I see this card appealing to people who like auras and equipment. Imagine tacking it on something bearing a Sword! Either block it and Ancestral Recall me, or take a whole heap of bad effects. Even more annoying when it can regenerate.
From feeding Argentum Masticore every turn and taking away Bazaar of Baghdad's drawback to making Survival of the Fittest hum, Slimefoot and Squee is the utility creature to lust after. When I use him with Survival, I remember that Simpsons episode where they're in Japan and Bart finds a fish that talks and will grant him wishes. He ignores this because he's busy chanting “knife goes in, guts come out!” I think “Slimefoot and Squee goes in, dude comes out!” when I recycle it over and over.
Slimefoot and Squee's days of being a $10 card are over, which saddens me because I bought my copy at that price. He took a big hit in Tenth Edition, losing 80% of his value. At least the foils are still stupidly expensive!
Kelly Reid will tell you this is the best land in EDH because it is often relevant and annoying. Mainly, I think Kelly uses it to drop equipment from creatures. It's a colorless source, so it'll get past any protection that a Sword is offering. It also randomly protects against things like Razormane Masticore. The Tower is another colorless utility land in a set full of them.
Free spells are perennially popular. This saw play in Free Spell Necro, in Reanimator, Manaless Ichorid and all the Suicide Black decks you've ever seen. Unmask offers this great promise: for the cost of losing your worst black spell in hand, it'll rip out the best spell from the opponent – you even get to cast spells because you aren't tapped out! Usually, this effect costs a couple points of life and a black mana, so the discount is pretty good here. Unmask is thought of as the black Force of Will for good reason. It also has some sweet art. Unmask was popular from the beginning and it has legions of fans.
Again, people like free things. Vine Dryad appeals a lot to the casual player (once they read it a couple times to figure it out). The coolest thing you could do with it was play it on your opponent's first turn, before you even had a turn of your own! Slap a Briar Shield on that thing and go nuts. It was a cornerstone of 10 Land Stompy, a deck from ages and ages ago in Vintage that could put a Rancor on this lady and start charging in. Vine Dryad is now outclassed by anything that can stand up in a stiff breeze, but it has a few fans yet.
Masques has a lot of crazy expensive foils, mostly due to Vintage and EDH. They are really hard to price because many rarely sell. You can be sure that Gush ($18) and Dark Ritual ($23.50) will have ready fans because they're Vintage staples. Before it was restricted, Brainstorm ($33) was hugely expensive in Vintage, often clocking over $60, and it wasn't rare!
Other cards are largely driven by the EDH market. The banner child of blue in the format, Bribery, is $37 and has ready buyers for any copies you have. On the other hand, depending on the day and the bidders, you might get $22 for a Dust Bowl or you might get closer to $40. Land Grant ($8) is one of the hidden gems in the set if you can find it in a bulk foils bin.
Next week, we'll look at the grim followup sets to Masques, which I assure you, have valuable cards hidden in them...