Editor's note: A few days ago, on Insider, I ran down the Mythic Rares in NPH, but I'm going to change it up a little bit today. I'm going to review the Rares, but instead of putting it on Insider, I'll be making it free for everyone to read! Normally this sort of review would be an Insider feature, but I'd like our non-members to see what they've been missing! If you like the content you see on this site and would like to help support us and our writers, consider signing up for an Insider subscription! I've included the introduction from the Mythic Rare article for our non-Insiders that are reading this article today.
New Phyrexia is almost here. It’s been three months of Birds and Blades, and with the third set of Scars of Mirrodin block merely days away, it’s time to gather what we know and wage war against bad trading decisions. With a new set, there are always potential sleepers and it’s our job on Quiet Speculation to show you the way. While I won’t go into a review of every application for every new card, I’ll be sure that you have a complete understanding of what to do when you get to your prerelease. I’ll be quoting prices based on online presale numbers, which are the best metric we have as of now. In general, Ebay tends to be lower by a few percent, but as long as we’re comparing apples to apples, the numbers will all line up.
Bear in mind that Magic’s prices are dominated by Standard competitive play, and that my analysis comes with exactly that bias. Commander / EDH can also drive prices, but not to the extent that Standard can. Legacy, Vintage and Extended are all healthy, enjoyable formats and all that good stuff, but Standard is the format that makes the trading game work. These cards all have their merits, and not every card was designed to be good in competitive Magic. Bearing that in mind, my only goal is to tell you where to put your money, not how to play around the kitchen table.
Birthing Pod - $4
Its presale price seems to be a stretch, but the card has power for certain. It's a natural fit in Elf-style decks where the power level between 1,2 and 3 CMC creatures jumps up very quickly, and most aggro decks can find a way to abuse the engine. The biggest appeal is using a mana dork to pay the mana cost and fuel the greusome rebirth of another mana dork, and the ability to fetch lifegain creatures or other creatures with an ETB effect is also quite appealing. Between Fauna Shaman, Birthing Pod and Green Sun's Zenith, it should be fairly easy to chain into a big ol' fattie. It's easy to ignore Phyrexian mana symbols when figuring out mana curves, but after a couple expenditures of 2 life, the cost becomes very real. $4 seems high, but it's not entirely unwarranted given the potential applications of this card. Anything that can tutor can always get better in a new context, so even if Birthing Pod sees little play, it will always be one creature away from being an all-star. My verdict: wait and see.
Blade Splicer - $2
I'm hearing a lot of talk about this card and I'm right up there on the bandwagon. 3 mana is a very reasonable for the array of dudes you get. The granting of First Strike to all your golems makes Precursor Golem very interesting indeed. The fact that the 1/1 grants First Strike is important because, frankly, who wants to blow some removal on a 1/1 when there's a 3/3 up in your face? This 2-for-1 seems a natural fit for Stoneforge decks, even if they're not as good as Squadron Hawks in terms of sheer "dude density". $2 seems like the correct presale price, but it's on my short list of potential rising stars. The subtle power level of Blade Splicer is not immediately apparent, but I suspect the card will see play in a variety of decks during its tenure in Standard.
Bludgeon Brawl - $1
There is not a lot to say about Bludgeon Brawl as far as competitive Magic is concerned, but I must tip my hat to the designer. The flavor is flawless. I doubt it has constructed implications, but casual players will enjoy it and it will have some very interesting applications in Commander.
Caged Sun - $4
Caged Sun is a throwback to Mirari's Wake, which has remained a popular casual and Commander card since its release. $4 is the correct price for this, even if it will see little competitive play. It's the type of card that every casual and commander will want, so its price will stay pretty high. There is an off-chance that some kind of Grand Architect deck uses these to ramp mana to absurd levels, since it fits into the "machine" flawlessly. If this happens, get ready for a big run on the card.
The Chancellor Cycle
I'm addressing these as a whole because there isn't a good precedent for comparison. With the exception of Chancellor of the Dross, they're all a modest dollar on presale which seems to be low at first glance. The classic Leyline problem is in full effect here, but at least these big guys are castable. It's unwise to consider what happens when you get more than one in your opening hand, because this will not reliably happen. The effects are major enough to warrant consideration in competitive play, and Fauna Shaman seems like a natural fit.
The Black Chancellor will be an irritation in Commander, but it lacks enough power to really matter. Chancellor of the Annex is potentially the most powerful, but a proper application will be difficult to find. Mana Tithe on their first spell is very hard to out-tempo. Chancellor of the Tangle seems to fuel his own cause better than the rest, since accelerating out a Fauna Shaman on turn 1 is precisely what you want to be doing. Tangle is probably the Chancellor with the most competitive applications. Chancellor of the Spires combos nicely with Archive Trap and could bring about the rise of a real Mill deck again. The Mill deck would have to run cards like Enclave Cryptologist and See Beyond if they wish to shuffle their Chancellors away, but that is not much of a leap of faith. Overall, I'm pretty excited about these cards and their lack of precedent means that they could be undervalued. It's hard for them to get much cheaper.
Fresh Meat - $1
I liked this card better when it cost 2G, made 2/2 bears, and was attached to a Gray Ogre, but I suppose that beggars can't be choosers. I seriously doubt this will become a relevant card so it's not even on my radar right now.
Glistening Oil - $1
A creature enchantment that does very little and is confused as to whose side it's on? I think I'll pass.
Hex Parasite - $6
In contention for the best rare in the set, this tiny annoyance kills you AND your Planeswalkers. It invalidates entire archetypes, and has made me stop caring about ever breaking Pyromancer Ascension again. Kuldotha Red decks have another incredible early play, and the applications don't end there. Almost every deck uses a card that cares about counters, so as long as Planeswalkers remain a part of Magic, Hex Parasite will be around to assassinate them. Presale price is justified, and it bears mentioning that there are a few cards in Magic that really benefit from a 1-drop that can instantly bring you to 1 life.
Invader Parasite - $1
3/2s for 5 don't usually make the team, but at least this little guy can put a dent in Valakut's plan. Too bad you're probably dead by the time he's castable. I've heard others speaking highly of this card, so I'm willing to give it a chance. I come from an era of Avalanche Riders and Stone Rains, so I'm probably just a jaded Old Fogey.
Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer - $1
Sadly, random dorks that pump other random dorks are not that exciting when priced at 5 mana. Someone will surely build a Commander deck that can aggro you out of the game, using Jor Kadeen as their general, but beyond that, he's not too exciting.
Lashwrithe - $4
The presale price is entirely too high, as there isn't a deck around that can reasonably use this card. No one has cracked the Mono-Black deck yet, so until that happens, this will remain little more than a bulk rare. Stay away.
Life's Finale - $2
I withhold judgment on this card, since I'm disinclined to hype up a 6 mana Damnation. The second ability, which strips creatures from your opponent's deck, is an interesting feature and I'm not entirely sure how to value it. $2 seems right, if a bit high, as there is little chance any deck will play more than 2 of these in a competitive format. Commander players will need their foil copies straight away, however.
Melira, Sylvok Outcast - $2
The presale price is correct for a card that can hose an entire archetype, but Infect decks will have no trouble removing a 2/2 creature with no protection whatsoever. It will be an important speed bump in stopping the Infect deck, but a 2/2 body isn't doing the card any favors.
Moltensteel Dragon - $1
Oh boy, another Dragon that does almost nothing. Casual players are going to love killing themselves with this big red beast, but players who care about not losing the game will likely choose to stay away. Bulk rare, until you find "That Dragon Guy". There's the obvious interaction with Treasure Mage in the Grand Architect deck (which has yet to pan out), so keep an eye on Moltensteel Dragon. The CMC is 6, but your true mana cost is only 4 (after he takes his pound of flesh). It's an interesting interaction and might be the push that Grand Architect needs,
Myr Superion - $3
Joraga Treespeaker is leaving Standard in the fall, but until then, enjoy smashing faces with a 5/6 on turn 2. Decks will now have to choose between Go For The Throat and Doom Blade, since Myr Superion is a legitimate threat. No preexisting deck exists for Superion, which will keep the price down, but a large and inexpensive beater might be exactly what someone's rogue brew needs to break into the primetime. Myr Superion is the Game Day promo, which won't really effect the price at all. Standard Powerhouse.
Norn's Annex - $2
Priced above bulk in presales, Norn's Annex is an interesting card from a design standpoint. The mana cost varies from 3 to 5, so you'll have to be honest in assessing how much damage you're liable to take in the coming turns. Unfortunately, Sword decks are happy to pay 2 life a turn to attack you so Norn's Annex will be kept out of Standard for a while. As much as I want to like this card, (W) or 2 life isn't really enough to keep you from losing the game, so it will probably fall to a bulk rare.
Omen Machine - $1
Screwy cards like this almost never find a home, but when someone figures out how to break the symmertry, bad things happen. It's 6 mana cost will keep it from being a big player in competitive play, and a lack of ways to return cards to the top of your library is also a large problem.
Phyrexian Ingester - $1
Great flavor, terrible card in constructed. Even if it eats something like a Titan, it's still just a big fattie. Those don't really cut it anymore.
Phyrexian Metamorph - $4
At such a high presale price for a rare, this card bears the burden of proof. Its value will largely depend on its context, but considering its current company, it will not be difficult to find a home. Sculpting Steel is still good even if it Shocks you, and Clone for 3 is an effective counter to an opposing Primeval Titan that found it's way onto the board early. Phyrexian Metamorph will be an important card in Standard for the next year and a half, but its price will be tempered by the fact that it's a Release Promo.
Phyrexian Swarmlord - $1
Cool card, no constructed applications. Verdant Force, a close comparison, made dudes every turn, which is why it was so scary. I can't see this breaking the bulk rare threshold.
Phyrexian Unlife - $1
I have no idea how to evaluate this card. The idea of sticking this alongside Melira, Sylvok Outcast, confuses and infuriates me. I rarely put a "wait and see" rating on a card, but I'm going to do that with Phyrexian Unlife. I want to find a home in some quirky, stupid deck for the card, but I really need to get in some games with it before I pass judgment. $1 could be way too low, or just right. We'll just have to wait and see!
Praetor's Grasp - $4
$4, and worth every penny. This card is bonkers, considering how many players will be using de facto colorless cards with Phyrexian mana. I adore cards that use an opponent's deck against them - see my Merieke Ri Berit EDH deck for an example - and the fact that there are no restrictions on what you can snag or when you can cast it are what brings this to mind as a Standard-playable rare. There's a deck in here somewhere, involving Surgical Extractions and Duresses and Praetor's Grasp, but the exact list will take a while to put together. There are enough inexpensive ways to cripple an opponent by playing cheap black cards that a mono-black control deck might be viable. Then again, there's someone who says exactly that same thing every time a set is released, so don't believe it until you see it.
Psychic Surgery - $1
Similar to Jace's Erasure, it excites me a similar amount. That is to say, not at all. The effect is powerful as all hell, but the trigger could be dead against certain decks, especially once the fetch lands and Stoneforge Mystic leave Standard. I'll leave this in the bargain bin.
Puresteel Paladin - $6
What!? Seriously!? Wow. Just wow. This guy...wow. There are no words. Cedric Philips, are you in the house? We need someone who can build a good white beatdown deck, because "bonkers" doesn't begin to explain how good this card is. It fixes almost every problem that white decks have, and considering the plethora of amazing equipment, Puresteel Paladin looks to be in great company. By the way, Batterskull now recurs and cantrips. Just. Saying. $6 is correct, but if the white aggro deck can't get there, then you're going to see Puresteel Paladin drop in price significantly. If this happens, start hoarding them! This card will be a staple, even if not immediately.
Slag Fiend - $4
I'm not a huge fan until I see a reliable way to stoke the furnaces effectively. There are certainly implications across all formats, but I can't see a practical application right now. I might get lit up for this, but I think $4 is unsustainable. If you can ship 'em out at $4, do so.
Soul Conduit - $1
The regular version will be worth nothing. The foil version will be worth a bunch for EDH/Commander. Japanese foils will be pretty expensive for the same reason. Don't get too excited but pick up the foils from Standard grinders and slip them to EDH'ers.
Spellskite - $2
The price is right and the ability is filthy good. It has room to grow based on its context and the metagame, but don't go nuts getting them unless they're cheap in trade. I doubt they will be. Cheap things that help Metalcraft and protect your team are invaluable, especially with the aforementioned Puresteel Paladin.
Surgical Extraction - $12
Wow, this price is way too high! It's the buy-a-box promo, which won't effect things too much, and it's a rare. Other rares that have presold this highly have not sustained it for too long, but before you cry "cartel" or "price-fixing", realize that the demand for a card is never higher than during the first few weeks. Enough has already been said about Surgical Extraction and most of its uses are quite apparent, but don't buy them at $10+ unless you're desperate to play them right away.
Torpor Orb - $4
Torpor Orb takes the sting out of a lot of cards in Magic, and it should prove to be an important player across all formats. $4 seems like the right price, and even if it doesn't see play in Standard right away, it will be a valuable card for a long time. The typical refrain of "horde 'em when their price drops" applies here, especially if they see no type 2 play.
Unwinding Clock - $2
This will be another wait and see card. It's price could easily shoot up if a deck is found to abuse it, but you could see a serious issue when the Marvel Universe calls because Tony Stark wants his friggin' arc reactor heart back. Until then, enjoy your Awakening for Machines and find a way to break it. You break it, you buy it.
Xenograft - $1
Seems like there's some serious in-fighting in Phyrexia since the Father of Machines kicked the bucket a while ago. Jin-Gitaxias and Vorinclex are really having it out, and they're doing it in the public eye. It's like Jocks and Nerds in High School all over again. Boys, boys! You're both pretty. Airing public grievances won't solve anything, and have you forgotten that Urabrask the Hidden is stewing somewhere inside the Great Furnace talking smack about you on Twitter? Oh, Xenograft is a terrible card that no one will ever play, but it will make a few kitchen table casuals pretty happy. I know of one gentleman with a Tribal-themed cube that'll want one post haste.
And there you have it. Every rare in New Phyrexia, laid out for your digestion. There are very few "obvious" sleepers, but that means that we'll all have to keep our heads up and our eyes on the tournament results as they come in. The metagame will certainly change over the summer, since M12 is fast approaching. The prerelease is tomorrow, so get your binders together, print off some articles, and start trading!
Once again, because I'm shameless: If you like the content you see on this site and would like to help support us and our writers, consider signing up for an Insider subscription! It would warm my heart, and more importantly, keep us fed.