Magic 2012 is finally here. This weekend was Prerelease weekend, and it was the first time we did not have a large regional Prereleases. I find this a little sad as big Prereleases are where I got some of my best trading done. At times I even booked off work to attend them. In Toronto, we don’t have many large events close by, like a Pro Tour or Grand Prix, to get the trading exposure big events bring. Prior to last year’s GP, I think the last big event we had in Toronto was Worlds or PT in the early 2000’s. Hopefully Wizards changes their stance on Prereleases, or comes through well with the 40-or-more GP plan in 2012.
For my set review I will mainly be talking mainly about new cards, especially if they are relevant to Commander. I won’t be posting specific current prices unless it is relevant for a specific card as most cards are overvalued at the moment.
Angels are always good as throw ins. Nothing amazing about this card, but it should have some demand. Trade them away as its price should not go up any time soon.
Another “Angel” card. This one, however, is a lot better than the last. Rancor is a fan favourite and this card will probably be received just as well. I don’t see it making much of a splash in constructed, but casual players will love it. I think it’s a great Commander card, but wait for it to settle a little. I think it should settle around $5, and that’s totally fine to pick it up for that price as it’s a mythic. If it eventually drops below that price, it should slowly rise back to the $5 range over time.
Gideon’s Avenger could end up being an Commander staple, but I am a little hesitant. I see him as white’s version of Taurean Mauler or Hamletback Goliath. The thing about him though is he’s just a big beater. He also won’t get as big as similar creatures that grow over time in most instances so really he’s not the greatest beater out there either. I see him best played alongside [card Zedruu the Greathearted]Zedruu[/card] so he has time to build up while everyone else is pretty much forced in to fighting eachother.
White gets yet another hate bear. I could see Grand Abolisher making a showing in some Commander decks, especially if they depend on some sort of combo to win. His actually could see some constructed play as well. Foils are currently at $14.99, so keep an eye out for anyone undervaluing them. That seems very close to a fair price for a hate bear foil so I don’t think you will come out too bad if you try and get one around $10-$12. As for the non foil version, he is slightly higher on the price scale at the moment at $7. Most rares struggle to maintain a $5 price so he is on the way down. Trade away and wait for the price drop.
This is a perfect way to turn something symmetrical, like Manabarbs, into an asymmetrical bomb. I am sure this will see some play in Commander, but if it creates some decent combo similar to it’s interaction with Manabarbs, it could see play in Constructed. Manabarbs may even be enough for it to at least see a splash. Currently at its lowest price it can be so you can easily get your playset as a just in case pick up off of most players, especially drafters as this will surely be picked very late.
“Protection from creatures” is pretty very strong in Voltron decks so I can see this card becoming a huge Commander playable. It also has awesome art attached to it. Try to get these if you see one in foil. Every Commander player that likes foils will probably want one of these.
Obviously, this Rhino is a perfect fit for [card Momentary Blink]blink[/card] [card Flickerform]effects[/card]. If handled correctly this card can be a game changer. It could even see play in standard along side [card Venser, the Sojourner]Venser[/card]. I would be on the lookout for foils on this one for Commander players.
This card seems chock full of goodness. In a multiplayer game of Commander, your ability to trigger at least one of the modes is pretty much a guarantee. Triggering both will probably happen most of the time as well. Six life is pretty significant and should matter often. I find it funny that it creates three dudes. Three. Dudes. Seriously. (Fast forward to 10:46 to get the full effect) Evan Erwin quotes aside, even though the soldiers do not have evasion like the [card Spectral Procession]infamous three dudes[/card], they are still [card Thallid]three chumpers[/card], [card Skullclamp]sacrifice outlets[/card], [card Batterskull]equipment carriers[/card] and [card Overwhelming Stampede]over-runners[/card]. It may even see play in Constructed control builds, so look out for these in your tradepartner’s random unsorted piles from drafts or Prerelease/Launch tournaments. As always, lookout for foils if the card is common or uncommon; they will always be undervalued.
This guy seems legit enough to play in Commander. All planeswalkers are lightning rods, especially in Commander, so who knows if you get to actually ultimate with him. If you can protect him, he seems really good. Four turns is a lot, but drawing 20 is huge, basically game winning due to the card quality associated with Commander. You could even use his ultimate as a bargaining chip but I’m sure only the most gullible players will fall for it. His mill 10 is relevant for graveyard strategies, but be careful when depending on graveyard strategies in Commander. Most decks play at least a few pieces of [card Relic of Progenitus]graveyard[/card] [card Scavenging Ooze]hate[/card] and most decks have multiple ways of tutoring their hate cards out.
Preorder prices on Jace are pretty insane at the moment and hopefully price memory does not hold strong with this one. I just can’t see paying over $20 for him until Innistrad introduces a whole bunch of flashback and graveyard-based spells to the game. Is he really going to break standard in half before Innistrad comes out?
Windfall is a pretty powerful effect. Having a repeatable windfall effect is pretty huge. You could easily mill multiple people to death, or cause them to die due to spells that cause damage for each [card Psychosis Crawler]card[/card] [card Spiteful Visions]drawn[/card]. Jace’s Archivist should be popular with the casual crowd for years to come. Get these on the cheap if you can and hold on to them in case it becomes vital to a Standard strategy. His price based on the casual crowd should always be there
Illusion is the new Knight as it seems for Magic 2012. Lords of random creature types are [card Soraya the Falconer]peppered[/card] [card Greatbow Doyen]throughout[/card] magic and all have at least some sort of following. There are rumblings of the Illusion deck becoming an actual deck, but I highly doubt that it will have enough quality pieces to really make a stand.
That won’t stop the casual players from trying which is good for the future value of this Unreal card. Trade these fast and trade these soon, even at a loss from the current $2.99 price. I can’t see this card gaining value any time soon and will probably see a sharp decrease in price as soon as this set is drafted. Better drafters, who are mainly non casual players may have these sitting in their draft boxes, as Illusions seem fairly decent for draft. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Artifacts are big pieces of the Commander puzzle. Almost every deck starts with one part Sol Ring, one part Duplicant, one part Sensei’s Divining Top, and one part Lightning Greaves. Those are all great cards to steal, but that’s just to tip of the iceberg. Stealing something like a tapped Nevinyrral’s Disk, or a Blightsteel Colossus,could be game altering.
Be aware of the the specific wording on this card. You lose control of the artifact when you no longer control Master Thief. So having the thief die isn’t the only way to lose control of the artifact. As for almost all uncommons or commons I talk about in this article, only look for foils of this card.
I can see this card working out pretty well in Commander. Getting 10 cards off of this card is probably an easy feat. One thing to note, however, is that it is mandatory. Be careful and ensure you have a way to bounce the card, or possibly even [card Zedruu the Greathearted]donate[/card] it someone. This should end up being bulk, so get it as a throw in if you are interested in playing it. It could be a buck or two down the line due to the casual appeal.
Players love Clones. Players love cheap cards. Phantasmal image is the cheapest Clone to date. One trick is to use it on a creature with [card Argothian Enchantress]shroud[/card], [card Dungrove Elder]hexproof[/card], or a [card Wurmcoil Engine]graveyard[/card] [card Archon of Justice]trigger[/card] [card Academy Rector]effect[/card].
As a Standard card, I am excited to play this with Frost Titan. Locking down two things instead of 1 is huge and can pretty much win you the game. The only thing going against this Glass Clone is the other great clone in the format, Phyrexian Metamorph. They both have their ups and downs but I think they can co-exist in the same format, and possibly even the same deck. It seems like the perfect 2-drop for a Birthing Pod deck late game, when your [card Birds of Paradise]1-drops[/card] are just too slow to ramp up to your 5-or-m0re-drops.
It should see play in Commander as well, as Clones are really good due to all the epic creatures being cast in that format. Phantasmal Image is possibly a dual format playable, which means Phantasmal Image will be worth over the $2 threshold for a long time. Capitalize on this because some players will undervalue him. Use that to your advantage and get these at $1-$2 if you find someone that crazy.
The “Sphinx of 100 card decks” is what this should have been called. It is a big beater that does something. Big, flying beasts are a dime a dozen, so you really need your creatures to do more than just beat face. Anything really, as long as it does something important. A Fact or Fiction is nothing to sneeze at, especially if you are playing the political game well and have a temporary ally under your wing. I also love the art, and this card should look great as a foil. Keep an eye out for these as they are pretty much Standard unplayable with Consecrated Sphinx drawing you more cards and coming down a turn faster. It should be easy to find them as throw-ins, and cheaply as foils.
Some call this one of the best card of the set, some call it the most over-hyped card of the set. I lean more towards the over-hyped side. “Threshold 7” is not the easiest thing to pull off, and “threshold 20” for any player is, well almost three times as hard to pull it off.
Dredge in Legacy is an obvious deck that can use this card, but for Standard only Pyromancer Ascension can realistically utilize this card at the moment. It may or may not be the card that puts that deck over the top, but the issue of deck space is a real problem. Ponder, Preordain, and possibly Gitaxian Probe are the deck’s main card draw spells. You could overload the deck with Visions, but it may just be too much. I’ve seen a few decklists, and the lists seem very tight and very fragile. I think they the deck really needs Into the Roil or Burst Lightning to actually interact with decks, other than using your Lightning Bolts. Archive Trap versions are a better fit for Visions, but may or may not be the better build. The Trap build is certainly even less interactive than the burn version, so it’s weakness to aggro is much more obvious.
For Commander, Visions is an entirely different card. It’s 20 card qualifier is easy to obtain, and the fact that Visions of Beyond cycles if you absolutely need it to is a very important key to its playability. You never really want to have a dead card in your hand in Commander because so many different game states can come up at any point in the game. Card advantage is king in Commander and having a replica of the best card draw spell ever is a no brainer for Commander players.
All that said, I would trade Visions of Beyond away at the moment. It is a possible multi-format star, but for Standard, at least until Innistrad hopefully changes the way we look at our graveyards, Visions is mostly a fringe player. In the new world of Mythics, Rares have a very hard time staying above $5 unless they are [card Stoneforge Mystic]format defining and have paid their dues[/card] in the the low price bracket for half their stay in Standard. This card should follow the pricing trend of Green Sun’s Zenith. It sees limited Standard play, tons of Legacy play and tons of Commander play but sits quietly at $5. If you can get it for under $5 I would pick them up, but trade them away at $5-$8 to players who are clouded by the thoughts of drawing 3 cards on their opponents end step.
This card is not Vampire Nocturnus, and no Vampire lord to date has met his playability. But I think this bloodsucker is actually better for a different purpose. In a black-red aggressive deck, five mana for a 6/6 flyer is pretty relevant, and I think that’s what this “lord” will be used as. It is the Prerelease foil, so this shouldn’t be worth much more than a few bucks. Trade them away if you can find people over-valuing him.
If people are dumping him for less than $5, I would get a few just in case the hypothetical deck for it exists. In Commander, I think he is not that great as he doesn’t do enough extra except help you and all your other creatures beat face. He is a Vampire though, and that does count for something with the casual crowd.
I really hope the seven mana “nostalgia creatures” cycle eventually becomes a full cycle one day. I would love to see what the other color versions would look like. White Balance, Red Inferno or Wildfire, and Green Natural Order seem pretty sweet in my mind. As with [card Sphinx of Uthuun]Sphinx of 100 Card Decks[/card], 100 Card Deck Demon is Commander-playable only. However, if either was to make some sort of splash in Standard the Demon would be the more likely of the two. Tutoring is much better than card draw, especially at the price you will have to pay for it with this demon. Get these as throw ins as it will be eternally playable in Commander, and should be easy to find at that rate.
It is hard to deny the power of a 20 point life swing, especially combined with [card Sorin Markov]Sorin[/card] in your deck as a 2 card kill. Some Commander players will love this combo, as individually they are not the worst of cards to play but when they do come together it’s an instant kill. For Standard, once every set is spoiled the age old tradition of claiming “Mono Black Control is a deck” starts. I am not sure what is in store for MBC, but I do think it is closer than ever to actually being a deck, especially with Smallpox being reprinted. Will Sorin’s Vengeance be part of that puzzle? I am not sure, but either way I don’t see the card becoming a huge money card. Its closest comparison is Cruel Ultimatum and even when Cruel Control was all the rage the name sake card never even cracked $3. Do not go out of your way to get these as they will be easy to find anywhere. Unless Cabal Coffers gets reprinted, they will forever sit on the edge of playability. Trade them away for $1 if you can, but dump them as bulk if you need to.
Dredge-uh-vine decks everywhere rejoiced when this No Mercy variant was spoiled. I do think that having the Pharaoh placed on top of your deck, combined with you being required to take damage for it to trigger, may hinder the playability of this card. However, the missing cast member of Mummies Alive! could actually make his mark for the short while he overlaps with Vengevine. Beyond that, who knows what is in store for our graveyards once Innistrad is released. Commader players will enjoy a repeatable source of creature kill, but I don’t have much faith in it unless you play [card Life from the Loam]some[/card] [card Golgari Grave-Troll]dredge[/card] [card Stinkweed Imp]cards[/card]. Black just has so many better ways to deal with creatures.
Because it’s not insanely priced, I would hold on to these guys for the time being if you have 1 or 2. However, get rid of any more as it probably wont be a 4-of in decks that want to use it and doesn’t have a huge playability factor for Commander.
Part 2 – Not Yet!
That’s it for today! Join me later this week for my look at Red, Green, Artifacts and Lands. Two exciting new Planeswalkers await!
You will have to wait till my follow up article to see the second one. I decided to get him to alter two cards for me because they were the only non-Dual Land or post-Fallen Empires card that could not be foiled in my deck. I am basically 80% finished foiling out my deck. Anyone want to donate some judge foils?