Innistrad Pre-Release is less than a month away, and so the cycle continues. About 1/5 of the spoiler has been released as of this writing, and we've all got our strong opinions about Dual-Faced Cards and what they'll mean to gameplay, especially drafting. To drafters, card evaulation is one of the most important tools, and the analytical process is valuable whether looking at a card from a limited-play perspective, or a financial one. As usual, we're going to discuss what it means to break down a card based on a partial spoiler alone, and give ourselves tools to evaluate any new card that comes our way. Upon the spoiling of Karn Liberated, I discussed card evaluation, and used the colorless 'walker as an example. He's dipped very slightly outside the range I predicted, but the analysis and conclusion were all solid.
The First card I want to look at is the new Liliana of the Veil that was just revealed this week. Always start with the easy stuff; She's a Mythic, as all Planeswalkers are. This tells us that if she's a 3-4x copy in a tier 1 deck, she can see prices shoot up pretty high. We do want to keep in mind, that Innistrad is of course a large set, being the first set of the block, and over the course of the next year boosters will be opened in draft continuously. The first set gets the most exposure, so availability of these cards continues to rise as the block develops. The real question with this one: Is she playable, and what type of deck wants her? She's a 3 CMC 'walker, only the 2nd to fit this mold, and we all know how playable Jace Beleren has been. He remains approximately $10, very close to rotation, after a handful of printings, including one pre-dating the existence of Mythic Rarity. While this may not seem like a huge number, keep in mind it's been printed in 3 sets, as well as in a Duel Deck and other Promos. The low mana cost almost assures she has a slot in some deck, and we haven't even discussed her abilities.
+1: Each Player Discards a Card
-2: Target Player Sacrifices a Creature
-6: Separate all permanents target player controls into two piles. That player sacrifices one of them.
This is certainly no 'pretend' walker, like Nissa. The forum buzz seems to be kind of Low on her, feeling like the +1 isn't strong enough to want to use it, while the -2 ability depletes too much of her loyalty. I think both of these abilities are extremely strong against control and combo decks, but fairly weak against aggro. Most aggro decks will be able to kill her the turn after she hits play, where the use of activating her once is simply not enough value. If it is a maindeckable card, it will likely just be an edict against aggro, that will also absorb one attacker. Against control, it will continuously pressure their hand until they drop their fatty that you can edict. Alternatively, if the game goes long, she'll deplete all of your opponents development in a snap. Her ability to decimate a control deck seems very strong, and any way to mitigate the discard effect is only going to make her stronger. Her home is likely in a Mono-Black or a U/B Control. If the Flashback cards are strong enough, perhaps she'll be used as an enabler to get things to the bin, but nothing revealed so far is exciting. She'll likely be a 1x or 2x in a control deck, that potentially has more available in the board for control mirrors. This moves her range down to approximately Koth status. $15-$25. Koth is extremely powerful, but there's not many types of decks that can run him. Liliana seems the same in that way to me.
Lastly, is casual appeal. Not only is the art on this card amazing, but Liliana has a bit of a following already, and fans are going to gobble this card up. I can see her being a combo enabler in EDH, this leans a little bit higher than the minimum on the range, and I'm putting her Standard life price between $18-$23. Starcitygames.com currently has the lady listed at $35, which is a bit too high. It will probably be a while before they underprice any walker before we can see what it can do. If people aren't ordering it, however, the price will come down. They count on recovering a chunk of money on Pre-Sales, and they'll want to get the numbers they need.
Did I miss any key aspects on Liliana? Anyone have a contrarian call? Post it here, or in the forums, and claim your glory when it comes out true. Over the next couple weeks we'll pick out some more Innistrad cards to analyze, as more of the set is spoiled to us, and discuss which cards from Scars Block and M12 have the best synergy with the new Block.
Before I go, I want to scold each and every one of you. I told you guys about this weeks ago, when I talked about potential activities to add to your business plan, and one of them was seeking out misspelled listings. I even gave you the single search term ("duel") that has brought me the most success. (I actually regretted doing this for some time, as I figured I'd now be competeting with my readers on the same auctions) I also reminded everyone about this last week, and Corbin mentioned in the comments he was going to try and figure it out. I found a seller that had 2 different Dual lands listed as "Duel Lands". Luckily for him, he at least kept a minimum bid on them high enough where he couldn't get screwed too hard, but I watched the auctions all week, and they never moved a bit. One was a Scrubland, which ultimately, another person found and outbid me on (hopefully it was one of you!). The second was a Bayou. The auction ended earlier this week. I was the first bidder with an opening bid of $40, i set my max bid at $45, knowing I could resell to ChannelFireball.com for $55, and likely trade it much higher around $70+. With only 11 minutes to go, another person also bid $45, putting me in the lead at $45. Either this person happened upon the auction last minute, or was waiting to snipe it, they didn't move their bid after that, and I won. I realize that by informing everyone about my secret search terms, that I'd have competition on these auctions as a result. But seriously, this is a good activity to add to your plan. My Ebay style is one of volume. I bid extremely low on tons of auctions, and I just let them sit. I don't wait to snipe, I don't revisit it daily, I just enter my price and keep searching. Looking for anomolies in listing titles and irregular postings. If I find an auction I like with higher shipping costs, I'll hunt that sellers inventory for more listings to bid on to attempt to combine shipping once I'm close to winnning. There is a ton of inventory on Ebay, and if you're patient, and persistent, you'll get what you're looking for.
Best of luck this week, and happy hunting!