Hello, and welcome to this week's set review for the financial mind! We are looking at Lorwyn, a semi-recent set full of tribal alliances and intrigue. Lorwyn was the debut for Planeswalkers; the paragons of the marketing department made their first appearance here. This is where Jace and Ajani earned "Brands with Other Planeswalkers" and proved that consistent, repeatable effects were game-changers when they hit the field. It created the Faeries deck that dominated several formats. It also revitalized Merfolk, a previously-casual Legacy deck. Lorwyn is full of money cards, and this week, we are looking at the first half of the set!
People were not that impressed with Ajani when he was first printed. His first ability is just awful, his second is only good if you have lots of dudes, and his ultimate... well, it involves having to level up his worthless ability. Ajani saw huge amounts of tournament play as soon as people linked it with token production. Ajani got packed into Kithkin to work with Spectral Procession and in B/W Tokens to pump up Bitterblossoms. Getting a quad Glorious Anthem from Ajani is backbreaking. Those little tokens turn into Bears, then Elephants, then Beasts and Dragons.
Ajani, like the other planeswalkers, has seen a withering amount of reprints. He's down quite a lot because there are just so many of the lion floating around. He still goes for a little bit of money, but we'll never see him hit $15 again.
The command is picking up a little bit of cash on account of being solid in Commander. Keep an eye out for the foils - this card is one of those big surprises when it's shiny. For a normally-junk rare, they can fetch $10+.
Ajani is only $2 more and he actually saw play! We all wanted Chandra to be the next Flametongue Kavu or generic insane control finisher. She's too darned expensive mana-wise to have competitive utility, so she sat in binders.
The Commands are super-Charms. I loved the design because I remember cracking Ivory Charm and Ebony Charm and thinking about how cool they were. Seedling Charm could be a 1/1 or it could be a little piece of utility! Of course, Cryptic is a whole heck of a lot better than any Charms. It can pretend to be Dismiss, it can punish someone who casts a spell before combat, or it can cycle itself while bouncing a problematic permanent. It really does it all, and the three blue mana were really easy to get, thanks to Shadomoor's filter lands.
Cryptic was a solid $20 when it was in Standard - this was before Mythics deflated the value of rares. It still pulls nearly $10 on the idea that it will someday be good in Modern. That's a solid bet.
I'm just as surprised as you are. I'd imagine this would be a bulk rare, but hey, people like to put their fatties into play. Deathrender is gravy in a Mayael or Jhoira EDH deck, for instance.
Doran is an on-again, off-again fan favorite. People love him in Commander, where he makes Slagwurm Armor into a real threat. People are considering it in Modern, which is a fair idea. I've got Doran on my own watch lists - he's a great turn-2 play in the format and he gives a discard strategy a really solid clock.
Here's a subtle power uncommon of the set! These are superb to dig up and there's a brisk trade in playsets on Ebay. I bet you could probably mine Lorwyn boxes for these all day long for profit. I'm going to hit up the game store tomorrow and take a little browse myself...
The Kithkin Advisor is part of crushing GW strategies that punish large control decks and nefarious combos. Gaddock asks you to work with him, though; you can't run big spells of your own and he'll turn off your Engineered Explosives, too. I tend to think his price is a reflection of Green Sun's Zenith from Modern; now that the Sorcery is gone, I predict we'll see this guy drop a bit, too.
Garruk was the shining Planeswalker from the start. He creates a token to defend himself, and his pumping ability combines nicely with green's mana acceleration. If you had a landlock on the table, Garruk could just Overrun the next turn and win the game. Again, he's been printed a lot, but he's got a casual appeal that the other planeswalkers lack. His power is apparent and he's a fantastic Commander card.
As I said, there are a few subtly valuable tribal cards, and this sure is one of them. Why bother with Timberwatch Elf when you can make his ability permanent, each turn? What a beating! Every elf becomes a monster, and when you can threaten things like Elvish Promenade to double the count, you've got a scary casual deck, indeed.
The Perfect is a lord that can crank out 2/2 tokens, all while bumping up all the other elves around. If there were an Elf standard deck, this is what would have powered it. There wasn't, but this card has still smashed me up plenty of times when it's in Legacy Elf decks. Perfects let the game go long and act like little Archivists - it's no wonder that they're so expensive, even though they're uncommons.
A marginal card that gets a little bit of attention from casual and Commander players.
Through all his reprints and special promotions, Jace has still maintained a lot of value. BabyJace earns a card and soaks up an attack on his worst day. On his best day, Jace piles on the cards, a personal little Howling Mine for the blue player. This kind of card can be hard to value because there are so many reprints of it - is it a $2 card like Ajani, or has it spiked? I tend to think Jace is kind of high at this price, since he isn't played in any relevant decks right now.
Another dollar uncommon - but a brisk seller. I don't know that you can find these guys buried in junk boxes because their power is immediately obvious. This is the kind of Knight we've been looking for since Alpha! What a monster!
Liliana has jumped recently from a low of about $2. Why? Maybe Innistrad is pumping up her value a little bit. I also think it's the appeal of a repeated Vampiric Tutor that draws dark wizards in. Liliana is a potent Commander card because at worst, she tutors up the best card in your deck. I can't account for her doubling in price, though...
Thanks for joining me! Next week, we'll look through the second half of Lorwyn for some more gems.