Eventide is packed with some expensive casual and tournament cards. The set contains many enemy-colored cards, from Lieges to filter-lands. The power of the lands, along with Reflecting Pool and the Vivid cycle, let people play essentially anything they wanted in decks. The resultant Standard pool heavily favored decks that could play Cryptic Command into Archon of Justice into Cloudthresher. It wasn't exactly the best time to be playing, especially when the next set introduced Cruel Ultimatum. I'm glad that R&D has taken a step away from making set themes revolve around color relationships, especially enemy colors; the record-breaking sales of Innistrad underscore that. Enough about that, though, let's pay some bills from our casual card binder as we dip into a very lucrative set!
As I mentioned in my Shadowmoor series, the Lieges are casual dynamite. People love creature-boosting and they'll look at this guy and want to connect him with guys like Boros Recruit. On top of that, every R/W spell they cast with Liege turns into a Lightning Helix. Even if we're just playing Commander around the kitchen table, a free Lava Spike with every red spell is a solid deal. People will chronically undervalue Lieges, so get them whenever you can.
Bloom Tender can transform from a bad Utopia Tree into a bad Priest of Titania when you've got enough permanents out. I never liked the card that much, but it does give some appreciable ramp if you have a 1-drop before it. The issue, though, is that you both want small dudes to turn on Tender alongside big mana spells to dump that mana into. If I were playing this casually, I might combine it with something like Selesnya Guildmage or Azure Mage to absorb some of that excess mana. I'm hard-pressed, though, to find a great one-drop outside of Executioner's Capsule that I'd play in a ramping deck. Untapping on the third turn with access to five mana is some serious speed, though.
I have been unsuccessfully bidding on these damn things for the past month on Ebay. I refuse to accept that this card is so much money. It's an important part in R/U combination decks in Modern, but those don't exactly make big showings. You've also got Scalding Tarn and now Sulfur Falls to compete against. Is it so much to ask that I get to tap this and my Grove of the Burnwillows and be halfway to casting my Cryptic Command? Can you let me be cheap and greedy at the same time?
The enemy filter lands are solid trades at this point, especially because people want them for Commander. If you're letting yours go, extort the person you're trading with.
I've picked up countless copies of this from dollar boxes at stores or in throw-ins. Selkie is a really popular casual card for the same reason cards like Cephalid Constable are. People want to get more out of them, and with Noble Hierarch, they can do it easily. Selkie sees a tiny bit of Vintage play with Hierarch, forming the backbone of a Fish deck.
What did I say about those Lieges? This is a stupid card in Commander. It makes an Elephant every turn and it combines in excruciating ways with Ghave, Guru of Spores. I have seen people on the ropes who bounce back and slaughter people in two turns, thanks to Liege. Every little nasty utility guy, from Llanowar Elves to Bone Shredder, turns into a legitimate threat with Liege around. Kill these on sight.
Again, expensive Lieges. W/B is a popular Commander combination and this Liege lets you Royally Assassinate guys when you cast that Gerrard's Verdict. Even if you don't get both halves out of it, this Liege still has some mighty combat tricks to it. I'd be wary of someone with four cards in hand and this on the table.
Divinity of Pride
See what happens when we make a format where you start at 40 life? These kinds of things happen. This card is casual cocaine; when you first read it, your mind immediately jumps to how it levels itself up, how it can turn into a giant(er) monster. It's self-evident how cool Divinity of Pride is. No matter how useful Morphling was, you couldn't look at it and see how good it actually was, the way you can with this card. It should come as no surprise that Divinity of Pride is a hot Commander card.
Dominus of Fealty
When Eventide was first spoiled, people figured that Commander decks would become half-Eventide. Seriously! You got great lands and all these huge monsters. This was a Word of Seizing on a stick, and it was a pretty big stick at that. What deck would pass up something like this? Alas, the politics of EDH mean that people generally don't play a bunch of cards like this that shout "kill me! Better yet, kill my owner!" Dominus is still a fine card to sneak in and it's a great feeling when you can slap Lightning Greaves on it.
Another enemy filter land. This one is hugely popular for casual players who realize that you actually have to spend some money on your manabase.
Figure of Destiny
Figure inspired the whole leveling mechanic - it's a pretty cool card and it's had a lot of tournament play. Figure showed up in White Weenie decks; it made appearances in Boros decks. It even comes out of Burn deck sideboards, since it can become a reliable form of damage in a deck that usually cannot draw good cards after its initial opening. I'd put Figure at $5 or $6 if it were not also the prerelease card.
It's interesting to note that this color combo is worth less than other ones. Less people are playing Momir Vig decks than Selenia, Dark Angel, apparently.
Glen Elendra Archmage
I've seen people speculating on this card for Modern and I don't think it's great. First off, you'll find that this either soaks up two removal spells (was that your goal?) or it has to be played in a dedicated tap-out control deck to fight other, similar decks. Granted, it's a hugely powerful card, especially when people side out their removal. Unfortunately, it'll die to Punishing Fire (for as long as it's around). I am not discounting this; combo decks can have a hard time unsticking this girl, for example. I just don't see it as the right answer for four mana.
When is it better to tuck creatures than kill them? What if you're playing Commander and you get to hide Generals and prevent people from recurring their now-stocked graveyard? I like Hallowed Burial, since it stops Persist guys and goofy recursion. People also don't get too worked up about it, and I think that's because they've rationalized the spell with "well, I can just draw that creature again." This card and Final Judgment are probably better than Wrath of God in Commander!
Light from Within
It took me a moment to realize the full impact of this card. This is the long game card for Weenie decks. Your Knight of Meadowgrain and Ramosian Captain become full-grown beasts! This card is terrible with token strategies - no pumping going on there - but I can see how someone would run this as their Armageddon-style card. You've got to be able to match monsters with people who are soon casting actual Beasts, so this keeps someone in the game.
This Liege joins your Seedborn Muse and Awakening if you must get every bit of mileage out of your monsters. I think it's inferior to the Muse in just about every regard, but it's there if you want to run both.
Primalcrux is a real reward to Green players. It's a sizable guy on its own, but if you have an elf and maybe a wall sitting around, it gets even bigger. Only for the truly dedicated Green players, though!
Regal Force has become the finisher in big-mana elf decks. You can Summoner's Pact for it and then draw eight or nine cards. It's a real-sized monster, so you have a fattie if you want, and it can keep the combo going. The original Elf-combo decks from Extended would use this to draw into their single Grapeshot, then Storm someone out. It's no surprise that Regal Force is worth a few dollars, since even when you're fairly playing it, you'll draw three or four cards. That's really good for green decks, which is why this is a casual staple.
Rise of the Hobgoblins
This honestly surprised me. People must love making little tokens. I do remember that this was played in a lot of control decks in Standard out of the sideboard. The fine distinction is that you only have to pay for the tokens if this actually hits play. Ergo, you run out a little 2cc spell against an opponent who might have a hand full of counters. If they can't stop it, you make four or five guys and then you're set. If they do counter it, at least you didn't tap out!
I attribute the lower price of this card to the fact that this is not a casually popular color combination.
People always want The Mill Deck to work. This was bandied as a legitimate finisher in control decks, but it never panned out. You could imagine nailing a dozen cards from an opponent with this, but if you can't get all of those spells from them with four Grindings, you'll still probably lose. Twincast helped, in addition to being useful on its own. Around the kitchen table, I'm sure people put this alongside Archive Trap and have a great time.
Scarecrows aren't exactly a popular casual deck, but I find I play this card a bit in Commander. She's a real gem in my Karn deck, but in any list where you want some recursion and card draw, it'll do. Try it out in Bosh or Memnarch decks, for example.
Another casually-popular card in the right color combo. The Cavalier popped up in tournament play from time to time. There was a B/W Tokens deck that couldn't stop Cavalier at all, so the Knight made his presence felt from sideboards in Standard. It's a huge mana investment in older formats like Commander; I couldn't see pumping five mana into this to swing on someone. On the other hand, protection from two colors is really relevant in a blocker, in case you want to use this like a Fog Bank.
Are you joking? This card is a junk rare, through and through. You're not playing it on your second turn unless you're also playing a Land Grant or Invigorate, which makes this cost 1GG for a 4/3 any other time. That's bad, but it's also an aggressive Elf; I can't blame people for wanting to run it.
I've also been attempting to score one of these, to no end. People LOVE their B/G decks, which have surprisingly few good manabase choices.
Wake Thrasher saw a little bit of love in Merfolk, especially since mana burn went away and you can now straight-up tap Islands for firebreathing. Merfolk is on its decline in Legacy; Snapcaster Mage gives white decks too much access to Swords to Plowshares for Merfolk to really compete. That's not to say that Wake Thrasher is bad in casual Merfolk lists. You often need something to smash through a 5/5, and trading little 2/2s all day long won't win the game. That's where this guy comes in.
That's all for Eventide! Go make some serious casual dollars. The filter lands are solid pickups if you're going to play Modern. Lifeloss from fetchlands and Ravnica duals is a big deal, which makes painless mana making much more playable. Keep an eye out for those Lieges and join me next week as we get into more recent history with Shards of Alara!