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Insider: Dark Ascension Prerelease Primer

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It’s that time again! I’ll make my calls on Dark Ascension, but I am for this to be a little different than all the other set reviews out there.

Like most of you, I keep up with the other financial articles out there, and there’s been no shortage of financial set reviews already. It’s interesting since just a little more than a year ago few people besides myself did set reviews, and now we’re inundated with them.

That said, I’m not going to make you slog through dozens of bulk rares. Instead, I’ll share what cards I’ll be targeting to both trade into and away from this weekend. I think it’s much more interesting (and important) to know where we stand on the major cards in the set, rather than tell you for the tenth time that obviously-bulk rares are, in fact, bulk rares. If I don’t mention a card, it’s because I have no strong feeling about it one way or another, and consider it a non-factor in my trading goals outside of the strategies I outlined last week.

One note to remember as you read through this is that in comparison to Innistrad, these cards will be opened far, far less and will therefore hold value much better. This is the scenario that can lead to a busted Mythic Rare (cough cough, Sorin) hold absurd prices.

If the card links aren’t quite up yet, here’s a handy link to a text-searchable spoiler.

Let’s dive in.

Mythics

Beguiler of Wills

This card is going for $2.50 on SCG, and that feels a bit low in the long-term, as I believe this will be a fairly popular Commander card. A really good analogy is Lighthouse Chronologist, a Mythic from the similarly-under opened Rise of the Eldrazi that now sells for $4.

Pick the Beguiler up as throw-ins, but don’t give more than a buck for them, as I suspect there will be plenty of people will to trade them at that price.

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

This card seems fairly powerful, and is definitely going into my Commander deck, but I don’t see much here at $8, at least for now. It doesn’t really compare favorably to Grave Titan or Massacre Wurm at six mana. Maybe after rotation it will be more playable, but the price is going to come down in the meantime.

Vorapede

Another one that feels too overpriced coming out of the gates at $7.50. The thing is, I do think this card is powerful, and Mono-Green has some absurd creatures at every point along the curve (Strangleroot Geist into Dungrove into Thrun into Vorapede or Garruk). If such a deck were to become a thing, this card could easily jump past $10. That said, pick them up if you can get them cheap, but don’t feel bad trading them away at their current price.

Falkenrath Aristocrat

I’m really up in the air on this card. I’m pretty sure it’s going to show up in Standard at some point, but like some of the other cards on this list, I see it going down before it will ever go higher. If/when it drops to $2-3 after not seeing play, it will likely be a solid pickup for next year’s Standard. It has to compete with Olivia Voldaren for "big R/B Vampire."

Havengul Lich

Overhyped for now. This card is preselling at $15 and that’s too high. Even if it began to see play somewhere, it likely won’t be as a four-of, though its synergy with Heartless Summoning will keep people on this card.

I’m pretty sure this card isn’t going to much play in the next few months since such a deck seems difficult to tune quickly, and will half in price. At that point we may re-examine based on where the metagame is at. We've seen combinations of this with Perilous Myr and Heartless Summoning, but that's three cards and a lot of luck. In many ways, this is like a Necrotic Ooze. It'll seem powerful, nobody will use it, Conley will put it in a deck and it will be popular again.

Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells

Opinions are all over the place on this card, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it will make an impact on Standard. The only question is when that impact will be felt. It's a sort of Kitchen Finks for one more mana, and Kitchen Finks is one of the best green creatures of all time.

I like what this thing does, as it passes the way-too-important Vapor Snag test. The two life is relevant in a field of Delvers pecking at you, and the 2/2 body it leaves behind will be useful.

And that’s if it never transforms. If it does ever flip, it Gets Real really fast. Huntmaster definitely feels like it can go all the way on its own if you can get it to transform. The power level is there on this card, and its buddy Daybreak Ranger // Nightfall Predator, may finally get a chance to shine in the next few months. I do think there will be a dip in this card’s price, but I’m definitely okay with targeting it in trades once it dips below $10.

Sorin, Lord of Innistrad

And this is where the true chase card of the set comes in.

I’m pretty sure BW tokens is a very real deck, and especially so once Ratchet Bomb rotates (by the way, pick that up this weekend).

He’s $55 right now, and like it or not, our buddy Jace is the closest comparison based on set specifics alone (since Worldwake and Dark Ascension are in the same boat in that regard). Sorin is obviously no Jace (since nothing is), but he compares decently with other four-mana Planeswalker like Ajani Vengeant and Elspeth, Knight Errant. I believe he’s going to be more similar to the former pair than to our much-maligned buddy Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas.

Remember that Liliana briefly spiked to $70 a few weeks after the set released, and it's possible Sorin could do the same if BW performs in the first week or two. If that occurs, its price will slowly come down through the rest of its run in Standard.

$55 probably isn’t sustainable long-term, but I don’t see him dropping like a rock either. Liliana still commands a $30 pricetag, and I can’t see Sorin going lower than that anytime soon. I feel like $35-40 is going to be a fair price for this guy in a few months, so keep that in mind if you bust him this weekend. While he isn’t going to sustain higher prices than what he has now, it won’t be all that easy to pick more up later.

Rares

Thaila, Guardian of Thraben

This is pre-selling at $4, and I think that’s a reasonable price. I can see this being a fairly real card in Standard, and don’t think it falls below $2-3 during its run in Standard. It also has the potential to spike to $6-7 after a good weekend when the set is new, so keep that in mind.

I’m also not sure where this thing fits in among older formats, so keep an eye on that, as it will affect its price (especially foils) heavily.

Counterlash

It’s pre-selling for a dollar, and I don’t suggest you buy any at that price. But it wouldn’t hurt to grab a few as throw-ins this weekend because it seems like the kind of effect that will at least trade very well to the right player, and probably has some EDH applications on top of that.

Dungeon Geists

This card seems to be getting heavily hyped in the last few days. While I can see why, I also don’t think there’s a ton here. Four mana for a creature is a lot in the type of UW Delver deck it would seem to best fit into. They are practically free right now ($1 SCG price), so it  can’t hurt to grab a few this weekend, but I don’t suggest going deep.

Increasing Confusion

Pick up every one of these you can at the throw-in price it currently commands ($1.25 on SCG). You don’t have to look any farther than Glimpse the Unthinkable and Mind Funeral to see the power of the Mill deck among casual players.

Even something like Archive Trap, which was in a large set that will be opened a ton more than Dark Ascension will be, commands a $2 price tag. Confusion will easily be $3-5 in a year or two. It’s a long-term, but very low-risk, call.

Geralfs Messenger

$4 on SCG right now, even though names like Patrick Chapin have advocated for the card. Yes, the mana cost is extremely prohibitive, but people love two things nowadays — Mono-Black and Zombies. This thing is both, not to mention being powerful in its own right.

One weekend is all it takes for this card to jump to $8. I like grabbing these this weekend. What makes this card attractive is that it likely shows up in all the same places Gravecrawler does, but is still $3 cheaper.

Speaking of Zombies...

Gravecrawler

I don't love it at $8, but it certainly does a powerful thing, and drains life quickly one way or another with a Diregraf Captain out. Probably a solid $5 bill for its run in Standard, but I don't like it much higher than that.

And while we're mentioning the Captain cycle, these are going to be gold for an under-opened set. Grab every one you can and hoard them for the next year.

Hellrider

This is what I call reach for red decks. It’s similar to Hero of Oxid Ridge except it doesn’t matter if your guys are blocked. While the upside of the Hero isn’t here for Hellrider, the downside isn’t much either, since it’s so cheap right now ($2 on SCG). Pick these up for a buck this weekend if you can, it’s a pretty low-risk move.

Wolfbitten Captive // Krallenhorde Killer

To continue the theme, this is another low-risk pickup (funny how those are always the best thing to target during Prerelease weekends). It could hit $4-5 if it starts to show up, ala Champion of the Parish. This thing hits for three on Turn 2 and then flips the same turn. Ceiling on this isn’t high, but it could be an easy way to double your money.

Grafdiggers Cage

Absolutely hate this card. I feel like it’s way too wide of  a hate card, even if its not as good as people initially thought. It’s still $10 on SCG, but you can find it significantly cheaper elsewhere.

I’m pretty sure this will come down as far as $4-6 during its run in Standard and as people realize it’s not as oppressive as they thought. But one thing that won’t come down much is the foil price of this card, since it apparently tears up the Vintage scene (so I’m told from trusted sources). The foil retails for $30 on SCG, but you can probably snap these up for half that this weekend, since most people aren’t clued into the Vintage scene.

Jar of Eyeballs

I’m not the first to mention this, but grab foils of this if you can. It’s got to be up there with the best of them in the “trades stupidly well for an unplayed card” category.

Let me explain why. There’s a jar. Full of Eyeballs. THAT GLOW!

Have fun this weekend!

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

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