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Insider: Hidden Gems in Shards of Alara, Pt. 2

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Last week, we tore through the first half of Shards of Alara. We saw hit commons like Blightning and killer trade bait like Death Baron. Let's take a close look at the second half of the set this week and see what treasures we come upon.

Lich's Mirror

$1.50

I see the mirror here mainly as a curiosity. The best combo we came up with for it is to use Channel and the card. You can Channel the Mirror out, then kill yourself and float lots of colorless mana. From there, you'll be able to Channel more life away and hopefully cycle through Mirrors until you find something beefy like an Emrakul to cast. My best guess on why this isn't a junk rare is that it's a plausible Commander card with a few interesting uses.

Master of Etherium

$3.25

Before Mirrodin, the only real association between blue and artifacts was Tolarian Academy and Power Artifact. The relation was sometimes anatgonistic, considering Energy Flux and Annul. Wizards has been angling the two groups closer together since that set, thanks to cards like Fabricate and Etherium Sculptor. Master fits into an interesting slot - blue aggro. He's the Keldon Warlord of artifacts and pumps every last little Ornithopter along the way. It's not surprising that people casually like the card. We've seen attempts at blue Affinity in Modern, but I don't see it happening. Master is good to keep in mind when trading; he's worth a deceptive amount and there are a lot of casual and tournament players who want it.

Mycoloth

$2.50

I've been considering Big Myke a lot for Modern. A deck that aims to win through creatures attacking cannot beat this card if you devour three or four little guys along the way. It's one of those "Path or no?" cards that can buy you back into a game you were quickly losing. I could see it in Melira Pod decks and possibly in Elf decks. Mycoloth is friendly whenever there are other monsters to devour, though, so it is a natural for plenty of Commander decks. With the appeal of Verdant Force, I'm very surprised at how cheap Mycoloth is. I'd venture to say that the card is underpriced right now.

Quietus Spike

$2.00

Braining someone for half their life is easy with this icepick, and in Commander, it's withering. You can tear down that guy who just cast Beacon of Immortality and then swap the Spike onto a blocker to keep the love flowing. Spike is a great fit in Commander decks because there's always someone who can't block your evasive guy. For opportunistic players, this is an incredible piece of equipment.

Rafiq of the Many

$3.75

Rafiq is a hugely popular Commander general - he's really thematic and the Bant trio are great colors. He's a mythic rare, which makes me puzzled why he's only $4. Rafiq was printed in the FTV: Legends box set, which has depressed his price somewhat. He's a flashy card and you can find people who will knowingly overtrade to get him.

Ranger of Eos

$3.00

Whichever Ruel brother this is can bring on a little army of pesky weenies. I don't know if that's the legacy he wants to be remembered for, but Ranger sees some decent play in Modern Martyr decks. He'll get Martyr of Sands to start or twin Serra Ascendants to close the gap with an opponent. He can snag Figure of Destiny to bring the beats. He also infrequently shows up in Melira decks to get Viscera Seer. Ranger is kind of a weird card; would you pay 3W for a 3/2 that draws two cards? What if those two cards were the categorically worst cost you could think of? He's a "build around me" kind of creature, for sure. I expect to see Ranger played a bit in Modern and if Martyr picks up more steam, it may hit $5.

Sarkhan Vol

$8.75

The Dragon-man! Sarkhan's mini-Fires of Yavimaya ability has killed me in a lot of Commander games that I felt safe in. A token army can come out of nowhere and he'll send them right to ya. His other abilities are nothing to ignore, either. Who doesn't want a bunch of dragons! Despite seeing no tournament play at the moment, Sarkhan is still a highly-valued Planeswalker - I attribute it mostly to his draconic token generation capabilities.

Sharuum the Hegemon

$2.25

Chances are, you know a guy with a Sharuum Commander deck and he or she probably thinks it's their original creation. Sure, you can recur him over and over with Sculpting Steel and Altar of Dementia! You can rebuy Mindslaver! Why not get that Nevinyrral's Disk back while you're at it! It's a totally unfun general to play against; I defy people to make entertaining Sharuum decks that do not involve loops or insane recursion. Foil copies of this card are quite valuable, since they are in such demand as Commanders.

Tezzeret The Seeker

$4.50

Tezzeret has had a mighty trajectory. When he was printed, the Vintage community freaked out because he was basically a one-card combo with Time Vault. We played three copies, then two, then we dipped to one before we dropped him when Jace was printed. Sorry Tezz, merely being a gamewinning combo with Time Vault isn't strong enough for Vintage play. He's still enormously popular in casual play. His price is artificially deflated because a lot of people, me included, bought the Tezzeret vs. Elspeth boxed set for the white Planeswalker and have one of these sitting around as a result.

That rounds out Shards of Alara! Join me next week when we take a tour through Conflux!

-Doug Linn

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