Rise of the Eldrazi is the Timmy dream set. It's what you'd get if you built a set with the premise of "no rush till turn 7" and packed mana accelerants in everything. The set is based around the Eldrazi, giant and evil old legends that awaken on Zendikar. There's a little bit of plot to this set, but mostly people remember weird drafts and a couple really big monsters. You see, Rise of the Eldrazi was made to be drafted as triple-Rise. The reason was that most of the cards are just unplayable in draft if you let in stinkers like Steppe Lynx. You'll die before you get two Eldrazi Spawn into play!
While Rise did not add a whole lot to Standard, it was full of cool Commander cards. It remains a popular set in the casual circuit and there are plenty of solid cash cards in here. Most of the expensive cards are also Mythics, so they command a special premium. This is despite the fact that Rise was extensively opened - three packs in every draft. Let's take a look at what commands the money in this set!
All is Dust
All is Dust is surprise Nevinyrral's Disk. It's the best friend in a Karn commander deck. It's a fairly priced board wipe that can even nail things like Thrun. All is Dust is a very popular commander card, because every deck gets to play it. The card is also just so approachable - you don't have to look at it too hard to figure out what it can do. This means that it pulls a lot of casual weight, and though it isn't played in Constructed, it's still worth a chunk of change.
Did you want a Maze of Ith or an accelerator each turn? This gives you both! If you aren't under attack, then this gets you dangerously close to some really big plays. If you're pressed, this takes a bit of heat off of you. The opponent can attack you to keep you off of acceleration, but they're throwing away all of that damage they could pin on another player in a big game. It's even good when you're feeding an Eldrazi Monument, which also bumps up every token that you make with it.
This is the card that really pushed Merfolk over the top in Legacy. We can look at things like Merfolk Sovereign, but the chance to pair this with Reejerey, Sovereign and the Lord of Atlantis and make the Sixteen Lords deck was really incredible. It seems like every other monster in the Merfolk deck pumps his friends, so you can swing in with 4/4 Mutavaults and end things in hurry. The Commander can also hold his own on an empty board later in the game. Turning into a giant flier is also really good; it demands a swift answer. The price on this card has really dropped because the Stoneforge Mystic + Batterskull plan has really screwed up Merfolk decks.
I get the feeling that a lot of the value in this card is probably wrapped up in Voltron style Commander decks. The card also saw serious competitive play in Mythic Conscription, which was a UWG Standard deck. A Noble Hierarch into a Lotus Cobra on the second turn could generate Sovereigns of Lost Alara on the third turn - so that Cobra is swinging in with a Conscription on it. It's the newest iteration of those old Erhnamgeddon decks.
Some people must really like summoning giant pasta monsters. I don't know why this thing is over a dollar, but it is. That's a truth that we have to live with.
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Emrakul is the best example of what you can get for infinite mana. It's the creature that you're Show and Telling into play. I'd wager that this would be $25 if it were not the promo card for the set. Emrakul was banned in Commander - before that, it was worth a little more. There were a couple of months in Commander where seemingly every game ended with someone dropping this guy and Time Walking into players.
I like to think of Gideon as your bodyguard. He he's full of damage-absorbing loyalty, he'll kill guys who come at you, and he'll turn into a bad guy to stomp the opponent. He was part of a UW Standard deck called Super Friends. You'd play a lot of Planeswalkers and sweepers. You could combine things like Gideon's animating and Elspeth's Jump ability to make the game end in a hurry.
Gideon is still asking a playable-Mythic price, which is odd - he doesn't see play in anything and he's been reprinted. Gideon did pop up in Caw-Blade sideboards now and then and he still appears in UW Sword decks in Standard right now. But Gideon is not a $30 mythic by any shot.
Guul Draz Assassin
It's a sad world when this is worth three times what most Royal Assassins are. I would probably pass this off as a junk rare, but they seem to be pulling a little bit of cash.
Inquisition of Kozilek
I think Inquisition is going to be one of those $3.50 uncommons in a year. It's a stellar Modern card, often just as good as Thoughtseize with a lot less of the downsides. Inquisition isn't getting reprinted, especially because it has a set-specific name in its title. That's kind of a bummer - IoK is a good roleplaying card for a lot of sets. It doesn't punish players for running big monsters and it can slow down faster decks. I wish we'd see more of this card, but the copies we have are all we are going to get.
If I were betting on the long profit, Inquisition of Kozilek would be a top call. With the current support for Modern and its continued pro attention, we'll see a lot of this card.
It That Betrays
It That Betrays is a game-stopper in Commander. It'll co-opt any Annihilator trigger, but it also screws up just about any other advantage engine that someone is running. Last week, it stopped me from using Carrion Feeder and Corpse Dance to recur Thraximundar over and over again. This kind of thing happens often. This isn't the greatest guy to swing into someone with; the Annihilator trigger is unimpressive and it can be chumped all day long. The ability to screw up engines and combine into bonkers combos with All Is Dust is why this is solid.
The Dragonlord is the Great Red Hope for burn decks. The idea is that you run this guy and like Figure of Destiny, it's supposed to go all the way if you draw it later in the game. I don't think that it really works out that way. If you drop him later with, say, Gauntlet of Might out, then sure, it'll get enormous in the span of a turn. It hasn't really worked out, though, that spending R x 10 is a worthwhile play, even in casual games.
Speaking of absurd creature costs, we've got this guy, too. I like that a little dude like Llanowar Elf does double duty on casting this card. However, all the work you put into it means that you just get an 8/8 trampler. You don't get a crazy combo engine, you don't get to draw more creatures or kill something else. You just get a big stomper. That said, this is worth a couple dollars. Keep an eye out for this one in binders.
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
I think my favorite use of Kozilek has been as a crazy draw spell in Food Chain decks. You'd play him, draw a bunch of cards, then exile him for more mana to cast Emrakul Lagasse. Kozilek is still fine, but I think his little brother Ulamog is the better Eldrazi. Drawing four cards means that you don't really have to worry about this guy dying - he's already super-replaced himself.
Everyone who plays Commander has seen this thing hit ultimate in exactly one game. The player with the Chronologist gets to take four or five turns in a row, then everyone packs up their cards and remembers to point a Lightning Bolt at this in the next game. Make no mistake - this card is Kill On Sight.
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
So while Linvala isn't especially "legendary" in her ability, she's a right pain in the butt when she's in play. Even a Noble Hierarch won't tap for mana and Linvala will shut down every good combo that you have. It's a fine card for the White Prison commander archetype and I've gotten a lot of mileage out of Linvala in Modern decks. Those Splinter Twin and Melira decks grind right to a halt when this Angel is around. Linvala is sufficiently annoying and beefy for the mana cost, so it's an easy include in a lot of my decks.
Rise of the Eldrazi has got a whole heap of really fun Mythics, and this is another one of them. It acts like another Cabal Coffers. The turn after you play it, you're getting in upwards of an 18/18 attacker. That's if you just want to punch the mana through your Revenant, too. If you want to Exsanguinate or cast a big Eldrazi, you can do that, too. Revenant has doubled in price in the past year; I could see it holding that price for a long time to come.
Sarkhan the Mad
So Sarkhan can only count down, but what a good job he does! He'll play Dark Confidant for a few turns or he'll make a Sprouting Thrinax into a giant Dragon. His Ultimate is a decently good reacher, ending the game a little sooner. Sarkhan is obviously best at home in a dragon deck where you can ideally drop him and fire the Ultimate in one turn, acting like a big, painful burn spell. He's also fine in B/R attrition decks, since his drawing ability is nice and he can turn smaller utility dorks like Hypnotic Specter into game-enders.
This was a bulk rare when it was printed. We all knew about the Exarch combo, but you've got to realize that Jace and Stoneforge Mystic were still running the house. When they were banned, Twin got its time in the sun. Ponder and Preordain helped to make the deck more consistent. About overnight, this card jumped to $8.00 and stayed there for a long time. It still gets a bit of play in Modern, since the combo is even more robust with Pestermite and Kiki-Jiki. I have to wonder whether people play this legitimately by tacking it onto Sundering Titans and Duplicants.
Student of Warfare
Student of Warfare is an upgraded Figure of Destiny. It won't get flying, but the Double Strike is just fine, too. I've seen this pop up in Martyr decks now and then, thanks to Ranger of Eos pulling out two copies. I don't know that Student is quite as solid as it looks - the mana commitment requires that you really just have nothing else going on in the deck. That doesn't typically bode well, even if you end up with a 4/4 double striker.
I'm a bit surprised that Training Grounds is this cheap. People looked at this and immediately cast their eyes on their Sliver decks, the home of billions of activated abilities. Training Grounds means that you can take whatever you'd like with Sliver Overlord and use Necrotic Sliver to wipe the world away if you'd like to. This is the kind of card that could sit around for a dollar for years until some combo that could really use a one-mana combo block emerges. This is not a card worth forgetting.
I had high hopes for this creature. He's the icon of what happens if you let a creature stay on the board for a little too long. He'll gain life like a Wurmcoil and end up unremovable. The failure of Transcendent Master to make an impact in Standard is conclusive criticism of whether Leveling was actually playable in tournaments.
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
A gyre, by the way, is a whirlwind or whirlpool. It also shows up in Carroll's "Jabberwocky."
Ulamog shows up in Tron decks in Modern; he'll take out the biggest issue on the board and the indestructibility makes this a really hard problem to remove. I've found that when Ulamog hits, you don't even have to attend to Emrakul. The Annihilator, the Vindicate, the indestructibility - all of this will end the game unless you've got a Path to Exile stashed somewhere.
Vengevine got a lot of good play in Standard, thanks to Bloodbraid Elf resummoning this monster. It also got Survival of the Fittest banned in Legacy. I played the blue/green deck and it was just as incredible as you'd think. You would spend the first few turns putting Vengevines in the graveyard, then grab two Basking Rootwallas and smash the opponent for a big pile of damage. If you tossed Wonder in there, blockers were just irrelevant.
Vengevine is obviously powerful, but I like how they made a green creature that could stay around. With Indestructible and Hexproof getting keyed to Green, I think we'll see some more playable and solid green creatures that make Forests worth playing.
Well that wraps up Rise of the Eldrazi! The set is, by far, one of the most lucrative for traders. You've got a gold mine of stellar Commander cards to trade around. Since the next set, Scars of Mirrodin, feels so new that it must have come out last week, I'll be taking a break from set reviews - BUT NOT FROM ARTICLES! - for awhile. Expect more material next week, but we'll be going over other trading and speculative strategies. In the meantime, hit my archives and take a trip all the way back to Tempest and see what the big-dollar cards are in all of the modern Magic era.
Until next week,