First off, an announcement: As of March 4th, 2012, Quiet Speculation's very own Sigmund Ausfresser is now a proud father! Congratulations Sig!
As Content Manager at Quiet Speculation, I often have the honor of reading the work of our writers and offering feedback in the form of angry, harsh criticism. Most of it is scathing, vitriolic diatribes about Oxford commas and compound sentences. Since Sigfig now has a son at home, I thought it might be best to give him a week off so that he can really reflect on everything we've talked about recently.
So Sigmund has vowed to return next week with his fantastic weekly contribution. In the meantime I wanted to offer up an overview of some of the most expensive cards around.
The cost of Power, restricted Vintage cards, Duals and Fetches remains obvious for most out there. What's less known are those elusive non-land, Legacy legal cards that, for reasons of competition or collection, happen to be worth pursuing. I did not include on this list Alpha and Beta prints due to their collectors value and are primarily limited to those runs. An Alpha Birds of Paradise, for example, is worth $299.99.
Doug mentioned in his article on Monday the uncertain future of Legacy as a format, which I tend to sympathize with. It would seem that Modern could easily displace the attention that Legacy has gotten as the accessible eternal format, but I personally believe it will continue to be deeply seeded in Magic culture for a long time to come. At least I hope so, as nothing quite beats countering that last spell before a Storm player gets to [card Ad Nauseum]five mana[/card].
Anywho, onto the list! All prices are based off of Star City Games' listings and buylist.
Sold out at NM/M, Moat is an absurdly powerful card from Legends. While Moat essentially stops most creature decks in their tracks, proving especially troublesome for an ill-prepared Zoo deck, it falls out of favor in metagames plagued by combo and flying creatures. Delver of Secrets // Delver of Secrets and Vendilion Clique come to mind.
While you can spot Moat in utility decks running Enlightened Tutor, it really shines in Enchantress, even as a common one-of (although some run two: you never expect the second moat).
In fact, the only card keeping Enchantress from seeing more play (aside from the sure oddity it is to pilot) is this $300 four-drop. The unfortunate part about that is that most dedicated Enchantress players already have theirs, which can make trading one away a bit more challenging than you'd suspect, though the $150 SCG buylist price means it would translate into cash fairly easily.
High Tide has been seeing some success recently, Top 8ing GP Indy and an SCG Open. This resilient combo deck relies heavily on resolving a High Tide coupled with some untapping. When Time Spiral became unbanned, this was the card to have buried in the back of your book, next to your Goblin Lords (chart courtesy of blacklotusproject.com):
While it has wound down from it's high, High Tide still performs well when it has its seasons. And who wouldn't want to float a ton of Blue mana with Pact of Negation backup?
Imperial Recruiter finds homes in Aluren and Mono-Red Painter's Stone (Imperial Painter), fetching up the missing piece of the combo. Portal Three Kingdoms was also the home of the $249.99 Time Warp, Capture of Jingzhou, which I didn't give its own spot to because of the nature of Portal Three Kingdoms, where nearly every card is worth something due to the sheer rarity of the set.
Imperial Recruiter is unique in that it has a uniquely broken ability that finds its home in a few decks. Like Candelabra, Imperial Recruiter has its seasons, although the last time Aluren got any public love was when Gerry T. played it because he thought it was fun.
In case you're unfamiliar with the combo, you use these five cards to win:
You only need to have in hand the first two in order to make the board blow up. If you ever find one in the back of a binder, don't hesitate to pick it up. If you get a set, sleeve up the rest of Aluren and catch your local metagame by surprise.
4) Grim Tutor
Tutors are strong. And tutors that put any card into your hand are rare, most of which are banned. Grim Tutor happens to cost three mana and three life, which makes its potential for abuse justifiable. You see Grim Tutor occasionally as a 1-3 of in Storm, but the deck manages to do just fine without.
The fact that it's from the Starter 1999 set makes it all the harder to find. If you have a chance to scoop one up, jump on it. There's only one in stock on SCG, which is SP at $189.99. Since you'll likely be bartering for it in trade, as with the previous cards, the high buylist price essentially means it's cardboard cash.
5) Juzám Djinn
You may be asking "Why is this terrible Arabian Nights card so expensive?" Well, back in the day it used to be a powerhouse Black creature, played off of Dark Rituals and surrounded by Hymn to Tourachs and Consuming Sinkholes.
Now it's just a rare card from a rare set.
Loyal Retainers actually saw play as a way of turning the rampant Survival of the Fittest/Vengevine combo into an Iona, Shield of Emeria Reanimator deck. Much fun was had by everyone during that time period trying to play anything that wasn't Survival.
It's another example of Portal Three Kingdoms and print rarity overriding actual competitiveness. I could see it hitting the playmat again someday, even though Reanimator is likely always going to be a better and more consistent deck. You also cannot forget about casual appeal. "You can play Iona for three!" will always make friends.
Kelly got ahold of one of these around a year ago and asked me if it was ever going to make anything resembling a wave in Legacy. While there are always rumors of new tech floating about forums, The Abyss seems to always be at the back of brewers' minds. "If only we could play this... they could never have a creature during their upkeep again!"
Unfortunately Jace, the Mind Sculptor and now Liliana of the Veil exist, both of which lock up the slot for a bigger permanent. Not only that, it's completely useless in non-creature matches. Although I've seen it a couple times in Pox lists, it's not likely to sweep the format.
Still, one can dream, right? If you have one or two, please build around it and crush some tourneys so those of us who wish we could sleeve it up would. I suppose the price-tag, being from Legends, is a hopeful lure.
8 ) Tarmogoyf
Not much to say here. Extended ballooned the price once. It dipped and now Modern has done it again, all while seeing play in basically every deck playing Green (aside from those favoring Xanthid Swarm).
And it doesn't look to be getting any weaker any time soon, especially with all these Ignoble Hierarchs running around.
9) Nether Void
Another card with a case of "I am from Legends and I want to play!"
You sometimes see Nether Void pop up in a mono-Black or B/G list, but it's more of a pet card than anything. While it would always be the dream to resolve a Void T1 or T2, the chances of that actually happening are so slim, with the payoff being so minute, that the strategy rarely bubbles up as a real possibility. Then there's always the battle of: there are more powerful cards you could be playing with.
If you have a bunch of Nether Voids sitting around, please feel free to throw together a list and goof around. A buylist price of $60 tells me that there are enough people out there wanting to do just that, but I don't see them as being the same people driving across country to a GP...
10) Force of Will
...unlike Force of Will, which is the card you play when you want to make sure you can do something on turn zero.
If you don't understand the power and prevalence of Force, I suggest you poke around the internet and look at some recent Top 8 lists, counting how many Blue decks don't run it.
I remember a couple of years ago when I would see it for sale for $25. I wish I had the foresight to pick them up, but so it goes.
Honorable Mention: Chains of Mephistopheles
As with the other two Black enchantments, Chains wants to see more play than it likely ever will. It does turn off Brainstorm and Jace, the Mindsculptor, and I will admit to having played a mono-Black deck at a larger tournament where my opponent snuck one by. Pretty sure that was the only time I've ever hated a topdecked Brainstorm.
In case you're wondering what this card actually does, here's the oracle:
If a player would draw a card except the first one he or she draws in his or her draw step each turn, that player discards a card instead. If the player discards a card this way, he or she draws a card. If the player doesn't discard a card this way, he or she puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
Honorable Mention: Eureka
Eureka sells for $10 more than Force of Will, but its buylist is $10 lower, which tells me that it's not in too high of demand at SCG despite its high price tag.
That does it for me. I hope you've enjoyed our tryst through some of the more expensive Magic cards out there. Perhaps I'll review the most expensive lands (or creatures!) sometimes soon.
If I happened to miss a card that belongs in this list, or unjustly criticized your favorite Black enchantment, please feel free to say so in the comments!