It's hard to believe that Scars of Mirrodin is nearly two years old. It's nearing the end of its rotation through Standard and while many of the prices in the set are still under the influence of Standard pricing, there are still a lot of hidden gems in the set. In this article, I'm going to focus on the lesser-known cards and the casual stars. You know about what Copperline Gorge and Darkslick Shores go for, but I'm sure you'll come away from this with a more comprehensive knowledge of the set. If you're looking for throw-ins or running your own bulk box, you'll get a lot out of this.
Troll-Shroud Hexproof! This is a great place to start the article because this is an absolute dog of a rare, but it still checks in for a buck. If you see these, angle for the throw-ins. This card is going nowhere and it's worth a bit more than bulk, even on Ebay.
Five-drop Elspeth offers so much - lifegain, monster creature production and a good shot of hitting a nice ultimate. She never picked up because nobody in Standard had much of a need for her. She's the Cloudgoat Ranger of the format, big and clunky but board-dominating, but the Tokens decks just have not gotten to where they needed to be. Absent the Delver decks, I feel like Elspeth would have had a much better run. However, the chance of getting her Mana Leaked or Snapcasted makes this five-drop too hard to run out.
That said, Elspeth has great casual flavor. She makes three tokens! Over and over! I think $7.75 is a great price for these right now, since she's going to retain a lot of casual appeal for a long time. People will likely overvalue these in trades to your advantage if you're getting rid of them. I'm also kind of surprised that she's this cheap right now, since Planeswalkers don't usually dip this low if they have a relevant ability or two.
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Geth is a good example of the bottom floor on Mythics that sits around a dollar. Geth isn't anything special and he's never seen constructed play, but Geth has enough casual appeal. He's a decently good Commander in monoblack decks and can dominate the lategame. What usually happens is that the Geth player gets their Cabal Coffers and Extraplanar Lens and enough Swamps to make about 26 mana and loot the choice bits from each graveyard. None of this is going to make Geth into a valuable card, but it's good to ask for him as a throw-in because most people see him as overcosted trash.
Koth of the Hammer
Koth is a decently good Planeswalker. He isn't great because he asks you to build around him, unlike the top tier of Planeswalkers. He asks you to favor Mountains and protect him so he can do his thing. Koth has seen plenty of Constructed play, but he's not going to be making many appearances in Modern, his last market. On top of that, the casual market for cards that support mono-red control strategies is pretty slim. Koth isn't a guy that plays well with the 3-damage burn spells that most Red players favor.
Koth's value got crushed by the Duel Deck reprint. I doubt that he'll go much above $5.00, especially after rotation.
Mox Opal is a Mox that they got right. Chrome Mox was just a little too good, after all. Mox Opal asks that you commit a lot of artifacts to your deck, but it doesn't narrow things into "Affinity or unplayable." It's also made appearances in Tezzerator decks in Modern and in the Kuldotha Red decks of previous Standard months.
Since it has Mox in the name, people are going to hold onto this one. I'd like to think that it will drop a little in price, but I do not see this dipping below $10. It's the bedrock of Modern Affinity/Artifact Aggro/Metalcraft or whatever you want to call it. The Mox allows for some of the more busted openings, typically involving Signal Pests or Steel Overseers on turn 1 with backup armies. It also fixes the mana for things like Galvanic Blast or the backside of Ancient Grudge. On top of its general use in the deck, the point stands that just about all the decks that want Mox Opal will want four copies. That should keep demand up.
The big brother of Platinum Angel is bigger, but that's about all he's got going for him. He won't save you from decking or poison (or Coalition Victory) like his little sis will. He won't let you pay life, which means that you cannot use Force of Will, fix your colors with fetchlands or pay Phyrexian mana for goodies - that Gut Shot costs retail. Though Platinum Angel saw a fair bit of Constructed play, Emperion has seen basically none. That doesn't stop it from being an awe-inspiring casual card, so pick these up cheap and move them to the people who are gonna love him.
Skithiryx, The Blight Dragon
Skrillex was the big hope for the Infect decks that largely failed to materialize. The idea was that, with Haste, he'd be the black Ball Lightning, coming from out of nowhere to end the game. He's still a big monster and he saw a tiny bit of Constructed play now and then. He was the bedrock of a million mono-black FNM decks, for example.
It's hard to call the future price on this card. He's got some unique abilities and he's got the Dragon Multiplier, the mathematical price advantage that makes even the worst Dragons worth something. This is far from the worst dragon and he's got a nice, juicy set of abilities. I wouldn't be surprised to see this Dragon end up quietly hitting the $5-8 mark in due time.
Tempered Steel has gone up and down so much, you could have probably sold the card four times for a profit. It was nothing until LSV and crew started tearing up the place with free 3/3 Memnites and big Etched Champions. It's the sort of card that now and then would come into the spotlight because it was the right call for a particular week's tournament.
I'm unsure of whether Tempered Steel will make a splash in Modern because Affinity outclasses the deck as a whole. You could attempt to fit Tempered Steel into the existing Affinity deck, especially if you commit by ditching Galvanic Blasts and grabbing your Plains. While losing the burn would make the deck much weaker, it does mean that your Ornithopters become actual threats. Casting a double-mana card in a deck with only sixteen lands, most of them colorless, is a gusty move though.
Venser, The Sojourner
Venser asks you to build a deck around him so that he lasts long enough to hit his Ultimate. He'll blink your Wall of Omens and retarget your Fiend Hunters. He's the kind of card people love to play with, the same people who flock to Crystal Shard to get more use out of their Eternal Witnesses. Venser decks came and went a little bit in Standard but they never made a great impact. Likewise, he shows up in a few Reveillark decks in Modern, but I don't think we'll all be scrambling for sets of the guy any time soon.
Venser was a good $20 card for awhile, but the duel deck just killed his value. Why would you pay $20 for a Planeswalker when that same $20 gets you two extra decks? The duel decks are a fine way to get Planeswalkers into the hands of players, but it's disappointing that they just use them to drop the price on the planeswalkers without approaching other money cards in Standard. At least now, players who really want the blink effect don't have to shell out crazy amounts for it.
This concludes our tour of the lesser-known corridors of Mirrodin. We'll pick up again soon as we look at the expansions to the block with an eye for the cards that escaped standard play but have not escaped the market's eye. I tend to space these articles out because sometimes, the casual market has not fully embraced cards that are still in Standard and like a fine wine or stinky cheese, it takes some time to mature and be appreciated.
Until next week,