Insider: Corbin’s Return to Ravnica Prerelease Primer

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After what seems like an eternity of previews, here we are again! It’s time for my Prerelease Primer (or set review, if you will) that I do for every new set.

For those of you not familiar with how I do set reviews, I start by giving you all a little credit. I don’t go card-by-card through the entire set and waste thousands of words telling you that obviously bulk rares are, in fact, bulk rares. Instead, I try to hit on the cards drawing the most hype as well as those I feel like you need to have on your radar for one reason or another, whether they be sleepers or casual hits and so forth.

Magic 2013 turned out to be pretty accurate for me. I misevaluated Thragtusk a little bit, not in terms of playability but of long-term price. I pegged it as 7-10 because I didn’t apply the rule of Core Set, which is that due to it being opened in fewer numbers cards can go 20-30% higher than they would in an expansion.

Overall, though, my M13 review, like Avacyn Restored and Dark Ascension before it, turned out pretty accurate, and I’m happy with it.

But enough of the past. Let’s get to the future.

And the future is a Return to Ravnica. The large Fall set is the hardest to predict in terms of price because it brings a completely new metagame with it. In addition, Ravnica looks to be probably the most popular set of all time judging from pre-orders, and right now most all of the cards are overpriced.

But we’ll see what we can do. I’ll be taking a look at some of the higher-hyped cards, as well as those I think actually have upside.

Let’s dig in.


I talked about the Shocks in this article, so check it out if you’re curious as to how I see the lands from the last couple years going forward.

Angel of Serenity

Surely you got in on this at $6 when Quiet Speculation sent you an Insider blast, right? Well, if not, it’s up to $15 on SCG, and I think it’s going to stick between $10 and $20 for the next year or so, depending on playability. It’s not a Commander card, but it’s a very good Angel, so it’s going to be hard to send it below $10. That said, even if it is played, it’s probably not as a 4-of, so I think we can expect $10-15 to be the range we’ll see in a few months.

Martial Law

I don’t think this is bulk, which is what SCG has it priced at ($.50 for them). It’s not going to be huge, but it’s probably okay in the right midrange matchups, so it’s probably going to push $1 or so. Either way, something to keep an eye on but not something I’m really excited about.

Rest in Peace

I do think this will see play, as it’s one of the better graveyard hate cards we’ve seen in a while, and it’s powerful in older formats. At a $4 pre-sell price, I don’t see much of an upside though. This looks like a $3-5 card all the way unless the Energy Field/Rest in Peace deck is a real thing in Legacy (which I doubt).

Still, it will see Eternal play, so the $10 price for foils is probably where the play is this weekend since people will probably trade it to you around half that.

Jace, Architect of Thought

I’m blown away that a bunch of the Magic community (at least in the Twitterverse) don’t think that Jace is good. The +1 ability is much better than people are giving it credit for, especially when it’s almost always going to curve into a Tamiyo, the Moon Sage.

But maybe people are catching on. Jace started at $25 on SCG and is not out of stock at $30. I think it’s likely this card is going to fluctuate somewhere between $20-30 for its lifetime in Standard, so I’d say getting in now is probably not the right call long-term.

Desecration Demon

A powerful card, to be sure, but one that is going to be very metagame-dependent. It’s very bad against Lingering Souls, for instance, but can also top out an aggressive deck or fill a control role.

As it looks right now, though, I’m just not seeing it. Zombies has other options in the four-drop spot, and Gravecrawler itself means this card isn’t good against the deck. As for the control decks, I think they’re looking for a higher-costed but higher-impact finisher.

A powerful card, and one not to forget, but I imagine it’s going to hover around its current $4 price of drop a little because it just doesn’t seem to have a home yet.

Pack Rat

Casual players love Rats, and though there will be a ton of copies of this out there, it’s a good long-term call at $1.

Ash Zealot

I’m surprised this card hasn’t gotten more hype. It’s $3 on SCG right now, and I think people are honestly just used to Red not being a thing. But remember, last year Stromkirk Noble bounced up to $10 around the time of States.

With a lot of the Red hate cards gone, RDW could be a thing again as players start to Shock themselves with their lands. Zealot can easily double in price if that’s the case, and could even see some player in older formats.

Abrupt Decay

Very good card. Not $20 good, long-term. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it hold $20 for a while, but there’s just no way it sits there forever. It’s very, very good, but it’s not on the same level as Snapcaster Mage, in my opinion.

That said, it’s a powerhouse in Modern. Don’t be surprised to see $15 hold for a long time. There’s just no reason to get in at $20 right now.

Armada Wurm

I guess I have to talk about this because it’s $15 on SCG. I don’t love it. It’s fine, it’s a big beater, it’s Broodmate Dragon, etc… Here’s the thing, though, its mana requirements mean it can’t go into a million decks, and since when was GW lacking in big beaters? Honestly? I’d rather pay 6 mana for Collective Blessing and turn all my mana dorks into Armada Wurms.

I don’t like it at $15 at all. I see something more like half that being correct going forward.

Collective Blessing

Speaking of Collective Blessing, it’s a card I like at a buck. It’s going to trade very well to casual players and tops out a Township Tokens-esque deck very well.

Detention Sphere

Another very cool, and very good, card, but another card not worth $10. It doesn’t go into every deck, and the color restrictions actually cut out a fair amount of the decks that would run Oblivion Ring. $5-7 card.

Izzet Charm

Of all the Charms (and they’re all very good), this is the best for Legacy play. That means foil copies are the place to be, and are sold out at $8 on SCG. I know we’ll see these trade for less than that in the first week or two.

Lotleth Troll

This dude is absurd, and I don’t think the $10 preorder is too out of order. Gravecrawler and Messenger are pushing that despite multiple printings, so don’t be surprised to see their next best friend stick around there as well, or come down a little bit if the deck doesn't pan out.

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenious

Here we have my pick for the most-underpriced card in the set. This guy is the new Olivia, and we all remember her big spike in price at the Pro Tour.

Niv is only $10 on SCG. He’s Legendary, so there’s Commander appeal; He’s a Dragon, so there’s casual appeal; and he’s only $10? This means the competitive world is taking a pass on him so far, but this will change. Untapping with Niv completely takes over a game, especially if you’ve done so after curving Jace into Tamiyo into this guy.

I’m calling a spike to $20+ and then settling back around $15-20 long-term.

Rakdos's Return

Not a strong play at $15. It’s good, but there’s a debate as to whether it’s even better than Blightning. For the record, I think it is, and it will blow out a ton of matches, but I still think the card is going to lose 30-50% of its value in a few months.

Vraska, the Unseen

This is a good Planeswalker, and pretty sweet in some Jund builds I’m sure we’ll see. But it’s not $40. It’s a $10-20 dollar ‘Walker at best.

Judge's Familiar

Should’ve been a Merfolk… 🙁

Chromatic Lantern

Awesome card. Awesome flavor, Awesome effect. Slots into Commander decks and Control decks everywhere. I expect this to be a big factor in the Control decks of the format, and a $4-6 pricetag seems correct.


That's it. I can't wait for the new set and to look back on these predictions in a few months!

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

12 thoughts on “Insider: Corbin’s Return to Ravnica Prerelease Primer

  1. Don’t get this as criticism on the articles because they are what they need to be on a site like this, but I would prefer a more neutral stand on how things were called later on.

    I would rather see someone else of the QS-crew evaluate your primercalls in the future, cause you tend to undercriticize yourself. When I’m losing money on your calls, I’d rather have you be honest about it (unlike the thragtusk-explanation).

    1. What’s the issue with my Thragtusk explanation? I explained the thought process I took to the card, and identified the flaw in that process that led to an incorrect result.

      Also, for the record, I pegged it as 7-10 and the card is $10.94 on TCGPlayer. SCG prices are out of step with the market more than usual here, otherwise it would look a lot better if, say, they had the card at $12.

      1. I found that explanation weird for 2 reasons : i never heard of a rule saying core sets are opened less then other sets (i would expect the opposite due to it having a bigger audience) and it would be strange that someone who writes these articles a lot of the time would forget such an important issue.

        1. They’re opened less for many reasons. First of all, a set composed of many reprints does not bring out a ton of players. Secondly, because it is so close to rotation, there are typically only a few cards that impact the format, and even that won’t be for long due to rotation, so it is drafted way less than something as hugely popular as Innistrad or Ravnica.

          Think about M13, there’s so few impactful cards from the set, it makes no sense for people to open en masse, and the lack of an overall theme means it’s not selling near as much as a flagship set like RtR.

          As for not accounting it in my original analysis, it’s a trend I noticed back in M12 but didn’t full consider. Mistakes happen and I’m not perfect, but I do my best to refine my predictions for each set, and I’ve been pleased overall with how I’ve done over the last few years.

          Thanks again for the feedback

          1. That makes sense… the titans being an exception then i suppose, or cards like phantasmal image; is it a good idea btw to pick up phantasmal images online atm (you can get 3 for 4 tic), will they go up again when modern season starts or when people realize they have more use then just standard ?

  2. Gotta disagree with you on Angel of Serenity. You want to be playing it in multiples since you can then loop it to exile dudes/get back your own Angel of Serenity. Also, this guy will be played in Commander: he fits right into Kaalia and Mayael decks, and getting to 7 mana to hardcast it in that format is not hard.

    What are your thoughts on Trostani? Her preorder price on SCG has moved from 3.99 -> 5.99 -> 7.99 -> 9.99 in the last several days.

    1. I do think it’s something you play in multiples, but I it’s probably 2-3, not a 4-of, which makes a big difference if it becomes a tier-1 deck card.

      I think Populate is going to be a really popular casual mechanic, and Trostani seems like the real deal here, especially for Commander. I don’t see her making really big waves in Constructed, but she should be $5-10 forever due to the casual appeal.

  3. Do you not feel that the sheer number of rares hitting the market in the upcoming 3 months will affect the pricing of cards like Pack Rat, Collective Blessing, or Martial Law?

    These cards that are bulk right now could remain bulk because of their lack of competitive play, and the number on the market being this set will be opened so much in the next 3 months?

    1. There will certainly be a ton of rares hit the market, that’s true. On the other, these prices actually cannot go any lower, since they are priced at bulk (or very near-bulk) right now. If Martial Law or Blessing do anything in the first few weeks they’re going to triple or more in price, and the worst-case scenario is you picked up a card as a throw-in that does nothing.

      Pack Rat is much more of a long-term call, so I wouldn’t expect much anytime soon from it.

      Remember, Innistrad was opened a ton too, and cards like Parallel Lives are still real money. And, in terms of drafting, there will actually be less RtR drafted than Innistrad (as a percentage of the block). The massive popularity of RtR isn’t factored into that, of course, but Innistrad was incredibly popular as well, so we’ll see.

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