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The 3 Cs of the Scars Block rotation
Rotation hits the world of Magic every year in October, yet most people are not ready for it. It is a huge shock to the metagame as well as the financial status of an entire block of cards we all knew and once loved. It is a bittersweet time of year because we get Magic Christmas (aka Spoiler season) but lose most of the mental and monetary investments we had developed over the year. But fear not, all it not lost! This is a perfect time for the savvy financiers out there to start doing what we do best, buy low and sell high!
Out of all formats the 3 Cs of Magic finance (Commander, Cube and Casual) benefit the most from rotation. Their formats are truly eternal, keeping almost every card printed in the playable card pool in some shape or form. Cards that derive their worth from these formats are very stable in price and only widespread reprinting or banning in Commander can change their value.
Some of these calls are very long. So not all of them will be for everyone; however, they are all very low risk with most of them being near bulk prices. I have a box of cards that I call my holds box. This is where these cards go. I check them around every set just to see which have doubled or more.
Current SCG Price - $2, Foil $4
Reason – DIY Lord
Lords are traditionally $3 at minimum, but can easily shadow that number. I think the "Do it Yourself" Lord is a future $5 card.
Current SCG price - $7, Foil $16
Reason – Price
A lot of people think Batterskull is still a $10+ card but it is currently selling for $7 retail! This is a Legacy playable 3rd set Mythic! It is not a top-notch staple in Commander but it is definitely playable. It is a devastating Cube card that allows wins to appear out of nowhere. Even with all that said, I can see Batterskull dropping a little more. If RTR was not going to be the best selling set of all time Batterskull would probably have stayed at its current price. But with all eyes and money on RTR, Batterskull should have a little more room to fall. Look for them through non-retail avenues like MOTL and eBay for under $5 in the first few weeks of RTR
Current SCG price – $0.50, Foil $2
Reason – Commander
A game of Commander that doesn’t have the board wiped at least once is not a properly played game of Commander. Bonehoard lets you tack the Lhurgoyf power onto random creatures and/or generals allowing you to you have an amazing tool for any game of Commander. Get 10 of these for half of a Starbucks coffee and send your thank you cards in a year.
Current SCG price – $2, Foil $6
Reason – Casual/Commander/Mana Flare
Mana Reflection. Extraplanar Lense. Gauntlet of Power. Mirrari’s Wake. Historical evidence shows this type of card has value largely based on the Casual and Commander communities. If savvy traders have not already picked these clean from the Spikes in your area, get them now before they clue in. These cards traditionally settle just above the $5 mark.
Current SCG price – $1.50, Foil $3
Reason – Commander/Cube
For some reason Casual players love pretty much anything that doubles stuff. I could easily see this played in Commander decks with a big focus on the Proliferate portion of the card.
Reason - Mill player’s dream or Bulk diggers dream?
Current SCG Price - $0.50, Foil $2
There are a few cards on this list that I suggest to not spend any money of any sort on them. Grindclock is one of them. It could be bulk forever but it could go up to a buck or two at which point you should be able to cash out to buy lists pretty easily. Only hunt this down as throw ins, do not spend a single dime on these.
Current SCG Price - $1.50, Foil $5
Reason – Being Mimic Vat is all the reason it needs
Mimic Vat is definitely my number 1 pick. If you get just one card on this entire list, make sure it is Mimic Vat. At times, Mimic Vat skirted the line of Standard playability, which indicates its power level is above average. It is definitely worth more than its $1.50 retail price tag in a year. The $5 foil retail price tag also seems criminally low. Get any and all Mimic Vats you can find as it is great in Commander and a popular card in Cubes.
Current SCG Price - $4, Foil $20
Reason – Powerful White Enchant Creature
For some reason, White Enchant Creature spells have created a niche market. Cards like Celestial Mantle or Daybreak Coronet are worth more than the average player thinks. Angelic Destiny is better than all of these so it should easily maintain a Mythic worthy price tag.
Current SCG Price - $6, Foil $12
Reason – Planeswalker
Almost all Planeswalkers have inherent worth to them and Elspeth is possibly in the top half of them playability wise. I don’t know if you will find any further price dips or deals on her, she is close to her retail price floor in my opinion; however, even buying at retail is not the worst plan with her.
Current SCG Price - $0.50, Foil $2, Wal-Mart Foil $3
Reason – Commander/Cube
This is another card to not spend actual cold hard cash on. Being a decent sweeper that does something makes it good enough for Commander. It is also a very popular bomb for Cubes. Snagging a few of these for bulk prices is not the worst investment. Just beware of reprint possibilities. It is simple enough to see print in a core set which would destroy any of its potential value. Bonus if you can find the Wal-Mart promo. Not worth much more right now but over time it should separate from the pack.
Current SCG Price - $4, Foil $10, M11 Prerelease Foil $5
Reason – One of the 5 Titans
All 5 of the Titans will always be worth at least a few bucks. Pick up any version you can find. All will be sought after to fill Cubes and Commander decks.
Current SCG Price - $5, Foil $13
Reason – broken in half Commander card
Consecrated Sphinx is insanely good in Commander. If it ever drops below $3 that is the cash buy price in my mind. It is just as important to Blue Commander decks as Primeval Titan was to Green Commander decks before it got the ban hammer. Hopefully I do not have to remind anyone that foils of this card are of the highest priority.
Current SCG Price - $6, Foil $15
Reason – The best Clone ever created
There is not much that needs to be said about Phantasmal Image. It is hands down the best Clone variant ever. It should see play in all of the 3 Cs and it can easily see play in Modern if it finds home in the right deck. If it does see consistent Modern play it will be a $10+ card once again. Get these from your local Spike players. They may have a little more room to drop from where they are currently.
Current SCG Price - $5, Foil $7, Release foil $6
Reason – 2nd best Clone, was for a short while the best Clone
Although Phantasmal Image is the better Clone, in the end being able to act as Sculpting Steel as well will separate Phyrexian Metamorph from Phantasmal Image. It is an all-star in Commander and Cube because of the dual nature of its copying abilities. Metamorph was a promo so its value will be slightly affected by that but either way it is a great card to pick up and will most likely never be reprinted again due to its Phyrexian Mana cost.
That is all the time we have for today. Join me tomorrow for the remaining colors as well as Lands. Oh and some guy named Karn shows up too. I'll also be revealing my 2nd favorite pick of the whole rotation. You can possibly buy a whole deck full of them for the price of a pack of basic sleeves!
8 thoughts on “Insider: Financial Opportunities of the Scars Block Rotation, Part 1”
the wider your focus, the more this reads like a mutual fund ad to me. while i understand the reasoning behind some of these picks and will personally be on the lookout for phantasmal image, phyrexian metamorphs, batterskulls and sun titan in that order i would hesitate to even chase your other picks outside of throw-ins.
also, there is a world of difference between the titans in terms of play-ability across formats. if primeval titans get VERY cheap i would go after them but presently most of the titans remain too high to justify their level of play. mimic vat foils? yes please. otherwise, no thank you. the same goes for caged sun, contagine engine, and angelic destiny.
consecrated sphinx is a good card, but what you describe in the article is not actionable advice.
i would expect to be able to sell phantasmal images @4 to dealers in short order. i also think this card has the potential to sell to dealers for up to 8$. it is good in multiples and splashable.
phyexian metamorph maxes out at maybe a dollar less, is more splashable and also good in multiples.
batterskull is mythic card advantage. it will likely see less play but be worth more than a phantasmal image in the long run. if i could trade one for one i would.
sun titan tricks are powerful enough to give this titan some staying power. 4 titans for one batterskull or the slightly less favorable 3 titans for one phantasmal image.
I am not sure if sounding like a Mutual Fund ad is a good thing or a bad thing. Ill take it as good, but just not your cup of tea. 🙂
In regards to Vat, Sun, Engine and Destiny I think you are wrong. Do you really believe Mimic Vat will stay around $1 for the next year or two? If you do i think you are definitely wrong. The others are not as strong in my opinion but follow similar logic. Caged Sun seems like a no brainer as well, it just may take a long while for it to go up to extraplanar lens levels. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. I’d wager something on it but it is such a long time from now who knows were either of us will be in a year let alone the day after the Mayan Calendar is finished.
In regards to Sun Titan, I may have been unclear. The “Pick up any version you can find. All will be sought after to fill Cubes and Commander decks.” line was only in reference to Sun Titan himself. He is the best Titan going forward as his power is much better suited to Commander. I skipped on talking about Frost Titan because I did not think he will be worth looking at. *SPOILER ALERT* I talk about buying into Primeval if he drops really low in tomorrows article so I guess we are on the same wave length there.
Thanks for reading and I am glad we at least agreed on some things. Long calls are not an exact science but most of mine are so low risk that they can at least help you diversify (more mutual fund speak).
my problem with contagion engine and mimic vat is my inability to see either of those cards get a lot of play in different kinds of deck. caged sun will likely find a home in a couple of decks, but is it a four of? i think obtaining foils of these cards make much more sense as they still seem niche to me.
birthing pod and surgical extraction. spoiler alert?
what i mean by mutual fund is that they are generally over diversified. in the investing world i am pretty suspicious of mutual funds because they are a broker product. they sell you diversity but often that translates to: i don’t know what you should invest in so i’ll hedge.
that said getting any of the cards you say 4/1 for dollar rares or 3/1 is not a bad plan just as trading into bulk can grind out good profits. i just think there are easier targets with less risk AND greater reward.
I am not sure if you realize almost all of my calls are based off of Commander playability. They are absolutely not 4 ofs, they are actually 1 ofs. The power of the Commander market is huge and drives the price of the majority of non constructed cards. The reason I focused on Mimic Vat is because the buy in is so low.
I do talk *SPOILER ALERT* Birthing Pod tomorrow but its buy in is much higher. I didnt talk about Surgical because it isnt as Commander specific. The cards I talk about are the future Basilisk Collars or Rite of Replications of this block. Both those cards are definitely on their way up and they have everything to do with Commander backing them.
Broken down to its basics, I guess you can say what I am suggesting is loosely bulk buying but it is targeted bulk buying. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I am also not saying to get every card on this list. Pick and choose which type of investments you are comfortable with.
while i admit that commander cards can drive card prices, there is no hurry to pick up anything commander specific rotating out because there is so much supply. i think that supply and its short term effect on prices means huge returns if you can pick up foily one-ofs. i also think it’s less risky to consider all formats when speculating on cards.
i certainly think your picks are discussion worthy but lets compare basilisk collar mimic vat:
i could see mimic vat getting to 2.5 in a year but it isn’t likely to go from 1 to 5 dollars (as the collar did).
“I am also not saying to get every card on this list. Pick and choose which type of investments you are comfortable with.”
this is fine and i really do appreciate you sticking your neck out and making picks, i just want to better understand how you are reaching picks. what is your investment thesis? understanding that would clarify what i view as head scratchers (assuming my investment thesis is different) and help everyone pick and choose the RIGHT investment for their strategy.
Thank you for this article Ryan 🙂 It made me ponder and brainstorm a bit in how to acquire these. I was thinking of printing off an A4 with these names + some others resembling a some sort of ”always wants” and their value next to it so people know what it’s worth trading for with me, what do you think?
This seems like a good list, except that Contagion engine is one of those cards that never trades. I doubt too many casual players want it. Sunblast Angel is EDH exclusive, and is hilarious(Kamahl, pay G, destroy your land?), but it’s that card everyone has 30 of. I have never traded one away, and doubt I will if it’s non-foil.
I say pick up the foils of those two, all copies of the rest, and remember to mention they are rotating out. I picked up some Batterskulls off a guy who priced them at $4.
@Jared I will agree that Contagion Engine is a weaker pick and could stay stagnant. I may be accessing it wrong and maybe it isn’t appealing enough to casual players. We’ll see on that one. Sunblast is a card I would not go heavy into. But I do think the Wal-Mart promo is a good pick up. I just did a quick eBay search on them and they are going for $5+. I didn’t think they were this high already. Use this to your advantage using SCGs price. It is probably easier to find them in store than in binders though. You have the right idea trying to get any discount you can from a person reminding them they are rotating.
@Gervaise Having a list of “always wants” seems like a good idea. I have a mental checklist of cards that ready for price increases. Stuff like Rite of Replication. But having an actual list may be good to have on a smart phone. When looking through small binders I get every card I want, but with big binders or multiple binders I start to tunnel vision and sometimes miss things. Having this list would definitely help that.
@tragic In my opinion, Mimic Vat will be like Basilisk Collar or better. Basilisk Collar isnt even a Commander staple. I am actually surprised it is so high myself. It is good but only good for certain decks. Mimic Vat can fit into almost any deck. I personally think it is a high caliber staple.
My investment philosophy leans heavily towards diversification. My collection is huge and I have multiple specs going on all at once. I’m fully fine on waiting a year+ for a card to pan out as long as I bought/traded for it at its bottom. I used to buy playsets of any new cards from a hot SCG deck when the series started. Now that the luster of their series has dwindled I don’t do that anymore unless the deck is the real deal but you can see from that how my mind somewhat works.