Insider: Investing in Cards with Potential

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A few months ago Daybreak Coronet was practically worthless… now it’s pushing $20. How can we identify these kinds of cards as possible pickups before they spike? How are we evaluating cards to begin with? Are we being proactive or reactive in our approach?

I’d like to make a few quick points in this article on how to identify cards before they spike, because card potential is an important aspect in speculation that’s easy to overlook until we see them Top 8 or win a large event.

In the case of Daybreak Coronet, it was a card that clearly got better the more enchantments were printed. Was Rancor becoming Modern legal the card that finally propelled this deck to its new heights? Were the Umbras the nails that made it tournament viable? Maybe it was a combination of both, as the more enchantments that became available, the more likely we are to reach a critical mass of selection to make it playable. I don’t think Wizards of the Coast is going to stop printing Auras anytime in the future either, so Daybreak Coronet will only continue to improve (after it settles on a price)!

What are some other cards and categories we can look at in an attempt to deduce future potential values?


There was a lot of talk about Master of the Pearl trident these past months (and not just by Corbin Hosler this time!), and it looks like there are even a few good ones in Gatecrash. The “lord” concept applies to every faction: Elves, Zombies, Vampires, Goblins… all of them. The more creature types printed that benefit from lords, the better the lords themselves become. There is potential for any lord to become an all-star when paired with enough creatures of its type.

Cards to keep an eye on: Master of the Pearl Trident, the Innistard cycle of uncommon Lords, Knight Exemplar, Adaptive Automaton, Elvish Archdruid, etc…


Cheap, effective tutors see play in every format. Whether they be broad (Demonic Tutor – get anything), or specific (Enlightened Tutor – get enchantment), being able to find the cards that you need, when you need them, is always a powerful play. The more cards that are printed that interact with tutors, the better the tutors themselves become. That means that the potential of a card that searches for another is limited only by the number of cards available that it can find. Would the fetchlands (ex: Misty Rainforest) be as good as they are now without Shocklands (ex: Breeding Pool) to search for?

Two examples of overlooked cards that I feel have potential right now are Glittering Wish and Ranger of Eos.

Glittering Wish improves every time a new multicolored spell is printed. Being able to have a toolbox sideboard that has answers to most decks can’t be bad. Searching out a Kitchen Finks vs. Burn, Vexing Shusher vs. Control, or Fracturing Gust against Affinity seem like strong plays. It’s only a matter of time before there are enough multicolored spells (if there aren’t already?) for this to start seeing competitive play. Maybe the recent cycle of Ravnica Charms will push it over the top?

Ranger of Eos gets better for every new 1cc creature that’s printed. It already sees some Modern play and is capable of fetching things like his new best friend Deathrite Shaman. The Ranger will continue to shine as more 1 drop creatures are printed, so it’s potential to become a staple can only increase.

Utility Cards

This category includes cards that are all around powerful, but not specific. Cards like Stifle fall into this realm, as it is good against any activated ability, having broad appeal. Although it is already considered a valuable card, there are other examples out there that have game changing effects that aren’t yet seeing play/are only seeing limited play and have the potential for greatness.

Some examples could include Mindbreak Trap and Shadow of Doubt.

Mindbreak Trap's effectiveness correlates directly with the popularity of Storm and Combo. It can be played in any deck, which makes it desirable, and it's a mythic, increasing its scarcity. Non-blue decks having sideboard access to counterspells in order to surprise Pyromancers Ascension or Second Sunrise players will keep it in demand.

Shadow of Doubt is another card that’s narrow, but can be used in response to many of the decks that are being played right now, even if it’s “just” to counter a fetchland being cracked. It’s also really good against two tier 1 Modern decks: Tron & Birthing Pod. Against Tron it negates their tutors (Sylvan Scrying / Expedition Map) and acts as a combination of creature removal + Time Walk when your opponent thinks they’re going to gain value off of a Pod activation. Worst case scenario, you're paying 2 to draw a card at instant speed.

Powerful Cards with Unique Effects

Another broad category that encompasses all those cards out there that make you think: “This would be really good IF…”

Think Outside the Bun!

What other undiscovered gems can YOU think of? Why do you feel they have that “something something” that could propel them from obscurity into the limelight?

Obviously there are more categories and cards that we could go through, as almost anything can pull a Splinter Twin and go from worthless to valuable overnight with the right counterparts. The great thing about speculating on these kinds of cards is that they’re typically low cost investments, as you’re identifying them before the boom (Speaking of “Boom”, have you picked up your playset of “Boom / Bust” yet? Make sure you’re properly signed up for Insider emails!).

Those 4x Glittering Wish would cost you about $4, and Mindbreak Trap $12, so you’re not exactly risking your entire paycheck on a high "risk", high reward speculation.

Use your judgment! If you see a cards potential, odds are others do as well. Be sure to hit up the forums and toss around some Insider feedback.

I hope some of the topics we discussed today helped you to look for cards with potential instead of waiting for the format to “discover” them - because by that point, it will already be too late. Have confidence in your own calls. You can’t win every time, but don’t let your Shadow of Doubt shackle your creativity!


Carl Szalich


Carl Szalich

Currently found ranching Orggs in the wilds of London, Ontario, Canada, I've been playing MTG for the past 15 years. I remember when trading Dual Lands for Craw Wurms was the "in thing to do", and Shivan Dragon fought Royal Assassin to see which would carry the higher price tag. I'm primarily interested in MTG finance, and like a good Icatian Moneychanger I believe that we are all "bigger than we think" when it come to what we have, and what our potential may be.

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4 thoughts on “Insider: Investing in Cards with Potential

  1. Welcome back! Good to see you writing again, nice article :-).

    Don’t forget Mirror Entity as a Lord. It’s been going up in price for quite a while. Also, Enlightened Tutor also gets Artifacts, making it even better.

    I’ve been setting aside a few Shadow of Doubts since it was mentioned as a potential target some time last year. Definitely believe the card has some potential and I just got 3 among a stack of crap rares, so it’s not like it’s costing me much.

  2. Great article. I also pay attention to toolbox-type artifacts with CMC ≤ 1. Targets for Trinket Mage and/or Artificer’s Intuition often have potential to be silver bullets. And Artificer’s Intuition has the potential to be absolutely busted when we get a critical mass of these artifacts (especially if Modern ever gets one to enable a Bomberman-style infinite combo).

  3. Do you think Infinite Reflection is one of those “splinter twin” cards waiting to be broken? The 6 CMC might hold it back from superstar status. The fact that it has an immediate effect on the board and is in blue certainly doesnt hurt.

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