Insider: Casual Hits from Gatecrash & Return to Ravnica

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From time to time I like to do a series on casual cards, as it is fun and also helps formulate the best cheap trade targets in the coming months.

What I do is highlight the cards that are cheap now, but which I believe will be popular casually. The goal here is not necessarily to find tournament-worthy cards, but the hits like Parallel Lives that will net you money over the long run.

I know cards like this don’t look sexy, but they’re a valuable part of a good grinder’s binder. And sometimes they come up big for you. For instance, for Avacyn Restored, I suggested stocking up on Exquisite Blood, a card that spiked with Gatecrash previews. I suggested stocking up on these because it completes the combo with Sanguine Bond, another popular casual card, and at the time they were available for a quarter or as a free throw-in in trades.

Stocking up on those made some serious money, and that’s what I look for in this series. Sure, sometimes you get lucky with spikes, but even if you don’t these popular casual cards are worth a few bucks each down the road, so getting them as throw-ins now is well worth your time. For instance, even uncommons like Mind Funeral are real money these days, so nothing should be overlooked.

And with the increase in redemption fees on MTGO, it should mean even less copies of these cards flooding the market, making the ceiling on these even higher.

So let’s dig in.

The Cards

Sphere of Safety

Remember when I said nothing is worth overlooking? This is there. Unlikely to ever be worth anything like Ghostly Prison, it does fit into casual enchantment or lockdown decks, which exist and make this worth saving from the bulk pile. Probably not looking at getting anything more than a quarter for these ever, but I’d be remiss to pass it over.

Grave Betrayal

Opinions varied on whether this card was even playable in Draft, but it will always be played in casual and/or EDH circles. People like reanimation and they like zombies, and this plays very well in multiplayer formats.

Necropolis Regent

This makes the list mainly because it’s a mythic, being a vampire, another popular casual tribe, helps. And despite people basically giving this away as a throw-in, it’s still worth almost $2. It’s easy to see this hitting $5-6 in a couple of years.

Pack Rat

If Marrow Gnawer hasn’t proved it, people love rats, and playable rats will make the cut in EDH theme decks every time. Worth throwing these into the “not-bulk” box, since that’s where they’ll be a while from now.

Utvara Hellkite

Another mythic currently worth about $2. This serves as a dragon “lord” of sorts, so it’s another one that could pull in some money down the road. I know you hear a lot about the “angels and dragons” casual crowd, but I promise they do exist, even if you rarely see them. I once had a pair of guys come into the store and trade at absurd prices for literally every dragon and angel I had, with both of them having their preferred tribe.

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

Of all the mythic leaders in this set, I believe Jarad has the most casual appeal, even though his price will be hurt by the fact he was in a sealed product. That lowers the ceiling, but this guy screams “build around me” in colors that can do exactly what he wants.

This explains why he is nearly $2 now and the promo a few bucks more than that.

Slaughter Games

This crosses over heavily into the competitive side, but it’s worth mentioning. This is hands-down the best version of Cranial Extraction I see being made, and the best version of a particular effect is always worth money (another reason why Supreme Verdict is a good pickup).

For Slaughter Games, this is a go-to combo killer in several formats already, and its price will slowly rise from here on out.

Trostani, Selesnya's Voice

Speaking of “build around me,” Trostani is both a good commander and an insane build-around card. Only see the price on this going up over time.

Chromatic Lantern

This is actually played less competitively than I guessed, but the fact remains this is going to be all over EDH for a long time to come, both as a solid accelerator and a great color-fixer in all decks, but especially those not dropping hundreds of dollars on a manabase.


With the push for Guildgates coming in Dragon’s Maze, the easy color-fixing these provide along with being searchable mean they’re likely to never be true bulk.

Angelic Skirmisher

Being an angel with a sweet ability, I can see this maintaining casual appeal for years to come. There are worse things to grab out of the bulk bin.

The Primordial Cycle

While some of these are clearly better in EDH than others, all have some appeal and likely won’t be bulk. That said, I think Sylvan Primordial is the best bet among the bunch. It’s a long way from Vorinclex, but it’s at least in the same ballpark. And Vorinclex is pushing $7 these days.

Crypt Ghast

Personally I’m excited about this one. Nirkana Revenant is more expensive than anyone predicted at the time (though I did say it was a good pickup), and this is the little buddy of the Revenant.

Standard play is affecting this a little, but people still give it away cheap, and it’s a great one to hide away in the back of the binder.

Ogre Slumlord

Remember what we learned about rats and rat lords? Apply that here.


Card is obviously terrible in Constructed play, but that doesn’t mean people haven’t been trying it. In casual circles, that’s not going to stop.

High Priest of Penance

People love them some Vindicate, and the mere reminder of that has kept this from becoming bulk. Not only does it have fringe applications in Standard, the Vindicate factor means it’s not going to be forgotten going forward.

Mind Grind

Along with Crypt Ghast, the top of the line in this set. Glimpse the Unthinkable is worth tons of money and so is Mind Funeral, and this will likely join them, even if it takes some time.

Spark Trooper

People love Ball Lightning, which always trades well despite being reprinted a million times. This will join its cousin in the future as trading quite well to the right player, even if the price doesn’t go very high.

Illusionist's Bracers

Rings of Brighthearth is a respectable EDH card, and the Bracers will join it over time.

Casual Cards as Throw-ins

That’ll do for this edition. Remember, I’m not telling you to rush out and trade for all of these, but there are plenty of times where you’re looking for a throw-in to complete a deal, and this gives you something to work from when you’re in that position. With a little patience, this makes me real money over time and will do the same for you.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

8 thoughts on “Insider: Casual Hits from Gatecrash & Return to Ravnica

  1. Nice article. Scooping up the casual hits is something I need to add to my own trading habits. Another reason I love this site. If not for QS I would have never even thought of trying to acquire these.

      1. That card also screams Play me in any heavy black EDH deck…one player wraths the board…THANK YOU very much!…I’d focus on picking up foil versions though, given how large the set was the casual ceilings are lower than many other sets.

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