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Insider: Restoring Avacyn to Your Binder

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Greetings, QSers!

I’ve been on a brief hiatus while traveling for the holidays, but I’m excited to be back. Lots has been happening in the world of MTG finance during my absence, but being members here at Quiet Speculation, you all know that. These out-of-season Modern spikes have been interesting to observe and make me wonder how things will look during actual Modern season. I’ve definitely got a few specs I’m anticipating cashing out in a few months, but with the way things are going, I may not have to wait that long!

The recent ascent of Stoneforge Mystic reminds me that time moves quickly, and sets that were just yesterday considered “recent” are now becoming “old.” As time passes and new players enter the game, we’re seeing that cards from Zendikar and Scars of Mirrodin blocks are not as abundant as we thought. TCG Player has been bought out on more than a few items recently, and you can expect that more buyouts are on the way. (Whether all of this is sustainable is a topic for another day.)

Although I will sometimes jump in on a good-looking spec right before a spike, getting on the hype train like that isn’t really my style. I prefer to judge cards on quality, gradually accumulate copies via bargain-hunting and/or trade, and wait for a price correction to cash out. With that in mind, today I’d like to discuss a set that’s just starting to go from being fresh in people’s minds to being a thing of the past: Avacyn Restored.

The Worst Limited Format in Recent Memory?

As a Limited player, I cringe when I hear “Avacyn Restored,” or just the letters AVR, or the word soulbond, or basically anything associated with the set. As bad as it was, I drafted it a lot, because I’m a Draft junkie and that’s what was available. So I can say from experience that it really was as bad as it’s made out to be (Except for Mist Raven, which I still recall with great fondness. Sometimes I get attached to commons with no financial relevance, and this bothers me, as I want the cards I love to also make me money. Can’t have it all, I guess. Oh well.)

Not everyone is as hooked on drafting as I am. The Limited format being bad meant that a lot of people just didn’t draft this set, and that led to many of the cards being overpriced during the set’s time in Standard. Remember $50 Bonfire of the Damned? Drafting makes up a significant portion of packs opened, so if a set is underdrafted, fewer of its cards will be on the market.

This makes it the perfect time to start looking at Avacyn Restored cards. The set is recent enough that you may still be able to find AVR cards in trade binders, but it’s also out of Standard, so many players will not be attached to the cards in any way. The set is old enough that cards could start spiking soon, especially when Modern season hits, but it’s recent enough that prices are somewhat deflated right now.

Get to the Picks, Already

Alright, alright. Enough theorycrafting, let’s get down to details.

Simply Miraculous

Bonfire of the Damned was all the rage while in Standard, but I write about it here to warn you to stay away. At a TCG Player average of $5.44, where can this card possibly go? It has no Eternal playability, is not particularly appealing in EDH, and isn’t really a high pick in Cube. Its current price is basically a symptom of price memory due to its time in Standard. Avoid this one.

Entreat the Angels and Terminus have both seen play in Legacy Counter-Top decks, and are at $4.74 and $2.44, respectively. As a mythic, Entreat has the most room to grow, but is also much more narrow and usually played as a singleton, as opposed to the four-of status Terminus usually receives. Of course, Counter-Top decks have been kept down of late due to Abrubt Decay, but if anything in the meta changes, both of these cards could be poised for a spike. Despite it being only a rare, I think the wider utility and lower price of Terminus makes it a better buy.

Temporal Mastery saw a lot of hype upon its release, then did almost nothing during its time in Standard (save for a blue version of Wolf Run Ramp popularized by Reid Duke). However, the hype was for its Legacy appeal, and while that hasn’t panned out, the card says, “Take an extra turn,” which is huge for casual players.

The average price for the cheapest version of Time Warp is $6.66. Time Stretch is $5.89. Even overcosted nonsense like Beacon of Tomorrows is nearly $3. At $3.71 and a mythic, Temporal Mastery will likely double up by this time next year, and if it ever gets broken in Legacy or with a sweet new Commander, don’t be surprised to see more pronounced growth. I wouldn’t go throwing money at this one, but I’ll be trading for every copy I see.

Finally, Reforge the Soul[card] is only about $0.50 and goes well with [card]Nekusar, the Mindrazer. A bunch of stuff spiked due to this new Commander—is Reforge the Soul next? The risk factor is certainly low, even if the card isn’t great.

Casually Interested

There are a bunch of sweet casual cards in Avacyn Restored. Many are underpriced. Casual-only all-stars from Scars of Mirrodin block are spiking lately, so you probably have about a year before AVR cards start seeing the same kind of trajectory. Take that year to scoop up cheap copies of cards like these:

Primal Surge requires a very special type of deck to play, but decks that want it really want it—they might even build around it. As a mythic that costs less than a dollar, why not pick up copies as throw-ins? The ceiling isn’t too high on it, sure, but cheap mythics with niche appeal can still be profitable.

Deadeye Navigator is a full-fledged EDH staple at this point. People at my LGS seem to hate it, which bodes well for the card’s power level. It’s only $0.44 and an argument could be made that it should go in every blue Commander deck. I’m honestly kind of baffled how this isn’t at least a dollar. This could be one worth spending your spec money on.

Conjurer's Closet is a really strong card that is also only about $0.50, and as more creatures with sweet enter-the-battlefield abilities get printed, this card will get better and better. I don’t see it in as many decks as I think I should, but based on power level alone, I think it’s worth getting these as throw-ins.

Eternally Appealing

Around rotation, I told you to stay away from Griselbrand, not because I think the card is bad, but because I think the card is too good and could get banned. I still think banning is a possibility someday, but what I failed to recognize is all the money you could have made in the interim. If a banning doesn’t happen, expect Griselbrand to follow the price trajectory of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. There was a spike recently, but I think there’s money to be made on this card in the long-term. Just don’t be too deep when the B&R list is updated.

I’m still bullish on Restoration Angel, even though it hasn’t budged since the last time I mentioned it. It’s good in Modern, acting as both a value play and a combo piece, and is currently at its all-time low. It also has casual appeal in that it’s reasonable in Commander and is an angel. There’s money to be made here.

Cavern of Souls is also at its all-time low, and is good in all formats—Legacy, Modern, Commander, anywhere you can play tribal decks. You can find copies of this card for under $10 right now, and I don’t think it will be less than $20 in a year. If a tribal deck becomes tier-one in Modern, crazy things could happen to the price.

Finally, Craterhoof Behemoth is on the upswing. It has taken over Progenitus’s role as the game-winning combo piece in the Legacy Elves deck. What card is better at ending the game in a creature-based combo deck? It’s currently $6-7, which is a little higher than I normally like to buy in, but it touched $20 while it was in Standard and has a lot of appeal in both competitive and casual formats. Keep an eye out for spare copies and snap them up if you can.

That’s it for today. I’m glad to be back, and I hope you all had a nice holiday season! Have some more picks from Avacyn Restored? Sound off in the comments!

6 thoughts on “Insider: Restoring Avacyn to Your Binder

  1. Interesting how perceptions of formats vary. While I consider AVR sealed to be the worst sealed format I’ve ever played (well, traditional sealed. The actual worst was the Theros Pre-release packs. Way too many fleecemane lions in a format with next to no way to answer them. I saw one guy with THREE of the buggers in his deck), I actually find Theros draft far, far less fun than AVR. AVR was shaky, but in all the times we’ve drafted it, I’ve had 1 interesting Theros draft.

  2. Deadeye Navigator is great in EDH. A little too good even. Sheldon Menery, from the EDH rules committee, has indicated on the EDH forums that the card is on his own list for discussion in their next meeting:
    http://mtgcommander.net/Forum/viewtopic.php?p=174633#p174633

    This is no guarantee the card will get banned, however if it does get banned it’s bound to be a bulk rare for all eternity. I would be very cautious of getting in. Last year there was a banned list announcement at the end of January, I would certainly wait for that before buying in.

  3. Great article. I agree with most of the points.

    I was too scared to buy Griselbrand when he was $13. At $20 I would be even more scared to have anything to do with him.

    Entreat the Angels and Terminus also have casual appeal. In a slower format, one of the most broken things you could do is miracle Entreat for 4 on turn four, and late game it’s even more impressive. Terminus gets rid of commanders.

  4. “If a tribal deck becomes tier-one in Modern”

    You should look up the modern merfolk decks…those are close to (if not) tier 1. The entire legacy merfolk deck minus the free counterspells, wastelands, and rishadan ports are modern legal. But given modern doesn’t have to deal with the kind of combo decks that legacy does, I really think this deck could break out as an all star in modern. They get spell pierce (to stop the most problematic spells) and some have played around with Disrupting Shoal to take the place of FoW (I don’t think it panned out..but still there is an option).

  5. There’s a chance Bonfire might actually be playable in Modern Tron. It’s been played in some recent Legacy 12 Post lists. I absolutely despise this particular build, but I understand the theory of including it in a big-mana deck, since it arguably functions as a combination of board wipe and win con. While 12 Post can generate a lot more mana than Tron and has access to easier ways to miracle it (like Top or Brainstorm), it might be feasible in RG Tron (or maybe some kind of UR Tron). Personally, I’d rather have an O-Stone, All Is Dust, or Pyroclasm to wipe the board. But I wouldn’t count it out entirely, especially if we ever get some proper library manipulation into Modern.

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