So I’m in a situation right now where I have very, very few Return to Ravnica block staples left in my inventory. Modern cards just keep going up, and any time I trade or sell a staple, even at significant profit, I find myself regretting that sale a few weeks later. I’m not convinced Theros cards have bottomed out—in fact, I think many are priced surprisingly high relative to the amount of play they see.
I don’t think it makes any sense to acquire cards for Standard at this time. In fact, with only a few days left in Standard PTQ season, I’m feeling pretty good about my decision to sell out of the format last month. If you’re not an FNM grinder looking to play Standard up until rotation, I think you have a few weeks to buylist or trade out your collection before prices crash. With the way the market has been going these days, acquiring Modern staples is obviously best if possible, even if you have to pay a premium when trading Standard cards.
But I’ve written a lot about acquiring Modern staples, as have most other MTG finance writers. I’d like to hit a different note today—casual staples. Casual cards routinely behave differently than tournament cards. Rotation often has little to no effect on their prices. If a card is rare enough, it can jump exponentially, although not usually overnight. Casual staples tend to grow over time, often making them good long-term holds.
Today, I’d like to discuss a few mythics from Return to Ravnica block that I think are good trade targets during the next few months. If you can’t turn your Standard cards into Modern staples, you’ll probably have an easier time turning them into casual goodies that are currently undervalued.
Here’s a card that peaked at $30, albeit from Standard demand during Junk Rites’s heyday. However, this card has a lot going for it. It’s an angel, which is well-known as one of the most popular casual tribes. It’ a mythic, and thus in short supply relative to other cards from the set, assisted even more by the fact that Return to Ravnica wasn’t opened as frequently as other recent fall sets (at least as far as drafts go).
The card has a potent and flexible effect, and is definitely powerful enough for EDH and Cube shenanigans. It’s unlikely it ever breaks into Modern, but it could be worth considering for a reanimator shell in creature-oriented metagames. Regardless of Modern play, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, shows us that a high-cost mythic angel doesn’t need to be played in anything but casual formats to justify a very large price tag.
At less than $4, with its price history, rarity, tribe, and power-level, this seems like a slam dunk to be $10 or more within a couple years. I wouldn’t go buying out TCGplayer, but I think picking these up in exchange for soon-to-plummet Standard staples is an excellent plan.
Unlike the first angel on this list, Aurelia has seen barely any Standard play. Its price has plummeted from the hype-inflated levels of the preorder period and is currently at its all-time low. But again, we’re looking at a mythic angel with major casual appeal, at or near its floor.
Aurelia’s appeal is more limited than Angel of Serenity’s, given its more restrictive colors and the likelihood that it probably isn’t quite good enough for Cube. Still, it’s one of the premier choices for a red-white Commander deck. There’s no way Gatecrash sold as much as Return to Ravnica, so it’s also in shorter supply.
I think there’s a chance this card comes down another dollar or so before it hits its floor, but I also think it’s an easy $10 a year or so after rotation. I won’t be aggressively targeting these, but I will be keeping a close eye on the price and picking up any that I can get for cards I’m actively looking to out.
The Simic’s guild leader has always been on the fringe of being a sweet Standard card, even seeing occasional play in Bant control decks. I think those days are behind Zegana, as I don’t anticipate many new decks in Standard before RTR block rotates out. The card is also just not as good without Thragtusk in the format.
But dangit, this card is sweet. Green-blue is one of the most popular and powerful color combinations in Commander, and Zegana is an excellent general for such a strategy. She’s also a perfect addition to RUG decks, and is easily one of my favorite cards in my Maelstrom Wanderer EDH deck. As a commander, Zegana offers repeatable and efficient card draw, which is always a welcome thing to have on hand.
I’m honestly not sure where to predict the price going over the next couple years, but I’m pretty confident this will be a popular card moving forward. I’ve got some copies in my long-term-hold box and wouldn’t mind picking more up. If the recent spike is due to Standard potential and not the beginning of the inevitable slow casual growth, I could see this getting pretty inexpensive as we approach rotation. Keep an eye on the price the next few weeks to see if we’re on an upward or downward trajectory.
Something from Dragon’s Maze
I haven’t been alone in suggesting that Dragon’s Maze cards are eventually likely to be more expensive than their power level dictates, given how poorly the set was received and how briefly it was drafted. Unfortunately, this really hasn’t come to pass except with Voice of Resurgence and, to a lesser extent, Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Will the set eventually be filled with expensive cards? I still think so! Short supply is short supply—we just need some demand.
Ral Zarek was long in demand by Vorthoses and fans of Duels of the Planeswalkers. The buildup and eventual printing of the card is probably at least somewhat responsible for its $10 price tag today. Ral is not hugely powerful, but the character is popular, as is the color combination. Its current price might not make it a great trade target (and certainly not a good purchase), but if the Dragon’s Maze effect does eventually extend past Voice of Resurgence, this card could be more expensive than it truly deserves.
I like Progenitor Mimic even more, though. Again we have a card that is in one of the most popular EDH color combinations. It’s extremely powerful and really just plain cool. It’s currently available for less than $4 with literally no Standard play. This is a trade target I really like, and if it ever dips to less than $2, I’ll likely be buying in.
Finally, Deadbridge Chant is long past the days of making Brainstorm Brewery listeners an easy buck, and after peaking as high as $8, is now available for under $2. While this card’s Standard days are likely behind it, it’s a cool, abusable effect that is perfect for EDH. I’d be surprised if this wasn’t at least $5 next year, which makes it an easy pick up for just above bulk mythic prices.
Everyone’s looking at Modern these days, and for good reason. The opportunities there are awesome, but they’re also getting pretty expensive. Hopefully I’ve pointed out some easier-to-acquire options to make you some money during these next uncertain months. If you have any comments or your own picks to make money off of casual cards, please share below!