Insider: Beyond the Hype – Analyzing the $5+ Fate Reforged Preorders

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I remember when prereleases were a great time to pick up cards. You could draft all day and trade, or even wait for cards to trickle in to the dealer tables.

Around the time Lorwyn launched, preorder prices were still pretty reasonable. Nobody had any idea how good the first iteration of Planeswalkers were, and preorder prices were more often reflective of the average player's risk aversion than the wallet-busting hype trains we see today.

Believe it or not, but I bought my first Bitterblossom for $5 at the Morningtide prerelease.

Today, however, we're usually lucky if cards we want to play with week one don't completely tank from their preorder price. We can occasionally see something others don't and actually make money on a preorder, but it's tough. For the purposes of today's article, I'm going to take a look at every card that is preordering for $5 or more and determine how realistic I believe the preorder price to be.

Brutal Hordechief

Brutal Hordechief certainly has the feel of a constructed playable card. It also looks strong enough for Cube and is likely to have some casual appeal.

That said, the constructed application of this card is quite narrow. There are a lot of powerful four-drops in Standard, and many of them happen to be black. My gut tells me that this card is weaker than Sorin, Butcher of the Horde and Siege Rhino. I mean, obviously it's worse than Siege Rhino, but the point stands that it's tough for a four drop to find a home in a world of powerful four drops.

The only deck type I could see wanting this more than other available fours would be Monoblack Aggro, though the ultimate problem there is that the deck was quite bad pre-Fate Reforged, and Brutal Hordechief is probably not good enough to change this.

All in all, five dollars seems like a reasonable price, particularly if you're looking to jam this guy week one. But every dollar you spend beyond the fifth strikes me as a loss.

Verdict: Wait.

Monastery Mentor

Have you ever seen a more hyped Gray Ogre in your life? Monastery Mentor is clearly Standard playable, but the real question is how many decks it fits into--an issue I addressed a couple weeks ago. It's going to be very difficult for a Standard-only card that only fits into one or two decks to maintain a $30 price tag.

Of course, there are those who believe that Monastery Mentor is not a Standard only card, but rather that it will play very well with Young Pyromancer in Modern. While this is possibly true, in order for Monastery Mentor to take off in Modern, players will have to make the decision that it is more powerful than Geist of Saint Traft.

An uncountered Geist will leave opponents desperately trying to trade off their Snapcaster Mages, whereas Monastery Mentor is just as easily dispatched by Lightning Bolt as any other creature.

There is certainly some argument for Mentor here, such as a Liliana of the Veil infested metagame or a metagame defined by blockers to the point of making Mentor stronger than Geist, but neither of these is presently the case in Modern.

Such a shift could occur, but for now $30 strikes me as an absurd price. If you have a very good list and want to game with Mentors soon after the release, then it's not completely unreasonable, but I fully expect these to at least half in price before long.

Verdict: Break Standard or wait.

Shaman of the Great Hunt

This card has every problem that Brutal Hordechief has with none of the upside. It doesn't fit into the existing Monored deck, which isn't the strongest contender in the first place, and it has a pretty powerful card competing with it in the form of Ashcloud Phoenix.

I would easily take any money I was planning on spending on Shaman of the Great Hunt and dump it into Ashcloud Phoenix. It's a more resilient threat that can attack past Courser of Kruphix. Shaman is certainly a nice looking card on its face, but there're just too many negative external factors for me to endorse it.

Verdict: Pass on this one.

Soulfire Grand Master

This is just ludicrous. This card will see play. Of that there is no question.

However, a Grizzly Bears that has application in the very late game isn't something a ton of decks are itching for. If your deck isn't trying to curve out aggressively, then you're just not going to want to play this card.

The only decks that will look to play Soulfire Grand Master are Boros and Jeskai. I do believe you'll be hard-pressed to find a list of either archetype that doesn't want SGM, but, at the same time, I don't know if it's a four-of. The body is incredibly easily outclassed and the ability is extremely mana-intensive.

The lifelink makes this matter against aggressive decks and the ability makes it very relevant in board stalls, but it's hard to deny that this price is largely hype-driven. Unlike Monastery Mentor, I would be totally fine playing a deck that wants this card without bothering to acquire any week one.

Verdict: Wait.

Temporal Trespass

I like this card. Unlike with Treasure Cruise, I could see it actually just being very good without being broken--not an easy thing to accomplish with delve.

I find it possible, and even likely, that Temporal Trespass finds its way into every constructed format. It would be hard to imagine foils not being sought after for EDH as well.

That said, playing more than one copy of this card sounds like outright insanity, which is a large part of why I think the card is good without being broken--you can only reasonably cast one or two, which avoids the absolute degeneracy of chaining Time Walks.

This will ultimately stop the price from increasing too much, but, at the same time, it's hard to imagine it dropping much lower.

Verdict: Buy one/two as soon as you want to play it. It could drop a dollar or two if you're planning on speculating.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

So, this card is just cool. It might see play as a one or two of in Modern and it will see play in some capacity in Standard. Legacy is possible, if fringe and unlikely, and EDH is a guarantee.

People are going to want this card. That said, you can probably do better than $30. I don't know how much it will actually drop, but I'm having a very difficult time imagining it will increase in price without becoming a Standard staple.

Verdict: Wait.

Warden of the First Tree

This card has often been compared to Figure of Destiny, with the exception that it is worse.

I would go much further than merely saying that it's worse than Figure of Destiny. None of the factors that made Figure awesome are present here. Warden doesn't have a relevant creatures type, isn't good enough for Modern (Figure was Extended playable), and Ranger of Eos isn't Standard legal.

For 3 mana across at least two colors we get... a Trained Armodon. In a world of Lightning Strike and Bile Blight.

After spending seven mana, we still find ourselves losing to the same suite of removal while enough time has passed for even less efficient removal spells to trade favorably with our creature. Fleecemane Lion at least gets to be awesome at the seven mana mark and initiates an interesting cat and mouse game.

Warden does have the upside of being able to trigger its last ability multiple times. Making it to this point is very mana intensive and risky, though, and only once the final ability is triggered does Warden make the jump from being decent to great. This in no way outweighs the downside.

Warden will probably see a non-zero/decent amount of play, but it's not about to knock anybody's socks off.

Verdict: Wait.

Whisperwood Elemental

This card is very strong. Manifest, in general, is a deceptively strong ability. The 2/2s generated by this guy can either just be very good morphs (the intended goal of Adam Yurchick's brew last week) or opportunities to influence combat with clever bluffs. It remains to be seen exactly how strong mainfesting is, but the other abilities are not to be underestimated.

Making a 2/2 (with potential upside) every turn is strong. It's a part of what Xenagos, the Reveler and Master of the Wild Hunt do, and those were both constructed staples. Whisperwood Elemental's other ability allows it to really mess up combat or counteract opposing sweepers. These are both very powerful abilities.

Ultimately, there does come the question of how many green decks want this card. Unfortunately, the answer might not be many of them, though it's certainly some of them.

I don't believe that this card is currently fully understood and I expect it to increase in value. It's hard for me to imagine it going above the $10-15 range, so I don't know that I'd speculate on it aggressively at its preorder price, but I would recommend picking up a set.

Verdict: Buy.


As my introduction heavily implied, buying cards at their preorder prices these days is often just hemorrhaging value.

That said, there are various reasons to preorder a handful of cards. The biggest motivation to preorder is, of course, to play with the cards, but a few do slip through the cracks without being inflated by hype.

You sure won't find the next Tarmogoyf or even the next Spellskite if you're not paying attention. I don't believe there is any such card in Fate Reforged, but I do think that Whisperwood Elemental is bound to mature from its preorder price.

How do you feel about my list? Think I'm wrong about Monastery Master being overhyped? Disagree on the power of Whisperwood Elemental? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

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