Insider: Dragons, Origins, and Modern Masters II – Oh My!

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Sometimes coming up with a topic to write about is hard. And sometimes you get a week like this where the abundance of new information is staggering.

It's weeks like this that make me wish I had five columns just so I could cover everything.

Modern Masters II

This one's quick and dirty: the obvious has happened, Tarmogoyf and Karn Liberated were announced as reprints in Modern Masters II. I wasn't at PAX this weekend, but the collective "duh" was felt for thousands of miles in every direction.


Our favorite zombie rooster is going to see another round of reprints.

What are the financial implications? This card will probably dip down to $150 for a few weeks as excited teenagers open them in MM2 packs and quickly trade them away for entire Standard decks. But then I have a feeling we're back to business as usual. There's an ancient Twitter proverb that reads "If you give a man a 'Goyf, he's going to want three more."

Tarmogoyf doesn't behave like a lot of other cards. Few people pick these up as an investments because the buy-in is so high, and at that price you might as well just grab a dual land. No one really trades for  Goyfs they don't need for much the same reason.

Tarmogoyf is a blue collar card. He's a working man... err ... Lhurgoyf. Tarmogoyf holds a premium price tag because once people get a playset together, they hold onto it. Basically forever. For many people, cracking that first Tarmogoyf in MM2 is just a start--it's the moment they realize they can own four and they start their journey.

If you've been holding onto 'Goyfs as an investment - WHY?

If you've been waiting for 'Goyfs to be slightly more obtainable - here's your chance.

Karn Liberated

Karn Liberated, on the other hand, is going to take a hit. Scars of Mirrodin block, on the whole, hasn't really matured to the point where its cards have started to climb in #value.

Karn has been steadily climbing over the last year, as he is a popular card for Commander and the variety of Tron decks in Modern, but I expect a $15-20 hit right off the top and a bit of a price stagnation as the excess supply hitting circulation grinds things down to a halt.

While I don't expect Karn to go full-Vendilion Clique and shoot right past his original price tag, he'll return to the $50 mark over the next year and a half.

Liliana, Heretical Healer Liliana, Defiant Necromancer

Magic Origins

Magic Origins was also announced at PAX and we were given a sampling of what's to come: planeswalker flip cards for Liliana, Jace, Nissa, Gideon, and Chandra.

The biggest implication of this news is that Liliana of the Veil now has legs. Expect that price to take off running, as we know she's safe from reprints for at least six months--almost certainly longer due to the fall set taking place on Zendikar. Liliana has been holding around $75 out of fear of reprint in the Core Set because it was stated that she would have been in M15 if mono-black Devotion hadn't been so powerful already.

A $100 price tag on Liliana of the Veil is right around the corner.

Battle for Zendikar

We're returning to Zendikar next fall, and that means fetch land reprints... right?


Mark Rosewater has spoken many times on how it is Wizards' job to deliver on player's expectations as much as it is to surprise them with new cards. One of the biggest examples is that Mirrodin is where we find Moxen now--Chome Mox on our first trip, Mox Opal on our second. And we've set a precedent so there will likely be a Mox if we ever return to the plane.

Take a look at Ravnica. We got shock lands when we returned there, so player expectation is that we'll see fetch lands when we return to Zendikar.

The other part of this dynamic is that Wizards has kinda painted themselves into a corner with their recent successes: Return to Ravnica, Theros, and Khans of Tarkir were each subsequently the best selling Magic sets of all time, so the pressure is on to keep that train rolling. Including the enemy fetch lands is a pretty safe way to ensure that next fall's large set follows this trend.

Dragons of Tarkir

Spoilers are well underway, and we've seen an early blitz of mythic rares being spoiled within the first week--a departure from past spoiler seasons.

Evaluating the mythic rares in a set should be your first step in determining if buying heavily into sealed product is for you. And so far we've got a pretty mixed bag.

Narset Transcendent

The initial impression seems to be that Narset Transcendent is absolutely bonkers, maybe even the next Jace, the Mind Sculptor!

I've got news for you, kid. This is not the next JTMS, but it's closer to a Jace, Architect of Thought and, realistically, not even that good.

  • First ability - Draw half a card.
  • Second ability - Late in the game, give a powerful spell rebound.
  • Third ability - If you draw a half a card a bunch of times then cast this, your opponent has to kill you with creatures.

When you put it like that, maybe this is not as exciting as it seems at first glance.

Don't get me wrong, there are some powerful implications associated with throwing rebound on a Dig Through Time, but that's not happening before turn six, at the earliest. And really, what other spells are you going to give rebound to?

I would put the realistic long-term ceiling on this card at $20, with the price patterns more closely following Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. It  is unlikely to appear as more than a two-of in any deck and realistically needs three colors to take advantage of her second ability.

Sarkhan Unbroken

Meanwhile, on the other side of Tarkir, we have Sarkhan Unbroken. Rematerialized as a member of the Temur clan after his time travel shenanigans reshaped history, Sarkhan comes back with some familiar tricks and a little bit of something new:

  • First ability - Draw a whole card and add a mana of any color.
  • Second ability - Make a dragon.
  • Third ability - Do something neat in Commander.

Like many planeswalkers of this era, Sarkhan comes to us with two relevant abilities and one that's likely never going to be used in constructed. With the apparent lack of constructed playable dragons spoiled so far, his ultimate is realistically going to be "go get the other two Stormbreath Dragons out of your deck and put them into play too" - not exactly a reason to give up drawing cards and pooping out 4/4 flyers.

When you combine having two modestly useful abilities alongside the dismal reality that Temur is the weakest of the wedges on Tarkir, you get a card that is sweet, but unlikely to have a home. The previously-established bar for three color planeswalkers is Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker and even ol' Bolas saw very little play.

This Sarkhan is almost guaranteed to settle below $10 with a strong case for being a $5 planeswalker.

Shorecrasher Elemental

OMG! It's like a mini-Aetherling!

An Aetherling that's not unblockable, not swinging for eight damage, and is unable to dodge wrath effects.

The spoiling of this card has caused Master of Waves to double in price overnight. I would advise against chasing that number, and if you're able to find a sucker that wants your Masters, SHIP THEM IMMEDIATELY.

Sure, there is a dream world where Mono-blue Devotion is a thing again, but you might have also noticed that this is in the middle of a multicolor block and nearly everything that enabled that deck to be good has rotated. What do you think you're going to do? Play Hypnotic Siren and Mindreaver? Best of luck with that ...

"But this also gets pumped by Master of Waves because it's an elemental!"

Best of luck with that, kid.

Deathmist Raptor

Finally, the mythic rare we've been waiting for to make all our Secret Plans decks viable!

Deathmist Raptor is like a Vengevine that's not at all like a Vengevine. The recursion plan with Deathmist Raptor is not realistic for any constructed deck, so this card has to stand on it's merits of being a 3/3 Deathtouch for three mana, which is a decently efficient creature, but it certainly doesn't feel "mythic" enough.

I could be wrong. Maybe there's a deck where Hooded Hydra joins Deathmist Raptor for a plethora of morph shenanigans, but so far there have been how many constructed viable morph cards?

I wouldn't expect this to ever be worth more than $3, and only then to fill a curve with an aggressive creature that trades up with a Siege Rhino.

Descent of the Dragons

Effects like Descent of the Dragons have long been the stuff of imagination in Magic. We've dreamed of the day we'd cast Warp World and flip over a menagerie of awesome creatures while our opponent's flipper over a pile of basic lands.

And this card presents us with a similar trap. Maybe there's a world where we curve Elvish Mystic into Dragon Fodder into Hordeling Outburst into Xenagos, the Reveler, and then make six dragons on turn four... Hey, that sounds pretty sweet!

But, alas, it's merely a pipe dream... Magical Christmas Land is only to be visited by our hearts and imagination, not our wallets. This is a six mana card that requires you to destroy other resources to POTENTIALLY get dragons as a reward, assuming your opponent doesn't pull the trigger on Bile Blight or other removal spells. Then if it does resolve successfully, all you need is for your opponent to not cast a board wipe the following turn so that you can attack.

This is what we call a bulk mythic, ladies and gentlemen.

Risen Executioner

I confess: I thought for a time that Skaab Ruinator was going to be a thing.

Risen Executioner is the Skaab Ruinator of Tarkir. While this will hold a minor premium for being another zombie lord, the downside on this card is that it's going to be prohibitively expensive to recur. There might be a world where you clear out your graveyard with Empty the Pits at the end of your opponent's turn and then cast Risen Executioner to pump your zombie team so you can swing for the win, but is that really what you want to be doing?

We can't even hope for more delve cards to show up in Dragons to help this guy out, as that mechanic has been phased out. Guess there's always Gurmag Angler!

This is another $3 mythic, only because it's essential for those cute Tribal-Commander decks. But it isnot a constructed contender by any means.

Mythic Bust

With thirteen of the fifteen mythics spoiled already, this set is feeling like a major bust. I'll take a look at the remainder next week, but I'll give you a spoiler: they mostly kinda suck too.

Dragons of Tarkir may have the worst mythics of any set ever printed. For this set to be popular, Wizards is going to need a really sweet cycle of rare lands (maybe Horizon Canopy?) to seal the deal, because these mythics are looking pretty rough.


8 thoughts on “Insider: Dragons, Origins, and Modern Masters II – Oh My!

  1. I’m guessing the set will still be decently popular because of the pure casual appeal of dragons (and hopefully a decent limited format, although that’s hard to say with less with less than a third of the set spoiled)… but I agree, this is looking like a real dragon’s maze (oh, the irony) of mythics in terms of power level. Whatever proves playable will like float to the top and soak up all that missing value.
    At least the Dragon’s Maze mythics still largely felt like mythic cards, as opposed the quaint little raptor and odd zombie lord. Don’t get me wrong, I still think the time-travel concept is cool and I’m looking forward to release, but damn… there are going to be very disappointed faces when those packs are opened at the draft table.

  2. Nothing for Abzan has been spoiled so far so it looks like I don’t have to get any new cards. Makes me happy that I can keep playing and just trade away all that I open.

  3. Looks like we’re largely on the same page as far as Planeswalkers, though I have slightly more hope for Sarkhan.

    We do disagree on Deathmist Raptor, though. I could see it being clutch in a deck with Den Protector and one or two other morphs. Even Whisperwood Elemental would be sweet in such a deck.

    1. I guess there could be a world where Rattleclaw Mystic + friends work alongside the raptor, I just don’t think it’s a better place to be than Siegerhinoville.

        1. They certainly can, but are Den Protector and Raptor better than Fleecemane Lion, Deathdealer, + Courser of Kruphix? I just am not seeing a world where the Raptor sees more than fringe play and even then not a lot to justify holding a good $$$ value.

  4. All of those cards seem super sweeet to rebound! In what format is rebounding “draw 3” bad? Rebounding a spell is like drawing a copy of a card you already have and getting to cast it for free. Probably somewhere in the realm of the same power as drawing 2 cards. Having +1 draw half a card and starting with 6 loyalty is probably better than Jace AoTs +1 in every scenario except against Lingering Souls. I’d much rather have Narset’s +1 ability and starting loyalty against hero’s downfalls and stoke the flames! While I aggree she is not the next mind sculptor, I think she is certainly better than Architect of Thought!

    1. The main problem is that you have to play Narset AND the spell you want to rebound.
      Turn four – Narset
      Turn five – cast Treasure Cruise (do you have three cards in yard to Delve?)
      Turn six – Rebound Treasure Cruise and hopefully cast a board wipe to regain parity.

      Notice what you did on turns four and five there? Nothing to advance the board so then you’re spending turn six casting End Hostilities or Crux of Fate just to regain parity, and then you won’t have mana to use all that countermagic you just drew.

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