Insider: Theros – Land of Hidden Value

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Everybody is sick of Theros. It was fun for a while and introduced some cool cards and mechanics but nowadays all anybody cares about is Modern Masters, Magic Origins, and making a return trek to Zendikar in the fall. What have you done for me lately, right?

The summer lull is just around the bend and anybody who is anybody knows that Standard cards are going to take a dip in price as interest wanes and players try to "get out" of their rotating cards in preparation for the launch of a new block. While it may not be exciting to pick up the dregs that everybody else is looking to dump, for us savvy hawks of opportunity this is where we make investments that will pay off later down the road.

I have always advocated a long-term approach to MTG investing based on concrete principles of buying into cards with nowhere to go but up down the road. Buying into cards that are about to rotate is among the most surefire ways to find deals on singles when they absolutely bottom out, thus creating opportunity for future growth.

We are at the edge where Theros block singles have either already bottomed out or are nearing their low price points and so it is the perfect time to get our chips in on these unloved, unwanted singles.

For the purposes of today's article I'm going to break what I would consider to be the "desirable" Theros singles down into three general categories: Legacy/Modern Gems, Commander Gems, and Kitchen Table mainstays. I'll give you the scoop on which cards to seek out and why I think these cards will likely rebound in value in the long term.

Legacy & Modern Staples

Theros has brought us several cards that are going to see play in Modern and Legacy tournaments for years down the line. Old format staples don't pick up "premium" value while they are still in Standard because there are so many copies floating around in the hands of Standard players that they are too easily accessible.

However, a year or two down the road after all of these cards have found their way out of the hands of players, these cards tend to pick up steam and become more expensive.

Thoughtseize is easily the "best" card in Theros block from a playability perspective. It goes into a million different decks in every format it's legal in.

I typically don't advocate buying into cards that are already in the $15-$20 range because its hard for cards that are already expensive to make tremendous gains. People are only really willing to pay so much for cards and it takes a lot to justify paying $30+ for a single card for a deck.

Thoughtseize is the kind of card that is so good and widely played that players are basically forced to pay whatever the cost in order to acquire it. The decks (and there are a ton of them) that play Thoughtseize really have no other choice because the card is versatile and part of what makes the deck work.

Reprints are always an issue when speculating and if the price ever gets too high it will see another reprinting. Yet, I still have no problem trading for and picking up as many copies of the card as possible. It is among the most expensive cards in the block, even though it isn't even a mythic and is a reprint. That is how good this card is.

Especially if foolish Standard players are looking to get out of their Thoughtseizes and the price dips, Thoughtseize is always money. There is no doubt in my mind that the price will be higher at some point down the line than it is now.

Aside from Thoughtseize, Mana Confluence is the best "original card" in Theros block. It is a better version of a card that was already an insanely powerful and iconic card.

I've already played Mana Confluence in multiple Vintage and Legacy decks: Steel City Vault, Tendrils, Burning Oath, Jeskai Ascendancy, and Affinity in Vintage, Legacy and Modern and it is an auto include in every five-color Commander deck--It's the best land in my five-color Sliver Overlord deck for sure!

Every block has a few cards that are just amazing Magic cards and Mana Confluence is for Theros block the objective best original card. It hasn't dipped yet, but when it does I'm going to be looking to acquire as many copies as I can.

As long as Brainstorm is a thing in Legacy, Spirit of the Labyrinth will be a solid option for white decks.

Two mana for three power and a very hateful ability is nothing to scoff at. By Constructed standards, in any format where people try to draw cards early and often the Spirit is going to have a home. Since drawing cards is basically the best thing in the game I predict that this card will be good for a long, long time.

In Legacy, Death and Taxes is a staple deck and Spirit of the Labyrinth is a very serious option for that deck--I can see this little critter steadily gaining in the coming year.

There are also a bunch of nifty combos that make other cards even better. Mikokoro, Center of the Sea and Vendilion Clique are both options that come to mind.

Also, I love the way that in decks with Aether Vial the ability to drop Spirit of the Labyrinth into play uncounterable and at instant speed in response to a Brainstorm or Jace, the Mind Sculptor activation has the potential to simply end the game on the spot!

Swan Song is easily the most undervalued and underrated card in Theros block from a Constructed perspective. I've played the card in at least seven different archetypes in Vintage, Legacy, and Modern and it does what it does better than any other card in Magic.

For one mana you can stop any counterspell, any hate enchantment, or any Thoughtseize. Few cards have that kind of flexibility. Since it is almost always going to be in a deck trying to win all at once, the drawback of giving your opponent a bird is negligible.

It reminds me a lot of Pact of Negation (which is a $15 card, by the way) in that the drawback doesn't matter because the point is to play it and then win immediately. Obviously, costing zero instead of one is a big deal against counterspells, but the ability for combo decks to counter something like Eidolon of the Great Revel or Mystic Remora is very, very real.

Also, I sort of intuitively feel like it is a weird card which makes it less likely to see a reprinting. We all know the true long-term winners are simply cards that never get reprinted.

Kitchen Finks, Voice of Resurgence and Affinity are all reasons why Anger of the Gods is a card that will likely forever have a home in Modern. It is unique in the sense that it exiles the things that it kills, which has become increasingly important in Modern.

It is a Modern staple in abundance. When the card becomes a little more difficult to acquire now that people are no longer cracking packs of Theros it seems obvious that it will see a surge. The fact that it has consistently maintained some value is a testament to how good the card actually is.

It probably won't get much cheaper since people already know it is a great card. Take this opportunity to stock up for sure.

God Commanders

One of the most unique apsects of Theros was the printing of the legendary indestructible god cards. They are creatures, which means they can technically be your Commander in EDH but they are basically immune to all of the things that traditionally kill creatures.

They are unique and quite good, which is always the the hallmark of a card that will gain value down the road. They are also tailor-made to be commanders and EDH staples.

Unique cards are always the ones with the most staying power in the imaginations of players and deckbuilders, and these cards are absolutely unique in every way possible. I'm not going to say that people exclusively build decks from a flavor perspective or anything, but how cool is it to have your personal commander as a literal god?

I think that it also goes without saying that since these are commander cards that the foil versions will also command a nice premium. I really like picking up foils of these cards (and generally speaking any Commander staple) as a long-term investment.

Tiny Leaders God & Generals

Same genearl sentiment about why cards are good in Commander goes for Tiny Leaders (the Commander format where you can only use cards with C.M.C. of three or less.)

Foils are a great pick up, especially at rock bottom prices as players are simply looking to dump cards. There have already been a bunch of older cards that have seen spikes (especially foils) because of Tiny Leaders, and these cards are simply too new to have peaked yet--but they will eventually.

The upside is big and the downside is basically non-existent here.

Commander Singles

People don't even understand how incredibly insane this card and Seedborn Muse are in Commander. Aside from cards that say "take another turn," there is no stronger effect. These cards that let you untap your stuff during everybody else's turn are actually just broken.

I know that Prophet saw a reprinting in a deck. I don't actually care. The card is so good that I almost can't imagine playing any blue-green deck that doesn't also include this card.

I know for a fact that Prophet of Kruphix is the best card in my budget Slivers Commander deck. In fact, he is so good that I added multiple tutors simply to find the card! Not only does he make massive amounts of mana, but he has a secondary ability to give all creatures flash and we all know how insane instant speed flexibility is in multiplayer!

I'm even in a picking up the foil cards. Simply put, Prophet is one of the better cards in Theros block for Commander play.

I wouldn't even play a Commander deck without a copy of this powerful black mythic rare. Mindslaver is the best threat in Commander and Worst Fears is just another Mindslaver in any deck that is allowed to field black spells.

I know I said "take an extra turn" is the best thing in Commander, but actually "take control of somebody else's turn" is even better. There is no doubt in my mind that as this card becomes increasingly difficult to find in the next year or so it will gain considerable value.

Personally, I pull this card out of every single trade binder I look through and always get every copy. My goal is to just keep hoarding them up until they mature in price.

Here is another clear example of a fantastic Commander card. We already know that Grave Pact is a quality staple card and in many ways Dictate of Erebos is even better.

We've already established that in multiplayer the flash mechanic is fantastic but the true awesomeness of this card is that it is Grave Pact that doesn't cost triple black, which means that it can be much more easily splashed into two- and three-color decks.

The fact that you can snap it down in response to an opponent's kill spell is also quite spicy!

Kitchen Table Staples

Whip of Erebos has been a card that dominated on and off while it was in Standard and simply put it is a super impactful Magic card. When the Whip hits the table there is no doubt that it is an important tactical point in the game!

I think this card is going to hold a lot of casual clout in the years to come. Rewind back in time and remember when Whip of Erebos and Gray Merchant of Alphabet were dominating standard.

Various versions of Mono-Black have always been a casual favorite of the year and whether the kitchen table commandos are pairing their Whip of Erebos with Order of the Ebon Hand or Ravenous Rats, everybody is going to include the Whip of Erebos.

Here is a pro tip: I have built, tuned, and sold roughly 50 Mono-Black kitchen table decks from the local game store and every single one includes Necropotence and Whip of Erebos. It is simply a card that there is a ton of demand for so look for it to gain momentum quickly after the summer lull subsides.

How can one argue with Angel of Despair on steroids? I kind of feel like this card is primed for a Commander deck reprinting at some point down the line. Nonetheless, it is cheap and super powerful.

It also sees play on and off in Sneak and Show decks as a sideboard card for dealing with hateful permanents and getting around Karakas. It is one of those cards that is really powerful and really flashy and people seem to latch onto those kinds of cards and want to play with them in casual Magic.

At the current price point I can't really see any way that things can go bad picking up this card. It is bound to rise in value and even if it sees a reprinting it won't settle any lower than it is right now.

I really like foils of this card as a long-term acquistion. Even if it gets a Commander reprint it will still be difficult to find foils.

Hydra Broodmaster is a card that I'm going to give you the "gamestore downlow" on. I can't keep them in stock, no matter how hard I try.

I've actually bought them for face value online and sold them at a double mark-up in the store because there is such a high demand for them. Any time there is a card that people are happy to pay double the retail price to get for their decks it is typically a very good sign that the card is worth its weight in gold.

I know it had a deck printing, which simply doesn't matter because the demand is so high with casual players. Just look at the card: it is huge and has a huge ability. Remember the days of being impressed by a Craw Wurm? Well, just imagine seeing the stats on this monster!

It is really appealing to casual players because it is such a cool card and I anticipate that any time kitchen players do a Gatherer search and find this card they will be looking to pick them up. Over time, this fact equates to stores having to raise their buylist price on the card in order to satisfy demand.

Pick them up and hold onto them to wait for the tide to rise.

The Non-Entrenched Perspective

It's kind of funny to think about Theros block because as a savvy player most of the cards seem kind of unexciting from a pro player perspective. I don't feel like "lifer" players are going to think back on the block with any kind of particular fondness--rather the sets are kind of dull and boring.

However, everything in perspective. You and I lived through the block for two years. Two years from now when new players are discovering the cards for the first time their perspective will be very different.

Gods!? Whip!? Giant Hydra Mommy!?

Just because cards don't fit into a specific mold for Constructed doesn't mean they are not exciting cards for players to discover and play with in their decks.

Theros is a very flavorful block and has a lot of really unique mechanics. All sets have lots of cards that pick up steam and gain value down the line. I think that players' stigma for Theros is going to lead to a lower rock bottom and a bigger upside in the future. Get in now while the getting is good.

11 thoughts on “Insider: Theros – Land of Hidden Value

  1. Excellent article! I was hoping you could give some advice on how you decide when to buy foils or nonfoils of these kinds of specs? Foils for the gods seems like a great idea, but the multiplier is already so high! On what basis do you figure out whether a foil is a better spec than the non-spec?

  2. Brian, what do you think about Athreos as a Commander/TL card? It was super hyped upon release but didn’t go anywhere. It has maintained a ~$10 price tag for a while without really seeing play. Think it’s going to drop hard or where is the demand coming from? Casual/EDH?

    Thanks as always.

    1. I know it was aimed at Brian…but I’ll at least throw out my two cents..Athreos is an AMAZING card in EDH (and TL). His current price tag is entirely tied to this and not his “standard” playability. The fact that he came from Journey (which due to draft/prize structure) means there are fewer of him out there than Theros mythics and that implies that any spikes in demand will cause a much larger spike in price than to a similar mythic from Theros.

    2. I have an Athreos TL deck and he is a house. He works great in an agro shell where either decision for your opponent is a bad one. I suspect he may drop a little, but his edh/tl appeal will prevent a massive drop in my opinion.

  3. Great article with good information. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of new sets, so these types of articles are the reason my QS sub will continue. Keep up the great work.

  4. Do we think mana confluence will actually come down much more. I’ve looked at a couple graphs and it has appeared to have stabilized. Thoughts?

  5. I think Mana Confluence’s high price is mostly from Standard. It’s VERY popular right now. Once it rotates out of Standard, I don’t think there will be enough demand to support its current price. Modern has such a good manabase that no 3-color decks would want to run it. And even if a few 4-5 color decks and/or Legacy decks want it, there’s a easily accessible, $2.5 and almost identical replacement in City of Brass. So the real question isn’t how many players need a five color pain land, it’s how many players need a five color pain land, and would pay an extra $7 to get a marginal upgrade on it.

  6. Very good article, Broodmaster flew completely under my radar. It wasn’t really mentioned in the article, but I think Eidolon of the Great Revel is also a good target, though I doubt it will drop much upon rotation (as opposed to other eternal-playable cards like Thoughtseize and Mana Confluence).

    Thanks for the insight, people (myself included) tend to pay way more attention to flashy upcoming sets than sets rotating out.

  7. Nice read. I hope your correct about Spirit of the Labyrinth. I had come to a similar conclusion and have picked up 60 of them to hold for a while. Thanks for insight/perspective.

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