It's time once again to take a look at the cards from the new set and evaluate how close the pre-order prices are to fair. Origins is an awesome set, and it seems like every time I look the set over I notice a new card worth exploring. There are quite a few cards with medium-heavy pre-order prices, so let's dive right into things.
SCG has these guys listed at $8, which is surely too high. TCGPLayer has them listed closer to $4. As a five-mana legendary artifact with no immediate impact on the game, this card already doesn't cut the mustard in Modern, Legacy or Vintage. At that, Standard playability is speculative here. If we give it the benefit of the doubt though, a Standard deck would only need one or two copies, and an EDH deck will only need one copy.
This card is probably worth a couple bucks long-term for casual appeal, but it's going to go down really fast upon set release. The time to buy here is likely after it rotates out of Standard.
I would have been pretty excited with a Rampant Growth reprint in this set to pair with the new Nissa. Alas, we get this. Some people seem pretty excited about this card, but don't believe the hype. It's not unfathomable that you can spend three mana on this card and just do nothing, and once we're paying four mana, why would we not just want Explosive Vegetation? I'm not the guy to tell you how much casual appeal a card like this has, but out of the gates I can guarantee it's less than $3 worth.
Archangel of Tithes
Now we're talking. $15 is steep for a Magic card, but this card would fit the bill in either an aggressive or midrange white deck. Kytheon and Archangel are pretty likely to be players in a real Standard deck, and the fact that Archangel is non-legendary and scales well leads me to believe the card will be a four-of. In particular, if we want to abuse Nykthos and Mastery of the Unseen.
That all said, I can't imagine this card realistically going above $30, barring multiple Top 8s or a win at PT Origins. There's a chance that you can double up on this card, but I think it's a long shot. I wouldn't feel bad investing in a set at $15 if I was planning on playing it anytime in the next several months though.
This card has serious downside, and Languish is a new maindeckable problem for Mono-Red. There's a high risk to casting Avaricious Dragon unless you're already out of gas, and only having four toughness isn't a desirable spot. Expect this card to be bulk before long.
Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh
I've laid claim to Chandra being the worst of the new flip walkers. Perhaps the comparison to Goblin Rabblemaster and the fact that Hordeling Outburst plays way better than Chandra with Stoke the Flames are contextual unfair standards, but those comparisons are relevant in the world we live in. The aforementioned Languish also just makes three drops less desirable in red decks.
Chandra has some very serious barriers to constructed success. She's not terrible, but terrible is how I would feel spending $10 on her.
I'm not seeing this card for Standard, but the potential for Modern playability is real. I'm still cautious here though, because there's a real risk when looking at a card like this for Modern. If it's only okay, then this card shouldn't be worth any more, and if it's very good it's entirely possible that this card is broken and ban-worthy.
Affinity has been posited as the most likely Modern deck to pick this one up, which I find believable. Beyond that though, it seems like there are a lot of situations where the card is medium or even disadvantageous to the caster in decks that aren't great at dumping their hands.
Either way, I don't like buying in at $15 here. Once again, buy it if you're going to play it. Expect it to go down short-term, or if it goes up by much, move off them quickly because this will likely be associated with circumstances leading to its ban.
There are a couple ways to bounce this card, and people are excited about the interaction with Dromoka's Command. I'm skeptical though, because these interactions are there so you don't just outright lose the game.
In the meantime, the value granted off of Demonic Pact is slow, if powerful. The sum of the parts resemble of a mini-Cruel Ultimatum, but none of the effects happen immediately and the others happen over the course of three turns. This card is worth exploring, but is it really better than just playing Siege Rhino on turn four?
This card immediately reminds me of Abyssal Persecutor. The key difference is that cards that remove Abyssal Persecutor from play are generally very much worth having in your maindeck in abundance. Cards that remove Demonic Pact from play are scarce, and decline in value very quickly after Dromoka's Command.
As a regular rare, $5 is a pretty steep buy-in, and the card goes in one or two decks if it's even good.
Disciple of the Ring
This card is really cool. That said, it only goes in decks that want a bunch of Dig Through Time, and this card pretty obviously compares poorly against Dig while trying to use the same resource. I'm going to make a point to remember this card when Dig rotates, but for now I'm going to stay away.
This card is very good. A four-mana 5/5 in black is already nothing to scoff at, and on top of that it has two abilities with some real potential. There aren't a lot of ways to recur Erebos's Titan by your own volition, but the interaction with the flip-side of Liliana is worth exploring. I'm pretty sad that there was a reprint of Crypt Creeper in recent memory that isn't Standard legal, otherwise that would be a sweet deck.
Black Devotion, heavy black aggro, and even heavy black control decks want this card. You won't be able to have it survive Crux of Fate on non-dragons, but it notably survives Languish. I could see this card hitting $20-$30 in the near future, and I'd target it aggressively leading up to PT Origins and reevaluate once those results are in.
I haven't figure this card out yet. I don't know if it's a great engine, or just too random and slow. Either way, the price tag is already high here. I'd be surprised if the ceiling was above $10, and I'd also be surprised if the price trajectory was even positive. I might be missing something here, but this one feels like a trap.
Kytheon, Hero of Akros
Kytheon is obviously good. What we have to evaluate is how reasonable spending $25 on this card is. If you're really into white aggressive decks and/or think it cuts the mustard in white midrange decks, then you probably won't be able to get Kytheons for much under $15 in the immediate future. Even with Kytheon, I'm having a hard time believing that there's enough incentive to play white-weenie over mono-red aggro. Red just has so much great reach and creatures that aren't notably worse than other color's creatures on the low end of the curve.
Kytheon is a terrible position as an investment in my opinion, but I wouldn't fault anybody for picking up a set with the intention of playing them.
I feel like people are being blinded by the price history of Goblin Rabblemaster when they preorder Piledriver. This isn't even necessarily the best two-drop in red decks right now, and a $15 pre-order on a card being reprinted at regular rare is obscene.
Piledriver will see Standard play. It might see Modern play. Even still, a bunch are about to enter the market, and the idea of it maintaining its current price point even in the short term is crazy.
This card has awesome applications in multiple formats, but it's not exactly the kind of card that you maindeck four of. I could definitely see UWx control decks in Standard playing some of these, but $5 is a lot to ask for a fringe regular rare. I'd wait on this both to see short-term price drops and even to see how many you would want to play, if any.
Harbinger of the Tides
Cut and dry, this card is great. There will be decks playing this at the Pro Tour, and they won't necessarily just be Blue Devotion decks. The interaction with both Ojutai's Command and Collected Company is great.
I wouldn't be bothered paying $4 a piece to get up to a set, and I would be very happy picking these up in trades. It's not great against every deck, but a flash body and an amazing ability in racing situations is a lot of upside.
Jace, Telepath Unbound
My initial thoughts on Jace were that it plays great with Commune with the Gods and Treasure Cruise. After trying to make it work a couple different ways, Jeskai Ascendancy Combo was the most appropriate shell that I could come up with.
After my initial excitement, I've come down a long way on Jace. In particular, the return of Goblin Piledriver leads me to believe that more Wild Slashes and Bile Blights will be showing up immediately in Standard, and playing Jace on two and having it die or just playing it after turn two aren't terribly exciting scenarios.
I liked Jace initially; I still think there's potential here, but mostly I know that $20 is too much to pay out of the gates.
Languish will see play in Abzan and blue control decks alike. $7-8 is a fine price to pay to pick up your set, but I don't think there's much room to grow here. If it happens that Languish makes the idea of playing an aggressive deck embarrassing, then I could see a $10-12 price tag happening, but I don't believe that will happen, and I don't see Languish as a good card to invest money in. It's a great pickup if you're able to trade a couple cheaper cards for a Languish though.
Liliana, Defiant Necromancer
Liliana is great, and I've already seen a number of lists posted with 3-4 copies of here. I'd expect her to hold most of her $20 pre-order price tag for some time, and could even see her hitting $30-35 during her time in Standard. Buy her as soon as you want to play her, and if she drops in price consider speculation on a few copies. If they print any cheap creatures that sacrifice themselves or other creatures while she's in Standard then expect there to be a deck there.
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Nissa is definitely great. I'm not sure where the price of a Borderland Ranger with upside and downside will settle, but Nissa looks like a $10-15 card to me. She will see play, and will be good--probably in multiple decks. This is another one to buy as many as you want to play as soon as you want to play them with little upside in investing.
I've seen buzz about this card in Modern, and I'm not going to pretend like I don't want to cast two Cruel Ultimatums. I just can't believe that this is what we're supposed to be doing. Kolaghan's Command is hot in Modern, and the Goggles make much less sense with the spells in Standard. And no matter if it's determined to be playable or not, you'll only want one to two in any deck.
I don't like buying any copies of the Goggles for more than a buck or two, though I am intrigued by foils. They're already too rich to immediately invest in at $15 though.
Starfield of Nyx
I don't know if this card is great or terrible, but at $5 with an effect that is casual gold I don't think you can miss by much. If this card is deemed not good enough for Standard play, then expect it fall to the $1-3 range, but from there the card has so much long-term potential.
If Constellation is a thing, then this card will easily at least double in price, if not triple. I'd snipe any copies of these that local players aren't too attached to.
Sword of the Animist
This card being Standard-playable isn't completely out of the question, but it's not exactly on my short list. The card is very reminiscent of Journeyer's Kite, so foils could be worth a few bucks long-term, but otherwise there's nothing to see here.
This might be a real card. If you consider a 6/5 to be worth six mana, then this card gives you nine mana of value. Realistically, it's closer to eight mana of value. Notably, the non-legendary clause means you can't find Nissa or Anafenza, but finding Deathmist Raptor is some strong.
I'm not sure why this couldn't be a cast trigger instead of a comes into play trigger, and if it were a cast trigger I'd be huge on this card. As is, I think it's more of a watch than a buy, but if there's a deck that wants this it wants four, and if that deck is real then this will easily double in price.
While Origins appears to be a very strong set, most of the cards seem pretty appropriate priced. The two cards with the most immediate potential to spike that I see are Erebos's Titan and Woodland Bellower. If Abbot of Keral Keep was only a buck I'd mention it as a good pickup, but there's not a ton of upside on picking them up for $2.50.
Thanks for reading.
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