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Insider: Investing in Magic Origins – Part 3 (Rares)

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Welcome back for the final installment of the Magic Origins set review, where I'll cover the rares. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, be sure to check those out first.

Here's a reminder of the categories I'll use:

  • Top Tier is reserved for the cards that will most likely hold the majority of the value in the set. Or most commonly known as the “chase cards.”
  • Middle Tier is reserved for the cards that aren’t necessarily bad but may be overshadowed at this current point. These could easily jump to top tier in the future, or vise versa.
  • Low Tier is reserved for the cards that will most likely be near bulk. Like Middle Tier these cards could easily jump up to higher tiers but the road traveled will most likely be harder. Again, I don’t think these cards are necessarily bad but my analysis is that these will be the cheapest cards in the set.

Top Tier Rares

Evolutionary Leap


This card quickly climbed to top tier and I would be hard pressed to not have it in this tier. I would surely not disrespect a card as even a “fair” version of the powerhouse Survival of the Fittest.

Once I had the entire spoiler in front of me, this was an easy evaluation and I would give my seal of approval to invest in this card. While pre-order pricing has fluctuated and put this card around the 5$ range, it might be misevaluated. There is certainly hype behind this card, and many eagerly await what this card is capable of.

When it comes to Evolutionary Leap, I’m okay with the “better safe than sorry” approach. The only thing I could compare this to is an engine card like Collected Company, which in hindsight was grossly underpriced at one point. For those of you out there (some on the Insider forums) that were able to snag this at the initial 1.99$ pre-order, bravo. This is one of those cards that could have a rollercoaster-like stock, but sooner or later this will be all over article and video coverage.

Pre order Price - $5

Abbot of Keral Keep

Seems like this one might have been grossly underpriced when it first opened at 1.49$ pre-orders on StarCityGames. I don’t know how good this rare will be, but when evaluating the other rares in the entire set I think is among the best.

Certainly could be better than 1.49$, that’s for sure. An efficient creature with a competitive casting cost, and pseudo-card advantage in red? What’s not to like? When I hear “Modern” and this card in the same sentence one can certainly be optimistic.

The potential card advantage might not be noticed right away, and I don’t think it’s there right on the surface--but it is a good card and I think worthy of being in this tier simply because there really isn’t much better in the set.

There will probably be many people who compare this to Ire Shaman, which seems reasonable, but I don’t think the comparison goes further than a similar ability. Abbot costs less for a more desired evergreen keyword in prowess. I don’t think Ire Shaman would ever see the light of day in Modern; with a significantly less up-front cost I think Abbot may be a tad bit undervalued.

Pre order Price: $2.99

Languish

Languish is just all around good value for a sweeper at four mana. Black just got a whole lot scarier in Standard. I don’t think this will have many other applications outside of Standard (or casual) for it to be a sound investment though. It’s still in the top tier as of now, but I don’t think it will last long-term.

Board wipe spells don’t usually command a premium, and I doubt this will either. Akin to Supreme Verdict, Languish also will have a second promo printing. Not nearly the same amount of supply as a buy-a-box promo, but I think enough to keep the price similar to a Crux of Fate type price tag.

Goblin Piledriver

Piledriver becoming Modern legal was a big deal. There has been plenty of hype and residual stock movement across many Goblin staples like Goblin Chieftain and Auntie's Hovel.

I wrote a free side article about this card, and fully well know the power of this card from even way back during Onslaught Standard. I think the hype might be pushing Onslaught copies a bit higher than expected, and don’t think it will sustain. It’s not really comparable to Thoughtseize, which is a fair bit more ubiquitous and had new card art.

While powerful, and likely to remain a sought-after card in the set, I do think Piledriver's price will drop. Unless it’s an absolute dominant force in Modern, which remains to be seen. I think the investment strategy here is “wait and see,” and I see no reason to pay 10$ extra on the ONS version (unless old borders are your thing?).

Pre order Price: $13

Mid Tier Rares

Herald of the Pantheon

Where was this during Theros block? I think it’s a great card, don’t get me wrong, but wow did this need to be in Theros block. Well, Summer Magic will be interesting, and I think this card could make some fun things happen for a while.

As a financial target, I think there will be some time where this could get hyped initially, and then fall off the radar during the Summer lull. Much like Starfield of Nyx (which plays well with Herald), I think this card’s future is vested in what is revealed to us in October. As it is, if it’s something that one wants to enjoy for the rest of Theros block and Summer Magic, I think it’s cheap enough at this point to grab them.

I don’t see these going under 1$, if they did it would be a great purchase either way. I think it deserves to be in the middle tier as such, and certainly good enough not to be a bulk rare.

Pre order price: $2.70

Graveblade Marauder

I will try and be as unbiased on this card as I can. I am investing in this card, as I highlight later in the article, but this just seems better than a 1$ rare. I understand for the past sets these warrior cards largely go unnoticed and don’t command a premium price. The difference here is that I don’t think this is specifically pigeonholed to just a warrior-based strategy.

On paper, this really is an efficient creature, which gets better as the game goes on. Deathtouch makes it rough to deal with in combat, so it could even be viable on a board filled with Siege Rhino and Dragonlord Ojutai. It has a small color commitment, and is really just a good bang for your buck.

Which is why I think it probably should be more than a buck! Either way, while this card could end up being near-bulk, I still think it deserves to be in Middle Tier at this point. It’s a multi-role card that isn’t committed to just one strategy. At the same time, it does compete with a lot of good three-mana creatures currently in certain strategies, namely Deathmist Raptor or Courser of Kruphix.

I’m fine with this under 1$ pre-orders, but fully well know the risk involved with this card's stock.

Pre order Price: $.99

Harbinger of the Tides

I’ve talked about this via podcast, and I think it deserves to be in this tier. While Tidebinder Mage isn’t really commanding a premium these days, I think this could maintain a “middle of the road” price. It’s still better in more situations than Tidebinder, and could lead to serious blowouts in Modern by returning that freshly delved Tasigur, the Golden Fang or stopping a Splinter Twin.

I don’t expect this to maintain current pre-order prices, but it’s certainly better than a low-end near-bulk rare. Financially, I just think there are better cards worth investing it, especially with its current pre-order pricing.

Pre order Price: $4.50

Gilt-Leaf Winnower

The more I looked at this card the more I liked it. I think it could maintain some semblance of above-bulk, but wouldn’t be surprised if it fell from this tier and didn’t command a significant price tag. Mostly it’s in this tier to err on the side of caution of labeling it a “bulk rare.”

From a card design standpoint I think it’s more useful than some of the other cards I placed in the Low Tier bracket, which is why I placed this accordingly. Could be a potential curve-topper in an elf deck should it be viable--if not it seems like a great one- or two-of in a midrange style decklist. Takes care of a lot of things in the format, but doesn’t take care of everything.

I like the “wait and see” approach here, from a financial perspective.

Pre order Price: $1.75

Infinite Obliteration

I understand there’s some hype behind this card, and pre-order prices have fluctuated quite a bit since it first opened. Historically spells with this type of effect have not seen competitive play since Cranial Extraction back in Kamigawa Standard. Maybe for the first time it would be worth playing, with it costing one less mana than spells have costed in the past, but I’m not seeing it.

As it is, the best case would be a sideboard role-player in Standard or Modern and it could command a few dollars from that alone. I think it’s better than being thrown into Low Tier with some of the garbage that’s in there. I wouldn’t personally invest in this card just because Magic history is not on the side of this card, so for now I won’t either. Still deserves to be in this tier though.

Pre order Price: $2.99

Animist's Awakening

I don’t know where this fits in right now, but I know it’s going to at some point. With Battle for Zendikar right around the corner, there remains some optimism for this card going forward. I don’t know if this spell will ultimately command a premium price even if all the circumstances pan out, but it’s certainly worthy of being in this Tier, and the dialogue could change very quickly on such a potentially powerful spell.

I don’t think this is a card worth investing during pre-orders, but I would monitor this card closely as we near a block just teeming to bring us landfall into the fold again. Success will also be piggybacked on if we’re presented some large ridiculous Eldrazi monster worth ramping into.

Pre order Price: $4.00

Hallowed Moonlight

This card has been talked about all over social media, and also on the QS Insider forums alongside many other cards. This card’s pre-order price has fluctuated a great deal. Ultimately I don’t know where this will end up; I really can’t say much about this card other than that it’s a role-player and can hose certain strategies while replacing itself.

If the effect is greatly desired in any format, then perhaps this will command a premium price. I really like foil versions of this card, but I think there will be a better time to grab them once supply starts entering the market. I know in particular Sam Black was not very high on this card, but time will certainly tell. Maybe if Collected Company becomes an extreme dominate force in Modern, this will start showing up in multiple decklists.

Pre order Price: $3.99

Hangarback Walker

I've seen some buzz about this card as a potential inclusion in Affinity. As someone who plays Affinity in Modern, I'm just not seeing it.

Now, this doesn't mean Hangarback is a bad card, because it's not. I do think it actually could see play somewhere should some build of a "thopter" deck become viable in Standard. I think Standard would be this card's only application, and I really couldn't see Affinity paying 2 for a 1/1 that could "maybe" get some extra counters and produce a new army of flying thopters. That sounds like way too much work for a deck trying to win by turn 4-5 at the latest.

I put it in this tier for now, on the stipulation of this card becoming worthwhile in Standard. If it's not played in Standard, and not included in Affinity (again unlikely) I don't think the card has upside in the future. Again, for now, it can remain here.

Pre order Price: $1.50

Low Tier Rares

Instead of going through each of these rares and discussing why they’re going to end up as bulk rares, I’d rather do the opposite and talk about a few cards with potential.

Despoiler of Souls

I don’t think this is completely horrible, but the stipulations for its recursion are fairly steep. While this could bump in price due to extreme hype with Mono-B Devotion, there would have to be a strong case for this to be a dominant force in Standard or any other format. If there’s some sort of black-based aggro list, I could see this being a part of that.

I’m personally staying away, but of the low tier rares this has a shot. Maybe there’s a strong argument out there I’m just not analyzing correctly, but sitting down and reviewing this card leads me to put it in this tier but with potential upside.

Sword of the Animist

I don’t really understand the hype around this card, or why its pre-order price is absurd. I’m highlighting this card because I do think it could hold some value going forward, and maybe somewhere down the line foils could be a great pickup for EDH/Casual purposes.

As it is though, Equipment needs to be extremely good to warrant any sort of play in constructed formats. When cards like Sword of Fire and Ice and Sword of Feast and Famine aren’t being included on a regular basis, I don’t think this has any outside shot. Other than strictly Standard (even then, a strong maybe) and casual formats, I’m not seeing this hold it’s current price tag.

Again, this could be a different discussion down the line, and could be lucrative as foils, but I don’t think this will even be a prime target for a Relic Seeker in Standard. I wouldn’t purchase this now, but I do think it deserves highlighting and for us financiers to revisit sometime in the future.

Dark Petition

This is either going to be extremely good, or extremely bad. For now, I want to leave this in the low tier of the rares in this set. Perhaps it could spark a combo-based decklist and will be included as such, but as a financier I don’t like buying this right now.

I don’t know if it’s viable in casual formats--there might be just better cards to play. I leave this to more skilled deckbuilders than I, to somehow figure out if this is the combo piece that is finally needed in various formats. Best case scenario in Standard is using this to find a Liliana, Heretical Healer, but I think if players are turning to tutor spells I like Sidisi, Undead Vizier much better.

~

Well, that about does it for my full analysis of Magic Origins, and dissecting its financial value. I really hope that parts 1,2, and 3 will help you all going forward and keep this list and specific cards in mind going forward. It’s always fun taking on a new set, but sometimes it’s tough to evaluate something without really seeing any of the cards in action. Which is why I elected to write about sets this way starting with Magic Origins, and going forward.

Also, for the sake of transparency here is my full pre-order activity for Magic Origins:

So, there you have it all in the open and I won't blatantly hype any of the cards that I have chosen to invest in. I will let the chips fall as they may, and will not impose anything to create unnecessary hype.

I’m curious to see and read what everyone else has decided to purchase for this pre-order period. Admittedly I haven’t been short-selling that long--it’s really a different experience for me and until I feel I’m better at it I will refrain from writing anything on the subject. Until that time, I am relying on card evaluation and experience in the game alone, coupled with what I feel are underpriced cards.

In the instance of Thopter Spy Network I just felt it was worth more than $0.49 and should probably be priced higher than Alhammarret, High Arbiter when I was ordering these. Other than that, I don’t have a really good defense for the card. Sorry! Consider this my very farfetched “rags to riches” type investments, knowing full well that it probably won’t pan out. Again, I just felt that was just a tad bit better than actual bulk.

That’s all for Magic Origins! Do any of you have your own Thopter Spy Network? Comments? Questions? Concerns? I always try to be available to answer any and all questions and discuss things further.

Until next time!

-Chaz

6 thoughts on “Insider: Investing in Magic Origins – Part 3 (Rares)

  1. chaz, you should also realize abbot is good in all sorts of multicolor red decks – jeskai could really use more cantrip abilities

    i too think gilt leaf winnower is a very underrated 2 for 1 and can also close out the game potentially. sniping siege rhinos is a big deal

    if evo leap becomes a hit, foils will command a premium. word on the street is that it’s not superb in modern yet – it’s good for grindy value based match ups, but the abzan podless shell still lacks against combo / tron decks

    1. Agreed Bobby. Yeah those are some great points on each individual cards. I like Abbot in a deck like Jeskai, and it could even have a spot in Modern at some point.

      Evo Leap just seems like a card that is “better safe than sorry”. I respect the card even as a “fair” Survival.

  2. My problem with preordering and spec’ing on cards nowsaday is that the bottom line is very minimal with rares. I understand you got your CoCo’s but what rare recently has spiked enough to make you a decent profit after fees and the initial cost of the card?

    My recent experiences:

    Mastery of the Unseen: Bought 49 at an average of 37 cents per

    Sold at an average of: Roughly 4 dollars each.

    After fees, postage and racing to the bottom the sell the damn things I made around 3 dollars per card. Or 147 dollars.

    Now while 147 isnt something to scoff at, it took a lot of time and lowering my price on tcg to get rid of all them.

    Second experience:

    gilt-leaf palace: Bought 20 at 2.66 each. Sold them around 8.50 each.

    After fees and initial cost of cards, made around 6 dollars per card so 120. But again these were a pain to get rid of and it was a race to the bottom.

    Also, its really hard to trade cards that just spike because people don’t want them for that price so your only way to getting rid of the cards is ebay or tcg player or maybe a buylist.

    So unless a card spike almost 5x-10x and you know about it right away, I don’t think you’ll make enough money to warrent spec’ing on rares nowadays.

    Mythics on the other hand…..

    What do you think?

    1. Wayne thanks for the reply! It’s a good one…

      I mean it really all comes down to effort and time and what you want out of MTGFinance. You’re right 147$ isn’t anything to scoff at. At the same time, maybe it would be beneficial to really track how much time you spend doing this stuff.

      Did making 147$ take you 8 hours to do? I’m not talking about a span of 8 hours periodically checking TCGPlayer and updating prices. My guess is it probably didn’t. People making minimum wage don’t make that in an entire day. So, just something to think about.

      Time is the most valuable commodity, that’s for sure. There’s varying levels of how much people are invested in this. If it’s a full time job? Part-time? Side-gig? Fueling the hobby? All those questions come into play here. I think I touched on that in my first article here on QS.

      So, in your case maybe don’t chase after the day-to-day hype buying and selling. Perhaps for you it’s better off to invest in the slow steady gainers which have a bit more liquidity. The Tasigur/Voice of Resurgence/Abrupt Decay’s of the mtg market.

      You can’t tell me investing in Snapcasters back in INN and watching the price more recently is a waste of time. Not bad for clicking “purchase” and sitting on them for a little while.

      Again, it’s different for everyone!

      1. All valid points.

        I guess I spent basically around 4 hrs total for both of these (including research, buying, etc etc.) So around 50 dollars an hour isnt too bad.

        Slow gainers are the best investments for long term growth for sure. I mean I knew about snapcaster, but didnt really have the money to put more into them.

        Keep up the good work!

      2. I agree Chaz, It’s not much work list and adjust prices, only takes a couple of keystrokes. I look speculating as a way for me to fund building my own decks. If I can buy several play sets of oh lets say Pearl Lake Ancient for $4.00 a set and in one night sell all of my play sets for $30.00 each then I’m going to do it, and with that money build a deck I want to play with, it doesn’t hurt as much spending $60.00 on a play set of something I NEED when I only actually spent about $8.00 of my own money on it.

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