Insider: Zendikar Expeditions Hype and BFZ

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I’m currently en route home to Detroit from the Modern Grand Prix in Oklahoma City and it is time to put Modern in the rear view mirror and begin looking forward to the upcoming release of Battle for Zendikar. I’ve had a blast playing Modern the past few weeks and put up a solid 63rd place finish at the Grand Prix playing my Hangarback Affinity list.

I was very surprised to see Lantern Control end up taking down the whole event (I actually had the displeasure of getting crushed by Zac Elsik on day one) but the power of the deck is pretty undeniable. All of that being said, I’m ready for a break from Modern and find myself really looking forward to a new set and a drastically different Standard environment.

In today’s article I’ll share my initial thoughts about the set and how I’m approaching it from the financial side.

The "Buried Treasure" Effect

I think the most significant aspect of this set is the inclusion of essentially “super-duper rares” as premium foils. Approximately once per case a person can open a foil, full art, highly desirable non-basic land with a very high retail price. I cannot overstate the impact this lottery ticket element will have on cracking packs--it will significantly push sales of this new set.

I keep my ear to the ground about this kind of stuff and one thing that I’ve been picking up on is the fact that a lot of people have arrived at the same conclusion that buying cases is a good plan for BFZ. The fact that once per case an individual is apt to open one of these super rare lands makes buying cases seem to make more sense.

I’ve seen the good fetchlands pre-selling on eBay in the $300 range which seems really high to me. Two weeks ago when the new lands got spoiled I said that I thought these lands should be worth about $150-200 for fetches, $100 for shocks and $50 for the tango lands (by the way "tango lands" because it takes "two basics to tango").

I still feel pretty confident in my assessment of these cards at least in the short term. I believe there will be a lot of people who open these lands and look to move them in the first three months. As a result, I can see the price going down simply because the number of sellers will be higher than buyers. In the long term, yes these will continue to steadily rise but the true value will be acquiring these cards and holding them for two or three years until they become truly difficult to acquire on the secondary market.

If people assume that the price of these premium cards will command this kind of price tag it makes sense to buy into cases and crack product. The joke is that if it seems like insane value to actually buy into cases, the effect might end up correcting for itself. If everybody is doing the same thing expecting to get paid off there can’t possibly be enough money to go around to actually pay everybody off.

My suggestion is that if more people are going to be opening product at a record pace, it will significantly effect the prices of the other cards in the set. Assuming the former, it stands to reason that the market will end up flooded with more cards than the players actually need to satisfy demand. Prices are always high right out of the gate because people are scurrying to get the cards for their decks together. However, I strongly suspect that after the initial first week hype we will see a steep decline in singles prices as collectors continue to crack packs chasing “golden ticket” full art lands.

My advice is that if you are planning on cracking a few cases of BFZ that you have a method in place to quickly sell rares and mythics before they begin to dip in price. If I were going to buy into BFZ I would likely crack all of my boxes and go to a big FNM somewhere and try to trade off as much of it as I possibly could as quickly as possible.

I also think that preselling this set on eBay or through an online venue makes a lot of sense. You can undersell the preorder prices on SCG and other online dealers but still get significantly more in cash for your cards than they will end up being worth a month down the road.

I think it's important to keep this dynamic in mind if you are weighing the pros and cons of buying into cases of BFZ. A lot of people are all thinking the same thing which can end up being dangerous when it comes to making an investment. For instance, remember Beenie Babies? Be careful not to buy too hard into the hype.

Oldies to Keep and Eye On

All of the cards that accelerate mana production have already seen a spike in the short term as people speculate on what will be the best ways to ramp Eldrazi fatties into play in BFZ Standard. The biggest gainer so far has been See the Unwritten which has spiked from a bulk mythic up to $10 in the past month.

Here are a few outside-the-box cards to think about that break out of the paradigm of simply being green ramp cards.

Silumgar, the Drifting Death

I like Silumgur, the Drifting Death a lot as a card that could be primed to be a big player in new post-rotation Standard. The card is already great in the Esper Dragons style decks and gets the benefit of turning on all of the "dragon spells" like Silumgar's Scorn and Foul-Tongue Invocation. It also has a huge butt and hexproof which makes it really difficult to kill.

The other aspect of this card that I enjoy very much is that it eats up an entire army of Hangarback Walker thopter tokens. I feel very confident that Hangarback is going to be one of (if not the) most important cards in Standard moving forward and a card that neutralizes it has a ton of upside.

The other thing to keep in mind is that Eldrazi Scion Tokens are likely to impact constructed Magic and Silumgur completely takes that avenue away from a ramp player. Also, being a legendary dragon gives the card lots of casual appeal down the road.

I don't think it is possible to lose on this card at less than a dollar and I'm looking to pick up as many copies as I can in the next few weeks. I'd be very surprised if any deck playing Polluted Delta was not casting this dragon post-rotation.

Hidden Dragonslayer

I've written about this card before in the context of being an Abzan Megamorph all-star sideboard card. With the entire engine of that deck (Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor) still intact post-rotation, I think it will likely be a key player. Hidden Dragonslayer is another tool that this deck can use to enable its morph strategy.

Another thing that I think makes this card get decidedly better post-rotation is that it will be able to flip up and kill giant Eldrazi Monsters that get into play.

Hallowed Moonlight

If See the Unwritten is an archetype in new Standard then Hallowed Moonlight is one of the best cards against that deck. Basically, it is a two-mana, cantripping answer to the powerful sorcery.

It is also pretty great that the card is a flexible answer to many other annoying things that are likely to be good. In particular, it stops a player from getting Hangarback Walker thopter tokens. It counters Hordeling Outburst and draws a card. It also stops Deathmist Raptor from coming into play from the graveyard.

I think that it is certainly a card that will have an opportunity to see some play in sideboards (if not maindecks) throughout the next year. It also has the added bonus of being potentially Eternal playable.

Promising New Cards

Oblivion Sower


Personally, I think this card is completely insane. It has a huge body, ramps, and creates card advantage. I have a feeling that this card will be a huge player in new Standard. I also think that this card is criminally underpriced for the $5 preorder price. I know it is in a duel deck but I still think it is a better card than that price tag.

First of all, the duel deck foils look terrible. Most tournament players are going to want "real" copies and not the weird promo foils. I think a good comparison for this card is Polukranos, World Eater which had a $10+ price tag despite the duel deck version when it was at its peak in Standard.

It is also worth noting that Sower has way more casual appeal than Polukranos. It can go in any Commander deck!

I preordered a playset for myself at $5 and I don't typically place preorders.

Nissa's Renewal


Currently preselling at $1. I think the upside on this card is extremely high. There is a very good chance that it ends up being a pillar of new Standard. The fact that it ramps you from six to nine mana is really important if you are trying to cast gigantic Eldrazi monsters.

The other important aspect of this card is that it gains a ton of life which allows you to actually survive taking a turn off in the critical midgame to cast a ramp spell. It's Primal Command that gets three lands.

Enemy Manlands

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I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the spoilers go up in the next week or so. I'm obviously also excited to see what the rest of the manland cycle ends up looking like. So far the two that have been spoiled look pretty 'blah' compared to the Worldwake ones, but it's important to keep in perspective that the Worldwake lands are really, really pushed in power level. It almost doesn't matter what the new manlands do because they are guaranteed to be amazing in Standard.

I'm also curious to see if we get a Tectonic Edge style card to combat manlands. If they print a land that somehow kills lands it could have a really huge impact on Modern as well. I'm not suggesting the second coming of Wasteland or anything, but I'm interested to see what the foil for these creature lands will be.


Post-rotation brewing for Standard is one of the coolest moments in Magic. It only happens once a year and things change so quickly. The best thing to do is keep your eyes and ears open and listen to what people are getting excited about because these are the cards that will end up defining Standard for the next year.

The first people to figure it out have a huge advantage on the trade floor. Personally, the card I'm most excited to build around is Oblivion Sower.

One thought on “Insider: Zendikar Expeditions Hype and BFZ

  1. Excellent Article…and I’m in full agreement with you regarding Oblivion Sower, however, as you mentioned this set could very well be the most opened set of all time thanks to the expeditions and that crushes the potential price ceiling on most of the cards…I actually feel like See the Unwritten is a good card to compare with Oblivion Sower because they both started off around $5, have strong long term casual appeal, and are deceptively powerful cards. Thanks to the fetchlands in khans (also causing a LOT of product to get cracked) See the Unwritten hit $2…I feel like Oblivion Sower could easily fall to $2-$3 before showing steady gains.

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