Insider: Planning for Rotation Changes in 2016

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We've seen a lot of price movement in the wake of Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy was exposed for flying too close to the sun, with prices dropping despite substantial success at the PT.

Meanwhile, almost every other card that saw similar success spiked. This included Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, which gained $10 in value, as I predicted last week.

By now you know what spiked and have an idea of the Standard metagame. What I'd like to discuss is the implication of us now living in the universe of two-set block rotations.

Khans Winding Down

Specs from Khans of Tarkir are hitting now, with Mantis Rider and Crackling Doom rising from near bulk to $3, and Anafenza, the Foremost and Wingmate Roc more than doubling.

While I was vending last weekend, one player was buying Mantis Riders from the store for a buck each, expecting them to hit $5 soon. I seriously thought about selling him a bunch at $1.

For $2 each I would have happily sold a healthy portion of my inventory, and not at all because I don't believe in the card. Partly because regular rares from Khans are in abundance, but mostly because we're already close to the time to sell out of Khans.

It's crazy to think about, but there are only two more set releases before Khans leaves Standard. The set code-named "Tears" launches in May of 2016 and bumps Khans and Fate Reforged out of Standard.

Battle for Zendikar is to Khans of Tarkir as Dragons of Tarkir was to Theros. Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir took place in April of 2015. The price history of nearly any Theros rare from that point forward consistently trends downward.

Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a window to sell Mantis Riders and the like right now. People will need these cards to play Standard until the set rotates, but with such a short window it is quite risky to speculate on Khans and Fate Reforged.

I'm going to want a couple sets of Soulfire Grand Master in the booth for the next couple months, but the time to buy aggressively has passed.

The next "block," Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins, is a much safer place to park your money. We've been saying this here at Quiet Speculation for months, and we are hitting the final window to successfully act on this advice.

Many of the standout cards from Dragons and Origins have already seen new-Standard spikes, but trading Khans and Fate into Dragons and Origins is a pretty strong lateral move right now.

There are also a few gems that haven't completely taken off yet. One card I think is poised for significant gains over the next six months is Nissa, Vastwood Seer.

There was an error retrieving a chart for Nissa, Vastwood Seer

The price points of Jace and Hangarback Walker make it difficult for other cards from Origins to see significant gains as of now, but that's quickly changing.

Liliana, Heretical Healer nearly doubled the weekend of the PT due to its presence in one of the sweet decks from the tournament. U/B Aristocrats won't necessarily have staying power, but Liliana is still up around 33% from her pre-PT price.

Meanwhile, Nissa has only seen small gains. This despite being a four-of in the well performing Bant Tokens deck, a three-of in the Megamorph deck that top-eighted, and even being featured in Gerry Thompson's five-color Bring to Light deck. I could see Nissa being a $35-40 card pretty easily during her time in Standard.

Staying Abreast of Modern

The other general piece of advice regarding MTG finance going into 2016 is that we'll have a PPTQ season driving Modern demand for a few months each year going forward, assuming no changes to the current PPTQ structure.

Snapcaster Mage saw significant growth during this year's Modern PPTQ season, hitting its all-time high just over $70. Ol' Snappy has cooled off a bit now that we're back to hyping Standard, and I expect some players to panic and sell copies off in light of the RPTQ promo announcement.

When Modern season rears its head again, I anticipate an increase in demand to tick Snapcaster back up from its current $50 price tag. We'll be in the off-season for a while, but it's generally wise to pick up any Modern staple taking a dip during this time.

With Dragons well positioned as a set and it being Modern off-season, a card I'm big on right now is Kolaghan's Command. K Command is coming into its own in Standard, appearing as a three-of in many Jeskai Black decks.

The card has seen significant growth since the PT, but I don't think it's at its ceiling, largely because it's also Modern-defining. It's a staple in every Grixis archetype as well as Jund.

Non-foils might not be great to move on right now, but I think foils are poised for a spike. Currently, foil copies are only commanding about a 2x premium over non-foils, which is low for Modern staples.

For comparison, look at the price of foil Tasigurs--they're both more expensive as individual cards and have significantly higher multipliers. And they're played mostly in the same decks!

To be fair, Tasigur is also a Legacy/Vintage card, but there are also about twice as many foil Tasigurs on TCG Player than Kolaghan's Commands. With only 28 listings of K Command foils, it wouldn't take much to see a spike.


2016 will see the occurrence of our first two-set block rotation in addition to a presumed yearly Modern PPTQ season. Adapting to these new trends will set savvy financiers apart, and will be clutch in making the year successful.

It's the same game as it ever was, but the differences in the timeline will prove relevant.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

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