Khans of Tarkir won't be in Standard much longer, and when it rotates only Magic Origins and Dragons of Tarkir will separate us from full immersion in the new rotation model.
Given the reprinting of fetchlands, it's difficult to assess exactly what the prices of Khans rares tell us about the future. On the one hand, we see the sub-$2 price of a rare featured as a four-of in what many regard as the best deck in Standard...
...On the other hand, we see a cycle of other regular rares devouring most of the value in the set.
Further confounding the issue is the sheer volume of Khans product opened in order to chase the fetchland reprints. There are clearly multiple factors behind the laughably low price of Mantis Rider, which makes the matter of how to proceed with Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) all the more troubling.
BFZ has its own confounding factors. That begins with Expeditions, which will at least be less pronounced than the fetchlands, as they have a smaller impact on the average value of a pack.
On the other hand, BFZ is afflicted by the vast suckitude of the expansion in general. Khans was flush with great cards, while BFZ has a very short list of cards commonly considered to be Constructed-playable.
Given these differences, I would expect a handful of marquee cards from BFZ to reach prices in the $10 range, rather than a stark division between garbage and fetchlands. The trick, of course, is determining which cards will fall into this camp.
Picking the Winners
The following are my picks for BFZ cards most likely to impact Standard as we move into the next rotation. I believe much of the set's value will be parked in these cards when all the chips have fallen.
Gideon will be a Standard staple for as long as he's legal. I thought he was absurd when I first saw him, and since I've started playing him he's only exceeded expectations.
Gideon is hovering just under $30 right now. I don't see him getting much lower until BFZ enters lame duck status, and he could easily jump into the $40-50 range when we return to Innistrad.
BFZ will be able to maintain one high-dollar mythic without crippling the set's economy, and Gideon will be that mythic. The spread on this card is tiny, which typically bodes well for price growth.
The so-called "tango lands" are a bit of a question mark, but my money is on a price increase come rotation. People will play whatever duals are available, and these lands are quite strong even without fetchlands to pair with them.
Your mileage will vary by land type, as some color pairs will be more popular than others. Seeing as aggressive decks don't like having their first land come into play tapped, I'd hedge my bets on the blue members of this cycle.
Manland duals are the best duals of all, though Lumbering Falls has the downside of being in a color pair that kind of sucks. If the Simic guild sees some love, expect an upturn in the price of Lumbering Falls.
Shambling Vent has the bonus of being in a color pair that supports Gideon. I expect its value to increase slightly one way or the other, barring better manlands in Oath of the Gatewatch. In particular, it wouldn't surprise me to see Boros staking the claim for the best Gideon deck in the future.
Bring to Light
Bring to Light hasn't had much impact on Standard, with players more keen on running 3-4 color manabases with playsets of the best cards over five-color toolboxes. That said, Bring to Light has real Modern appeal in Scapeshift decks.
Foils aren't that expensive in the $6 range, and I only expect that number to increase over time. Foils will also see a demand boost from Cube and Commander. Prerelease foils seem to be commanding a slightly higher premium than set foils with the new prerelease policy, so that might be a better target, though they could ultimately be harder to move.
I pick this card only because it's a penny stock, and purely speculatively. The card hasn't performed in a world of Mantis Rider and Siege Rhino, but as the power level scales back that could change. In a metagame where two damage kills a healthy amount of threats, this card would be great.
I like this as trade throw-in, but I wouldn't spend more than a quarter on them.
Drana has managed to stay above bulk-mythic status despite not really being played, and could see a price spike after rotation. Mantis Rider is a serious deterrent to the 2/3 flier, and it's not hard to imagine a mono-colored creature that packs such a punch for three mana seeing a considerable amount of play in Standard.
There will probably only be one Drana deck, so the ceiling is probably around $15. But I'd say the odds of such a Drana deck existing and it being good is pretty high.
This card is actually just kind of good. The ceiling is low, because the card is pretty niche, but calling this card Baleful Strix Light is an apt comparison. When rotation makes the red decks weaker, this card could really shine. This isn't one that I would aggressively seek out, but it's another great trade throw-in.
Ulamog is ticking up in price right now, and most of the elements that make a good Ulamog deck won't be rotating. This card has Standard appeal and tremendous casual appeal. At minimum, it will double over the course of the next year, see a dip when it rotates, and then creep up in value over time. This is a very solid target right now.
According to Craig Wescoe, this card is just good right now. Whether this continues to be true will be contingent on the printing of more enablers and the relevance of a 3/2 with a built-in Last Gasp.
This card could easily be a few bucks in the right environment, but I'm somewhat hesitant picking it up. I like it as a throw-in, but I value it under other cards mentioned earlier.
This creature is just huge. It currently sees fringe play, which is likely to increase as the format's power level comes down.
This is yet another card to target on the very cheap and as a trade throw-in. The card is unplayable if the mana going forward is only good enough for two-color decks, but consistently casting it for three or four colors makes it a relevant force.
Given the general factors relevant to Khans and BFZ, I believe that BFZ has more room for individual card prices to grow than its predecessor. The set is pretty low-powered, and that makes most of the targets obvious.
For non-obvious targets, approach with caution as usual, but know that something has to hit. If nothing else, the low-end rares I mentioned are great candidates for Kelly Reid's MTGO investment strategy.
Thanks for reading.
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