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Insider: The New Color…Less (Part 2)

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Welcome back, readers! Today's article is a follow-up to last week's, covering the two formats I couldn't squeeze in: Commander and Legacy. While doing research for this mini-series of articles, I found that the Commander section would likely have the most options for speculation and growth, so let's start there.

Commander

Colorless-Producing Artifacts

PristineTalisman SerumPowder ShrineOfBoundlessGrowth SisaysRing SolRing TalismanOfDominance TalismanOfImpulse TalismanOfIndulgence TalismanOfProgress TalismanOfUnity ThoughtVessel ThranDynamo UnstableObelisk UrGolemsEye VentifactBottle WardenOfTheWall WornPowerstone BasaltMonolith DreamstoneHedron EverflowingChalice FracturedPowerstone GrimMonolith GuardianIdol HedronArchive HonorWornShaku KrarkClanIronworks KyrenToy ManaCrypt ManaPrism manavault MindStone PrismaticLens

ThranTurbine AshnodsAltar MyrReservoirWorkhorseCathodionManakinMetalworkerMillikinMyrMoonvesselPalladiumMyrPlagueMyrSuChi

This is a pretty big list to pull from, so we should probably define some additional criteria. As mentioned last time, when it comes to speculation targets the number of copies that exist can play a huge role in the price ceiling and floor. Thus, a single printing (ideally from an older set) is definitely a boon, whereas multiple reprints (or a printing from a recent set like Innistrad or forward) will limit price growth.

Of course this also means mythics have the most potential, followed by rares, uncommons and lastly commons. But because we're dealing with cards that span Magic's entire history, we can still include commons as speculation targets. The common print run from older sets may in some cases actually be smaller than a mythic rare from a newer, large set.

Opportunities

Of these artifacts, the following are the ones I feel have the most opportunity for growth.

Grim Monolith - A single-print rare from 1999 (this card could get a driver's license in many states), this card's effect is very powerful and it's already both a Legacy and Commander staple. It combo's with Power Artifact for infinite mana and its price has been steadily increasing for the past year.

Monolith's price graph shows the exact type of growth we're looking for, as stable growth over time indicates a steady and accurate rise in demand. This thing isn't being driven by hype, but honest-to-god players who want to put it in sleeves and cast it.

grim monolith price trend

Metalworker - This card already saw a drastic price jump thanks to coming off of the Commander banned list. While it has given some artifact-based decks a much-needed shot in the arm, it hasn't broken the format by any means.

Given its ability to ramp out a Kozilek, the Great Distortion on turn four, we may see more of Metalworker in Commander's near future. The ironic part is that because Metalworker's ability requires a lot of artifacts in hand, you likely won't draw as many cards off of Kozilek's cast trigger.

This card also has a pretty stable price graph (save the price jump on the date of its unbanning in Commander).

metalworker price trend

Unstable Obelisk - While this was printed at uncommon, it only showed up in two of the 2014 Commander decks ("Sworn to Darkness" and "Peer Through Time"), which weren't all that popular (the chase decks were "Forged in Stone," which had Containment Priest, and "Built From Scratch," which had Wurmcoil Engine).

Obelisk provides a colorless Vindicate effect (at that, one you can cast early to slip under countermagic). This is a huge boon for mono-color decks with color pie issues removing certain types of permanents, like red with enchantments and black with artifacts.

Thran Turbine - This one might seem a little odd given that it doesn't allow us to use the mana to cast spells, but it's a one-mana artifact that continuously provides two colorless every turn, and it was printed in 1998.

This is on my short list of cards waiting for the other half of the combo to become broken. I wouldn't go out and buy hundreds of copies, but I'm going to make sure I have my personal playset and another just in case.

Kyren Toy - This one doesn't seem all that impressive at first, but Mercadian Masques wasn't a heavily opened set and this is another 16-year-old rare from said set. It's a bit slower and doesn't have that "wow factor," but it has potential. Due to age and rarity it's definitely one to keep an eye out for.

I was going to suggest Su-Chi as well, but it appears on November 30th it got bought out and is now sitting at three times the old price. It's a very old uncommon on the Reserved List with a single print run (Antiquities), but given how rarely I see its little brother Cathodion show up in Commander, I can't recommend Su-Chi at the new price.

Colorless-Producing Lands

ZoeticCavern AdarkarWastes AlchemistsRefuge AllyEncampment AncientTomb AnHavvaTownship ArcaneLighthouse ArchaeologicalDig AysenAbbey BantPanorama BattlefieldForge BlastedLandscape BlightedCataract BlightedFen BlightedGorge BlightedSteppe BlightedWoodland BlinkmothNexus BlinkmothWell Brushland BuriedRuin CalciformPools CalderaLake CascadeBluffs CastleSengir CathedralOfWar CavernOfSouls CavesOfKoilos CinderMarsh CityOfShadows CityOfTraitors CloudcrestLake Cloudpost CommandBeacon ContestedCliffs ContestedWarZone CoralAtoll CrucibleOfTheSpiritDragon CrystalQuarry CrystalVein DaruEncampment Desert DesertedTemple DesolateLighthouse DormantVolcano DreadshipReef DreadStatuary DuskmantleHouseOfShadow DustBowl EldraziTemple ElephantGraveyard EncroachingWastes EsperPanorama Everglades FetidHeath FireLitThicket FloodedGrove FoundryOfTheConsuls FungalReaches GargoyleCastle GavonyTownship GhostQuarter GhostTown Glimmerpost GoblinBurrows GrandColiseum GravenCairns GriffinCanyon GrimBackwoods GrixisPanorama GroveOfTheBurnwillows GroveOfTheGuardian HauntedFengraf HavenOfTheSpiritDragon HellionCrucible HengeOfRamos HighMarket HomewardPath InkmothNexus JundPanorama JungleBasin Karoo KarplusanForest KessigWolfRun KoskunKeep KrosanVerge LanternLitGraveyard LibraryOfAlexandria LlanowarWastes MageRingNetwork MazeOfShadows MazesEnd MirrodinsCore MishrasFactoryAutumn MishrasWorkshop MoggHollows MoltenSlagheap MoorlandHaunt Mutavault MyriadLandscape MysticGate MystifyingMaze NantukoMonastery NayaPanorama NephaliaDrownyard NimbusMaze NivixAerieOfTheFiremind NovijenHeartOfProgress OpalPalace OrzhovaTheChurchOfDeals PetrifiedField PhyrexiasCore PineBarrens PinecrestRidge PrahvSpiresOfOrder PrimalBeyond Quicksand RadiantFountain ReliquaryTower RiftstonePortal RiptideLaboratory RishadanPort RixMaadiDungeonPalace RoguesPassage RootwaterDepths RuggedPrairie SaltcrustedSteppe SaltFlats SanctumOfUgin Scabland SchoolOfTheUnseen ScorchedRuins SeasideHaven SeraphSanctuary ShelteredValley ShimmeringGrotto ShivanReef ShrineOfTheForsakenGods SkarrgTheRagePits SkyshroudForest SlayersStronghold SliverHive SoldeviExcavations SpawningBed SpringjackPasture StalkingStones StarlitSanctum StensiaBloodhall StripMineNoSkyTower SulfurousSprings SunhomeFortressOfTheLegion SunkenRuins SvogthosTheRestlessTomb Swarmyard TaintedField TaintedIsle TaintedPeak TaintedWood TarnishedCitadel TectonicEdge TempleOfTheFalseGod TendoIceBridge TerminalMoraine TerrainGenerator ThalakosLowlands ThespiansStage TombOfTheSpiritDragon TowerOfTheMagistrate TranquilGarden TwilightMire UndergroundRiver UnholyGrotto UnknownShores UnstableFrontier UrzasFactory UrzasMineMouth UrzasPowerPlantBug UrzasTowerForest VaultOfTheArchangel VecTownships VituGhaziTheCityTree Wasteland WaterveilCavern WindingCanyons WintermoonMesa WirewoodLodge WizardsSchool WoodedBastion YavimayaCoast

That's every single land I could find that produces specifically colorless mana in one way or another. I did mention quite a few of these in my previous article as many are Modern-legal.

Many of these have additional abilities that tap for colored mana. While this is desirable in Modern, it can actually be a hindrance to a card's adoption in Commander, as we're limited by our commander's color identity. Thus to put any of these lands in our deck, their colored abilities must line up with the colors of our general.

This is relevant because while some of the new Eldrazi might fit well into existing archetypes, the biggest catalyst for Commander speculation is when a new commander comes out that makes a bunch of cards much better. This happened to extra attack phase cards with Narset, Enlightened Master, and Wheel of Fortune-style cards with Nekusar, the Mindrazer.

Keeping this in mind, many of the lands listed above become less appealing as spec options. Kozilek, the Great Distortion is the most powerful and exciting of the new Eldrazi cards, and he's (surprise, surprise) colorless. That's the first commander enthusiasts of the format will be building around on the day Oath releases. The lands they'll need to make up the mana base are the "true colorless" ones, so I'll be focusing on those.

Opportunities

Myriad Landscape - This is another Commander 2014-only card that appeared in the less popular "Sworn to Darkness," "Peer Through Time," and "Guided by Nature" decks. The big catch with this particular card is that it also searches for basics...like the new Wastes, which can help power out our new colorless commander.

Terrain Generator - This was originally printed in Nemesis, and we already discussed how poor Masques block was from a sales standpoint. It did get reprinted in the Duel Deck Jace vs. Chandra (and again in the anthology reprinting), but neither of those print runs was particularly large. So the number of available copies is likely far lower than you might think.

The ability to put additional lands into play every turn is nothing to sneeze at, and being completely colorless allows non-green decks a way to ramp (as long as they have additional lands in hand). This will let players put Wastes into play from their hand to power Kozilek out faster.

Mystifying Maze - Printed pre-Innistrad (before one of the biggest explosions in the playerbase and therefore in print runs as well), this throwback to Maze of Ith actually plays very well in Commander. Sadly you can't target your own creatures to re-use enters-the-battlefield abilities, but you can use it politically to assist allies to re-trigger theirs.

Coming from a core set, we can assume there are fewer copies of this floating around out there compared to the block sets from the same era (Scars of Mirrodin for those interested.)

Scorched Ruins - This might be our biggest breakout star on the list. It's a single-print rare from Weatherlight printed in 1997 that can jump your mana production, à la Ancient Tomb or City of Traitors. While the cost is steep (sacrificing two untapped lands), this type of effect is hard to come by and borders on broken.

The current price tag is relatively low (sub-$3 as of this writing). I picked up two for myself after researching this article just in case.

Winding Canyons - This card was on Sigmund Ausfresser's old spec list from back in 2014 and since then it's actually done quite well. I remember picking them up in the $2-3 range and now they are sitting at $7-8.

As anyone who has played against Prophet of Kruphix can tell you, the flash ability here is very powerful. Being able to cast your colorless general at instant speed (especially this new Kozilek, who can then refill your hand) will likely lead to some epic games.

While this card has already moved upward once, it's a single-print rare on the Reserved List (again dating to 1997), so the ceiling is much higher than for many other speculation targets.

Legacy

By listing all of the cards available in Commander, we've conveniently covered everything that's an option for Legacy as well. The challenge in that format, of course, is a much higher bar for playables to make the grade. As a 99-card singleton format, there's simply more room in Commander decks for the second, third, and fourth best versions of a given effect---in Legacy not so much.

While I love the new Kozilek for Modern and Commander, I don't think he cuts it in Legacy. The biggest benefit of the previous Eldrazi titans was the stupidly broken annihilator mechanic. Kozilek's best attribute (the card draw) requires you cast him, which isn't likely to happen in Legacy outside of the specific interaction with Omniscience.

The ability to pitch cards to counter spells is still extremely strong---but as someone who has played a good bit of Legacy, I'd rather be staring across the table at him than Emrakul, the Aeons Torn any day. He's just not likely to find a home unless some deck that's already maxed out on 4x Emrakul is interested in more Eldrazi.

To make matters worse, on the card drawing front Kozilek still has to compete with Griselbrand. Big Daddy Griz is still king of that hill, since his ability can be used repeatedly and at instant speed.

Depending what else gets spoiled in Oath, we may yet see something with <> mana that could make a splash in Legacy. That's something to look out for, as if any of the rarer cards mentioned in this article suddenly become real staples, their ceiling could be pretty absurd.

3 thoughts on “Insider: The New Color…Less (Part 2)

  1. I absolutely love Winding Canyons, I believe the only reason it’s not $20+ is because many Commander players don’t know it exist or don’t realize its strength. It’s as close to a staple in my decks as anything (which puts it above usual suspects like Sol Ring and Sensei’s Divining Top). I believe it and City of Shadows have the most potential of all lands you’ve mentioned.

    Note that Library of Alexandria isn’t legal in Commander nor in Legacy.

    1. It may by the way be a good idea to wait for the Commander Rules Committee to make a statement about how producing off-color mana in will work with the new mana: let’s say I play a BGW deck and I need colorless mana, could I tap my City of Brass for U and have it automatically be converted to colorless mana due to the rules of the format? There are 10 pages of discussion on this on the Commander forums.

      1. Excellent suggestion Pi…I didn’t even consider the idea of using something like City of Brass to “cheat” colorless mana. I honestly feel it shouldn’t work that way, but I’ll definitely need to monitor what the RC decides.

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