I’m back with another financial evaluation, this time the Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) edition. As always, I bring to you all my full set review regarding rares and mythics from the set. First up are the mythics.
Like Battle for Zendikar (BFZ), we’ll have to account for Expeditions soaking up some of the overall EV of the set---which leaves us with the mythics of OGW taking up roughly an average of $5 currently. That's a bit lower than normal, but again due in part to Expeditions, so don’t confuse this with immediate upside.
The one caveat I keep talking about is that the Expeditions likely won’t be nearly as coveted overall in comparison to the first batch in BFZ. That might lead to a few more cards maintaining their price or slightly increasing as we go along, which was certainly not the case for BFZ. We saw an overall drop in many of the cards in that set, with a small handful of cards staying flat, and even fewer increasing.
On the contrary Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, has now suddenly picked up interest due to Modern. Which is one of the very few examples.
To recap briefly on my Battle for Zendikar analysis, we can see here that the overall set has significantly declined since the time I wrote the article. A few short notes:
- Gideon, Ally of Zendikar has basically been the lone bright spot in BFZ. The percentage of this card showing up in Standard decks after release was staggering. I placed this as a top tier mythic, and like many others had high praise for the card. Turns out it was all warranted.
- On the flip side a very hyped mythic in Undergrowth Champion took a nose-dive and is now sitting at a paltry few dollars. A rebound could happen, but it was clearly a missed initial evaluation. I do think it’s still a fine card, and its fate might change. I'm not holding my breath.
Overall my mythic evaluation was spot on, and while basically every price took a drastic decrease, 4 out of the 5 mythics I listed as “Top Tier” ended up being financially relevant.
Now on to Oath of the Gatewatch!
The Tier System
Breaking the cards down into a tiered list makes it easier to determine what will hold the majority of the set's value. I will most likely use this methodology going forward in evaluating future sets. I also wanted to do it this way because I don’t feel like attaching a future value to any of these cards. I feel like that method is a little inefficient and doesn’t take into account future printings that could potentially make these cards better.
So I wouldn’t want to attach a low value to a card that’s potentially powerful like I have in the past. The truth is while a card may look terrible right now, we don’t know the future and how this card could interact with future cards.
So as an avid player of fighting games, the tiered method makes the most sense to me, since it also allows for cards to move around, which undoubtedly will happen as time goes on. This happens all the time in many of the fighting games in their life cycles as well.
This is my explanation for each tier in the list:
- Top Tier is reserved for the cards that will most likely hold the majority of the value in the set. More commonly known as the “chase cards.”
- Mid 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 mid tier these cards could easily jump up to higher tiers but the road traveled will be harder. Again, I don’t think these cards are necessarily bad but my analysis is that they will be the cheapest cards in the set.
These tiers are built primarily for Standard, however if a card has clear implications in Modern or beyond, it will also appear in a higher tier. Commander and casual appeal are not factored heavily into these ratings.
- Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
- Kozilek’s Return
- Chandra, the Flamecaller
- Kozilek, the Great Distortion
- Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
- Linvala, the Preserver
- World Breaker
- General Tazri
- Crush of Tentacles
- Sphinx of the Final Word
- Inverter of Truth
Top Tier Mythics
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar makes a very strong case for frontrunner of this set. The small but effective line of three-drop planeswalkers have all made an impact when they were in Standard. Some even beyond that.
Looking at these planeswalkers, we can bring up some of the pricing history---I like using Domri Rade in this instance.
If we look at Domri Rade’s price history, it also started off high during the pre-order period. It then went on to cool off quite a bit before seeing a drastic surge in price.
An all-time high of $33 was reached as it became a force during its Standard tenure, while seeing some fringe success in Brian Kibler’s Domri-Zoo deck in a large event. This was a planeswalker, mind you, that caught plenty of flack for not directly having a way to protect itself, and for its card advantage ability being too restrictive to build around.
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar doesn’t really have that issue. The card does everything a three-mana cost walker (or any walker for that matter) should do, and does it efficiently enough that it doesn’t directly need other cards to be self sustaining. It can produce creatures, subsequently buff those creatures, or build up into an extremely rewarding ultimate. I think there’s extreme upside here, and it has already increased quite a bit from the initial $14.99 price tag.
Is this the next Narset Transcendent? While it may look that way during pre-orders, I think Nissa's price is entirely justified. She's sold out on SCG at $29.99. You can find copies at other locations for cheaper, but SCG’s sold-out price could well be the going price for the card in the near future.
Many of my fellow QS writers here also have high praise for this card---Ryan Overturf and Mike Lanigan, for example. I trust the writing staff here for evaluations, and I think it's warranted with Nissa.
Pre-order Price: $29.99
This has quickly become a strong candidate to battle Nissa for the most coveted card in OGW. There’s no denying the power level, and instant speed mass removal is extremely good on face value. Volcanic Fallout was a format-defining card in its tenure during Standard, and we're looking at a mythic version of that card.
The main power comes from the second ability. Adding a tacked-on kicker to any large Eldrazi creature is the icing on the cake, often leaving opponents with nothing and you with a giant monster (or two). I'll talk about this more below when we come to World Breaker.
Consider that the "icing" is uncounterable and free, and it's not hard to see this card finding an immediate home amidst the Eldrazi craze sweeping Magic formats right now. This card is a shoe-in and many decks will lean heavily on it in Standard, if nothing else for the second ability which will be easy to trigger in most cases. G/R Tron lists will also appreciate being able to find it off an Ancient Stirrings.
After April, along with Eldrazi Ramp lists, this isn't going anywhere. We will be losing fetchlands, and the metagame will be shifted in a way to really lean on this card going forward. Without four-color manabases to support cards like Radiant Flames, Kozilek’s Return remains an easily splashable card. It might be a stretch to adopt in every archetype, but it will see plenty of action in the plethora of ramp lists, including Modern Eldrazi and Tron.
I think hedging on pre-order prices around $12-14 is a good bet (assuming you can still find those prices) because I don’t see this going much lower. It was apparently a good idea to grab these early on in pre-order period, considering it's already gone up quite a bit since then.
Pre-order Price: $19.99
Mid Tier Mythics
I want to say briefly, this tier for Oath of the Gatewatch is packed. Many cards here could easily shift tiers, and could be commanding higher or lower prices depending on how much play they see.
There are no “bad” mythics here, but room for a lot of potential. Especially in World Breaker, which has my pick for the most promising of the bunch.
I’m going to group most of these mythic together, because by-and-large they all have room to grow or decline based on their integration into Standard or even Modern.
I’ve seen great praise for Chandra, Flamecaller by many who have played the game for a long time. I’m not 100% sold, but I do think it’s a fine card---it's just that the bar for successful six-drop planeswalkers was set really high by Elspeth, Sun's Champion.
That's not to say Chandra won't have success in Standard (although outside of that format it's highly unlikely). I just don't think it will translate into financial success. She's not as good as Elspeth, so don't expect her to reach the same prices.
We will likely re-evaluate this after April, but for now some Dark Jeskai lists might stand to benefit from including Chandra. Or we could see something interesting like this decklist from Magic League:
Kozilek, the Great Distortion
Kozilek, the Great Distortion will likely play second fiddle to the new Ulamog. It’s a powerful and potent card, but from watching SCG Charlotte it was clear that most players asked on coverage are planning to stick with new Ulamog. I think that’s correct, considering Ulamog is easier to cast, and has a better on-cast trigger. Kozilek will have it's uses, and will likely be adopted in some capacity in both Standard and Modern. I just think it will lag behind in play % behind Ulamog, and it's price will reflect that. Foils have great upside here, because it is an Eldrazi Titan.
In the casual sense Kozilek will always be relevant, and will likely hover around the $8-12 mark for quite some time, before beginning to experience longer-term growth like its predecessor.
Linvala, the Preserver
Linvala, the Preserver is no Thragtusk, despite what anyone says. The comparison isn’t relevant and shouldn’t be where players immediately go to evaluate this card. There will be times when one (or both) conditions can’t be met, and it ends up being one mode of a Timely Reinforcements tacked on to a 5/5 flyer. That isn’t terrible, but it isn't great either.
Its current pre-order price is reasonable, and I don’t expect this card to dip much further below $5 just for appeal factor alone. I’m confident it will play some role in Standard, and will likely be a powerful play at six mana. This issue is whether that be good enough when ramp decks are just trying to go over the top with Ulamog.
Solid card overall, but I don’t think this format will suddenly be warped around this card like in the past with Thragtusk.
Pre-Order Prices: $14.99 (Chandra) $19.99 (Kozilek) $9.99 (Linvala)
Here’s what I grouped together as the cards in mid-tier with the higher upside. Each of these cards should be watched very closely, as any of them could make a large impact in various constructed formats.
Firstly, I think World Breaker is the dark horse of OGW. I understand everyone is excited about Kozilek’s Return and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, and rightfully so. But at its current price, World Breaker offers immense upside in comparison.
Top Level Podcast talked about this card extensively, and I understand why everyone would initially misevaluate it. It’s a key card, not only because it breaks ramp mirror match-ups, but because it will trigger Kozilek's Return very often. Remember how I said I would reference World Breaker again? Well, it’s going to be the frontrunner card in the two-card synergy that will likely be a locked eight slots in ramp lists.
I originally didn’t think World Breaker was any cause for excitement, and I’m fully honest and transparent about it. I have since been able to read more about the card and get lots of feedback about what it will do in Standard. The verdict: a whole lot.
I think its pre-order price is not only great for playing purposes, but has financial upside as well. The fact that it can recur itself is gravy.
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is another interesting card as well.
I’ve been trying to get feedback on this card's prospects of competing with Pia and Kiran Nalaar in Modern. I always come back with mixed reviews. While it might need more testing, or more time to determine if Kalitas is able to snatch any maindeck spots away, I can bet it will be likely sideboard material.
This card just does things efficiently at four mana and provides a much needed solution for decks devoid of any good option against aggressive decks, like Grixis Control. In the meantime, it has also been discussed that it could be a very good mirror-breaker in midrange Modern decks like Junk and Jund. There are already other cards in the format like Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells, but I truly think Kalitas can give those options a real run for their money.
Meanwhile in Standard, it’s hard to determine how this card matches up with other high-impact four-drops like Siege Rhino, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, etc. Once April rolls around, I think this will be a strong candidate, especially assuming Shadows over Innistrad can provide additional zombies on curve before Kalitas drops.
I’m not a fan at $9.99, but if you can find them cheaper I’d say grab your playset. I doubt this will be much lower than $4-5, so it wouldn’t be a significant drop-off if you can find copies in the $6-8 range.
Mirrorpool is another mythic rare land in a short list of mythic lands that have been printed in Magic’s history. Looking at its predecessors Eye of Ugin and Maze's End, things can either go really well or really poorly.
Maze’s End saw some fringe play at the tail end of its tenure in Standard with the Maze’s End Fog lists. On the other hand, Eye of Ugin made a big comeback, albeit years later.
My thoughts are I would hold out on the now-inflated price, but around $4 isn't a terrible place to be. What’s interesting is both mythic lands (looking back to when Eye of Ugin was also irrelevant) were able to hold value above bulk on basically no competitive merit.
I think Mirrorpool is one of those cards that somewhere down the line players will be complaining about because it’s a card that “slipped through the crack” with the introduction of the ✧ symbol.
Pre-Order Prices: $9.99 (Kalitas) $9.99 (Mirrorpool) $3.99 (World Breaker)
Low Tier Mythic
Here we round out the bulk mythics of OGW. Honestly, I don’t have much to say, so I’ll just leave some thoughts here in the form of bullet notes:
- Foil General Tazri are probably the place to be for this bulk mythic. It’s a Commander general that enables a five-color ally archetype. WotC explained the design behind this card was a direct result of players clamoring for something similar, so we know the target market is out there.
- Sphinx of the Final Word can be a playable card in some control lists as a finisher. Maybe.
- Crush of Tentacles is playable as well, but I don’t think that translates to financial upside. Maybe a Lands control list based around Magmatic Insight is viable. If only we got Quicken back.
- Inverter of Truth is one of those weird build-around-me cards. Without an immediate home, it will likely plummet down to bulk status.
Up next, rares! I have discussed these rares and mythics in my spoiler coverage and on QSCast, so if you want to hear additional information and opinions feel free to check those out.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Feel free to comment below or message me via social media. Hopefully this list is helpful going forward to decide what’s worth trading for or buying at the prerelease and beyond!
If you’ve missed my other financial set reviews you can find them here:
- Chaz @ChazVMTG