Welcome to the rares section of my Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) set review. If you missed the part on mythics, you can check that out here. Let's dive right in.
This is another Expedition set, which will likely create a soft ceiling on most non-mythic rares, similar to the situation with Battle for Zendikar (BFZ). At least the rares are interesting this time around. I was excited to review these and found myself having a hard time evaluating some just due to the ✧ symbol. I also love me some Oath of Nissa.
To recap briefly on my BFZ analysis, we can see that overall the set has significantly declined since the time I wrote the article. I’ll go over the notable cards in this short bulleted list:
- While Bring to Light and Fathom Feeder looked to have a promising future, their prices declined drastically. Turns out all that Expedition hunting was a warranted concern.
- Wasteland Strangler proved me wrong. This was a big misevaluation on my part, and looking back I feel incredibly naive to place it in the bottom tier.
- Some cards have shifted around, but truthfully outside the "Battle lands" no rare besides Wasteland Strangler was financially relevant. Some foils got a huge bump because of the Modern Eldrazi deck (Wasteland Strangler and Conduit of Ruin, to name a few). I do like Sanctum of Ugin and Shrine of the Forsaken Gods going forward.
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.
- Eldrazi Displacer
- Goblin Dark-Dwellers
- Matter Reshaper
- Oath of Nissa
- Reality Smasher
- Thought-Knot Seer
- Wandering Fumarole
- Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
- Bearer of Silence
- Call the Gatewatch
- Corrupted Crossroads
- Eldrazi Mimic
- Eldrazi Obligator
- Hissing Quagmire
- Jori En, Ruin Diver
- Mina and Denn, Wildborn
- Needle Spires
- Oath of Chandra
- Oath of Gideon
- Oath of Jace
- Ruins of Oran Rief
- Sea Gate Wreckage
- Stone Haven Outfitter
- Sylvan Advocate
- Vile Redeemer
- Captain’s Claws
- Deceiver of Form
- Deepfathom Skulker
- Dimensional Infiltrator
- Drana’s Chosen
- Dread Defiler
- Gladeheart Cavalry
- Fall of the Titans
- Hedron Alignment
- Munda’s Vanguard
- Remorseless Punishment
- Stoneforge Masterwork
- Sifter of Skulls
- Tyrant of Valakut
- Zendikar Resurgent
Top Tier Rares
First up is Eldrazi Displacer. I did a spoiler article on this card and many of my feelings will likely be rehashed here. I don’t feel any different from when I wrote my thoughts on this card then.
This card has a lot of upside. Unfortunately as with many BFZ rares, that might not translate directly to financial success and the current price could decrease as easily as increase.
As it is, it will likely either hold or increase slightly if it turns out to be the card everyone is expecting. I have high hopes for this card, and there are plenty of juicy targets for its effect. If ✧ isn’t an issue (and it likely won’t be) then this will slot right in alongside cards like Siege Rhino.
In case anyone has been under a rock, the following infinite combo is now available in Standard:
Whether this is viable is a different question. In any case, Eldrazi Displacer has a whole plethora of other useful applications:
- Deal with awaken lands
- Stop attackers
- Trigger enter-the-battlefield effects
- Protect from removal
- Destroy tokens
The list goes on. It’s a really strong rare in this set, and while the pre-order prices have increased over this time frame I don’t think it's a bulk or near-bulk rare by any means.
Pre-Order Price: $5.99
Goblin Dark-Dwellers will either be the card we wished we grabbed at $2-3 right now, or be completely overrated. I don’t think there’s a middle ground here. I think it’s an extremely potent card, which is reinforced by the Buy-a-Box Promo (they’re usually viable cards).
This card certainly can flashback some interesting cards both now and after April. A few notables are Kolaghan's Command, Dromoka's Command and Crackling Doom. Some of these spells will be rotating, but some won’t be---and in addition we’ll get to see what Shadows over Innistrad brings.
In the meantime, I’ve even heard talk of this card's potential in Modern. Fellow QS writer Sheridan Lardner also runs Modern Nexus, and is vested in the format as well as a few others here. An article there mentioned that even something like Boom // Bust has some real appeal to pair with the Dark-Dwellers in Modern. This in addition to many other high-value cards all the way down to plain old Lightning Bolt.
The card is generating buzz, and rightfully so. Whether that continues to translate to financial success is another story, but I’ll be pulling the trigger if this starts getting a lot of hype---there's a good chance it would be warranted.
Pre-Order Price: $3.99
Oath of Nissa
I think Oath of Nissa is the most powerful rare in the set. I already secured a few playsets, and I think this will have multiple format implications. There’s a lot of value packed into that one green mana cost. It’s a Prismatic Omen for planeswalkers (which might be more relevant than everyone thinks), and it’s as close as green will ever get to Ponder.
It just does a lot of things green has never had access to before, and does them well. And there's absolutely no reason not to run four of this card because its value is in the ETB trigger so it doesn’t matter that it’s legendary.
Between growing Tarmogoyf, making your land base tap easily for Sarkhan Unbroken and near-Pondering in green, this card was well worth the early pre-order prices. There’s a lot to contend with in this seemingly packed set full of value, but this has the clear upside for multi-format play. So, I easily put it in this tier, and was happy to invest back at the $2.99 price-point.
Pre-Order Price: $5.99
Reality Smasher is a great card. It’s probably going to see play in Standard, and has a good shot at being included in Modern Eldrazi. Thinking of this card alongside Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple honestly seems unfair.
I will say it’s not Thundermaw Hellkite, but it’s really close. I don’t know how trading flying for trample will end up working out, or how easily ✧ can be produced in Standard. My guess is it won’t be an issue, and this thing just rips through anything on the ground currently---yes, even Siege Rhino.
Its ability is quite cumbersome for the opponent too, especially in Standard where efficient removal is hard to come by already. Tacking on a Raven's Crime to your opponent’s one good removal spell is enticing. Standard is devoid (pun) of caliber removal like Hero's Downfall these days, so the Reality Smasher might not be met with very favorable resistance.
I’m not too thrilled at its current pre-order price, and it has increased since it was first spoiled. I’d be okay playing the waiting game on this one to see where it ends up.
Pre-Order Price: $5.99
Thought-Knot Seer is going to find a home in Modern Eldrazi, and has the best shot out of any other Eldrazi or ✧-costed card. With Eye of Ugin this card is severely devastating.
Being comparable to Vendilion Clique is a good place for a recently printed Standard rare. I think foils have high upside here, and a majority of players peg this as a lock in the Eldrazi lists in Modern.
As I mentioned in my OGW Spoiler article, I am skeptical of non-foil versions. There’s going to be a glut of supply and when we compare this to a card like Wasteland Strangler which also saw a recent bump, we see it's already at the non-foil price high.
If you got in early, kudos---but I would stick to foils here, assuming you find a good price. Despite not having shown a considerable finish in a large tournament, Eldrazi in Modern is likely here to stay, and I think we’ll see an updated list at the PT for sure.
Pre-Order Price: $9.99
Matter Reshaper is a really interesting card and looks great on paper. I just don’t know exactly where this card fits in. I guess in any deck that wants an aggressively costed card that gets value when it dies. This one was hard to evaluate, and for now I’ll keep it in this tier.
This card is solid, no doubt. That being said, the pre-order price is absurdly high. Sitting at $7.99 is just not where I want to be in any capacity. For playing purposes I would wait, and I don’t think this card may ever translate to financial upside unless it somehow drops low enough, then rebounds after proving itself a format-defining card.
This all comes back to the question of the ✧ cost. I don’t think it will be an issue but I'd rather feel like a broken record than not add that caveat to each of these cards. It’s a new mana symbol after all, so there are some restrictions that come with it.
Of note, Collected Company can help splash for this card by ignoring the colorless requirement, so that's something to keep in mind. Company decks are often interested in value, and flashing this guy in to block an attacker sounds like gas.
Pre-Order Price: $7.99
I think Wandering Fumarole is the best of the second round of creature lands by quite a large margin. Not that the others are technically bad, but I think the Fumarole has a better shot in formats outside Standard.
Ryan Overturf covered this on our spoiler coverage, and I agree with a lot of what he said there. It’s no Celestial Colonnade but it is a very strong creature land in a long line of creature lands.
I also want to state emphatically that Wandering Fumarole is going to die to Lightning Bolt so don’t try and be slick about that.
Like the other creature lands in this block, I expect this to drop significantly in price because all the other ones have---even one as good as Shambling Vent. After a long period of time I expect the best of this cycle to increase in value and Wandering Fumarole will be no exception.
Pre-Order Price: $4.99
Mid Tier Rares
I’ll handle most of these mid tier rares in groups. Some of them feel better than near-bulk rares, but I understand they could easily end up there.
The lands that produce ✧ or are otherwise involved with the new mana symbol were all placed in this tier because this is first time seeing this mechanic, and any one of them could easily be a mistake by R&D. For this reason they should all be closely monitored---what WotC thinks is “restrictive” in adding ✧ could easily be built around and spun into a huge positive.
I think Sea Gate Wreckage is the one to watch. It comes into play untapped, and doesn't seem hard to make work for any deck that's interested in the effect. We've already seen renowned players such as Patrick Chapin advocating this card in an aggressive shell. With a high flexibility, this card could suddenly climb substantially if it ever falls low enough. I don’t think it’s a terrible investment at the current price from a playing perspective either.
I don’t know if any of these lands have a shot at another format besides Standard, but if I had to bet, again it would be on Sea Gate Wreckage.
I really wish Ruins of Oran-Rief could have been played in Modern Robots, but alas I don’t think I’ll get the satisfaction. It’s a really great utility land, but coming into play tapped might be too taxing. On the flip side I’ve seen discussion about Sea Gate Wreckage as a possible one-of inclusion. Seems a bit cute, and I question how many activations you’d realistically get in the hyper-aggressive Robots.
Pre-Order Prices: $1.99 (Corrupted Crossroads) $0.99 (Ruins of Oran-Rief) $2.99 (Sea Gate Wreckage)
Here we have a group of “Value-Drazi.” Each one of these is costed at a price that's probably fine to pay for playing purposes. I don’t see huge financial upside here, but any one of these could be a sleeper in Standard.
Cards like Eldrazi Obligator have some upside as a value card, and could likely end up in a place similar to Zealous Conscripts. This card and Vile Redeemer are both interesting remakes of their predecessors, and they could certainly have their day in Standard.
The same could be said for any one of these cards, but the ceiling is pretty low. If you need your sets the current price points are fine, but going deep as an investment is probably ill-advised.
A few writers here also like the Value-Drazi, and have brought up Bearer of Silence as a card with potential. I don’t disagree, and trust their judgment. For me, I just feel like we’re running into Mantis Rider-type cards which, regardless of how well they play a role, will perpetually be $1 cards (if that).
Conversely, the one card here that might hit it big is Eldrazi Mimic. It would be the crux of any sort of Colorless Eldrazi list, whether in Standard or Modern. Patrick Chapin showcased a list that was extremely interesting:
Pre-Order Prices: $2.99 (Bearer of Silence) $1.99 (Eldrazi Mimic) $0.99 (Eldrazi Obligator)
I placed the rest of the Oaths here, but all of them have really good upside. I love the Oath cycle, and it’s one of the more exciting and well designed cycles in terms of originality in quite some time.
Oath of Nissa is obviously the front runner but I think all of these will see the light of day. The runner up here is likely Oath of Jace. Standard doesn’t have access to this type of card draw in blue, and it plays well with another Jace card in Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound. That interaction is honestly scary, and makes another great case to get back on the Jace train.
The interaction is really potent, and it’s going to stick around after April. Fantastic. So, from that standpoint I think this particular Oath is one to watch closely.
An interesting aside about Oath of Gideon. In Modern, it can enable Tezzeret the Seeker, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and Garruk Wildspeaker to ultimate immediately. Just some food for thought; I don’t know where we go from there.
I would be extremely surprised if any of these ended up in a format besides Standard. They're not as powerful as Oath of Nissa but they’ll likely have good casual appeal---and who knows, maybe Oath of Gideon draws attention for what I just stated.
I don’t know if the OGW creature lands are good enough for anything besides Standard, but each one is fairly decent for what you’re investing into their activation costs.
Hissing Quagmire is very fair on curve, and will likely have a significant role in Standard locking down the board and leaving your opponent with precarious attacking situations. Trading Hissing Quagmire with their Siege Rhino or large non-indestructible Eldrazi seems like a great position to be in.
Needle Spires also adds some additional support to aggressive strategies. It’s clearly one of the less powerful of the new cycle, but it still has its uses. I don’t know what everyone was expecting, but let’s be honest---we’re not getting Ghitu Encampment.
So, we’ll have to make do with these. I do think they have just as much upside as any creature land far into the future, but the glut of supply will likely keep these down quite a bit for some time.
I would wait for these to come down, and grab some cheap copies if you need them. If you need them now, it’s not really a terrible price to buy at either.
Pre-Order Prices: $2.99 (Needle Spire) $3.99 (Hissing Quagmire)
The Rest of Mid Tier
Here we have a bunch of value creatures, many of them legendary. Many of these have more Commander applications than anything else, but there's some potential in Standard.
Sylvan Advocate is the closest to Tarmogoyf we’re going to get in a Standard format. I think it has a role in Standard as a highly efficient blocker for ramp decks. Becoming a large threat later on in the game is gravy.
Advocate is great pretty much at any stage of the game, and will be able to contend with basically every ground creature even into the late game.
I do think pre-order prices are a little high on this card. I don’t see it really surging in price considering what it has to contend with. I would for sure keep an eye on this card, and I don’t think its drawback condition is really that bad. It’s not hard to get six lands these days, and a conditional Tarmogoyf is still very strong.
Stone Haven Outfitter
Stone Haven Outfitter is as close as we’re ever going to get to Stoneforge Mystic and Puresteel Paladin. I don’t know where this card will end up, but maybe it will have some upside if Sheridan is right about Sword of the Meek getting an un-ban in Modern.
Until then, I think this is a near-bulk rare with some moderate upside. I don’t think this deserves to be dropped into the same pool as the purely junk rares, so I’ll keep it here.
Mina and Denn, Wildborn
Mina and Denn, Wildborn seem efficient enough. Legendary limits the upside of this card, but it’s still far from terrible.
This will likely have strong EDH/Commander applications. I saw an argument for its use in Scapeshift lists but I don’t put much credence in that idea. Maybe I’m wrong though, and I would like to discuss it further if need be.
I’m not really enamored with non-foil prices at this juncture, and will likely hold off. Foil prices do offer some upside for a card that's relevant in Commander.
Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim has the biggest upside within this group. It’s an aggressively costed body. It has several relevant abilities, all packed into a minimal investment of mana. The stipulations might not be the easiest to overcome, but they’re not insurmountable either.
Obviously this has caused a lot of stir in the EDH/Commander community, and rightfully so. It has all the qualities of a good card in that format, and the conditions are much easier to meet there.
As far as Constructed viability is concerned, I do think this has a place somewhere. Whether it be Rally decks or something else, I predict it will squeeze into Standard. In Modern it could breathe additional life into the Soul Sisters archetype, which would be great because I enjoy that archetype and it’s a good deck for players new to the format.
I don’t think the current pre-order prices are really that bad, but if you’re looking to pick them up at a later date I wouldn’t fault you. It will likely decline. Foils offer very good upside.
Jori En, Ruin Diver
Jori En, Ruin Diver is awesome. I really like the design, and I’m a sucker for a good blue-red merfolk. If there's any merfolk that makes current Fish decks consider splashing red, it would be this card.
The ability is much more relevant in eternal formats with access to cheaper spells and cantrips. In Modern where you have access to Gitaxian Probe, Lightning Bolt and Vapor Snag then suddenly the rate of success increases.
The chance of this card being played in Modern and Standard is non-zero, but it's tricky to tell how easy it will be to trigger. We will see.
The pre-order price isn’t that bad, and if you need them to play you're probably fine acquiring now. But, I think this has room to fall. In the meantime, the full art Game Day foils are beautiful and I would look to stash those for a rainy day.
Pre-order Prices: $1.99 (Ayali) $2.99 (Jori En) $1.49 (Mina and Denn) $0.99 (Stone Haven) $3.99 (Sylvan Advocate)
Low Tier Rares
There’s not much to say here, as usual. Now that Wizards releases so many of these cards in intro packs, event decks and as prerelease foils, there are fewer good, cheap targets for speculative purchases. Compounded by the assumed glut of rares due to the hunt for Expeditions, mediocre rares just don’t have a whole lot of upside.
Here are a few that might:
I think Zendikar Resurgent foils are the play here, but I can’t say the same for non-foil copies.
Additionally Hedron Alignment foils might be interesting. I would converse with Ryan Overturf on that card, because he has much more experience than I in Legacy.
That wraps up Oath of the Gatewatch. Hope you all enjoyed. Keep in mind that the BFZ block kicked off the new block structure cadence, and Magic investing will start to change as we go along. I along as others will be talking about all the implications as we go, but there will likely be some fundamental changes to the cyclical nature of investing and rotation.
I would focus on evaluating cards early for Constructed playability. As the rotation cycle speeds up, waiting for rotation won’t be as lucrative as before because each card's overall life in Standard will be shorter. So there will be an emphasis on getting in as early as possible.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Feel free to comment 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 missed my other financial set reviews you can find them here: