Insider: Top 10 Rotation Pick-Ups

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I started writing this article a couple weeks ago just to get my thoughts brewing on this topic. At that time, I was set to tout Chandra, Flamecaller as one of the best cards to invest in.

Within my schedule, I’ve had plenty of time to watch Magic videos and noted that a couple players were having success with her as their finisher. Notably Caleb Durward qualified for the Pro Tour at a Regional PTQ with Mardu Green running two copies maindeck.

Unfortunately, you all know she doubled her value around that time, but I still think she will be great in the new format. You can compare her to Elspeth, Sun's Champion because if you play her on an open board, it becomes difficult to lose that game.

Never fear though, I have plenty of other great cards for you to put your post-rotation faith in!

Honorable Mention

Colorless Lands

First up, I wanted to mention some colorless lands. With players needing to produce colorless mana but not needing to play actual Wastes, the stock of cards on this list should drastically increase. The problem with these lands is that most of them are uncommons, so they aren’t likely to accumulate much value.

A rare colorless land from Shadows over Innistrad (SOI) could generate a nice price tag. But for now, these are the cards I’d be looking to at least have a play set of to use or possibly trade.

Nissa, Vastwood Seer

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

We know Nissa is great. I think she might compete with the other version of herself for a spot in some decks though. With both cards costing the same amount of mana, it’s likely that a deck would only play one or the other.

You can have them in play at the same time as long as Vastwood Seer doesn’t flip though, so keep that in mind for deck construction. Ramp strategies might want to include her, as a possible elf deck might. I don’t think there are elves on Innistrad, but if they make an appearance, the green-black elf deck could come together.

Overall, I think a lot of things would have to go in her favor for Nissa to increase in value. Her Voice of Zendikar version seems more likely to double once she finds a home in the new format, especially if she’s in a tier one deck.

The Picks

10. Thunderbreak Regent

First up, we have Thunderbreak Regent. One of the best archetypes in Standard at various times have been dragon-based decks. Of these decks, one of the most brutal was the combination of Thunderbreak Regent and Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury to enable Draconic Roar.

That combination is still viable but may be paired with another color since that version of Kolaghan is rotating out of the format. We will see how the metagame shapes up, but the price memory for this dragon is $10. We could see this flyer approach that number again if the format shapes itself towards dragons.

9. Dragon Whisperer

Since this bear was spoiled, it has been on my radar. With the nature of Atarka Red decks, they weren’t looking for a solid creature like this, but in the new format you may find that whispering to dragons is a powerful thing to be doing.

Humans were a supported tribe the last time around too so that creature type might matter once again. It seems that Wizards is pushing the tribes of Innistrad a little harder this time, but we won’t know that for certain until we see the full spoiler in a couple weeks. Until then, this is another cheap target that should be easy to acquire.

For a two-mana creature, Whisperer has a ton of abilities. What I like best is that it’s fine as a two-mana 2/2, but for a one-mana investment, it gains evasion. Then, if you have extra mana you aren’t using, it becomes a great mana sink.

Finally, having your aggressive creature be a solid late-game draw is quite a boon. If you ever activate the formidable ability to put a 4/4 dragon into play, there is a high likelihood that you will be winning that game. You can even make a dragon every turn until your opponent is defeated!

There are play sets available for $6. What do you have to lose?

8. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

We all know Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is a powerhouse planeswalker in the same class as the top tier white planeswalkers. Based on how much time he’s spent in the spotlight already, Gideon is more like the ally of everyone. He’s not done yet though.

His current sticker price of $16 seems like the bottom for this highly successful defender of Zendikar. Despite the fact that this member of the Gatewatch has kept a healthy value so far, as a probable pillar of the new and promising Standard format, it seems likely that he will go back up toward the $25 range.

If you don’t have your Gideons yet, now seems like the best opportunity to get in before the new archetypes are established.

7. Exquisite Firecraft

In a world where five-toughness creatures are extinct, Exquisite Firecraft is king. Post-rotation, this burn spell is shaping up to be a big hitter. Between killing the large creatures of the format and getting flashed back with Goblin Dark-Dwellers, Firecraft is poised to grow in a big way.

Its current price tag is small enough that picking up an extra play set or two wouldn’t be a big deal, but the reward could be great. At close to $2 each, we won’t see this burn spell any cheaper than right now. This should be a $5 card for sure so don’t miss out on this easy pick up.

6. Matter Reshaper

It was my goal to put one of the cheap Eldrazi onto this list because I think all of these cards are great investments. Presumably after the Modern ban, these cards will drop even further in value, but Matter Reshaper is near the bottom of its valley.

The reason I love this guy as an investment is because I think he would be great in a variety of strategies. We’ve seen him in Collected Company decks, which look poised to be the front runner for best deck in the new format, but he’s also shown up in places like ramp and other aggro decks as well. As a 3/2 that replaces itself, many decks will be looking to play this guy.

Think of him alongside Hangarback Walker. Every deck could theoretically play both of those two creatures and then whatever other cards they wanted. With good removal like Utter End leaving the format, players will have to rely even more on their white cards like Silkwrap and Stasis Snare to stop an opponent from gaining too much value.

You don’t get much more value out of your guys than Matter Reshaper’s ability, so get your copies while they’re at their lowest point. This little Eldrazi is hovering around $2, but I expect that to change quickly once players stop opening Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) and switch their focus to SOI.

One possible financial aspect to consider is that players may go back to hunting for Expeditions in Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) and OGW. We haven’t seen this much before. It happened a little with Khans of Tarkir when players were revved up for opening fetches and foil fetches.

Once players have gotten what they need from our new Innistrad installment, I think it’s a real possibility that we see more of the Zendikar sets being opened than a normal set would. Keep this possibility in mind for your financial endeavors.

5. Abbot of Keral Keep

The more time passes, the more I grow to love Abbot of Keral Keep. With this red creature, we have a card that is playable in multiple formats but hasn’t broken out yet. Just from Standard alone, Abbot has seen play in multiple archetypes and I suspect that will continue post-rotation.

This card advantage generator is fine on turn two if you have no other plays, turn three to hit your land drop, or any point after that to get a free extra card. We all knew this was good, but expect it to see even more play in the new format. Many of these Magic Origins (ORI) cards are a great investment, and Abbot definitely fits the bill.

4. Drana, Liberator of Malakir

Drana, Liberator of Malakir fits into two important tribes: vampire and ally. At this point, since there is no working allies deck, that bet seems unlikely to pay off, but the vampire tribe could make her an all-star.

Throughout her time in Standard so far, I have played this flyer a lot. Her nemesis was clearly the overpowered Mantis Rider. Without that vigilance flyer in the skies, Drana will be the queen above them all. She was always a must-kill threat. Similar to Steel Overseer in Affinity, if you get one activation that is typically devastating to your opponent.

Since her release, I have had Drana priced at or above the TCG Mid price point. Currently her price tag reads $8 and my store credit buy price has been $6 for a while now. Despite these numbers, which according to Trader Tools matches the highest current buy price, players don’t want to trade in the card at that price.

She has been a popular card in our metagame and players in my area know how amazing she is based on in-game experiences. One player in particular has been tweaking the Hardened Scales deck with Abzan colors just to fit Drana into the deck.

Drana is a great investment right now. Her spread as well as the sales record I’ve had for her is good evidence to support a seemingly inevitable price increase. The lynch pin for me is that her vampire creature type seems like it will be quite valuable when paired with the new cards.

3. Liliana, Heretical Healer

There was an error retrieving a chart for Liliana, Heretical Healer

One thing I learned from ORI is that the flavor of the flip planewalkers translated into positive sales for that card type. I think this will also follow to Arlinn Kord, the werewolf planeswalker, as well as the other playable flip cards.

Now that players are used to the idea of double-faced cards, they have become a novel, popular type of card. Players think they are neat, which means less casual players sell them, which translates into higher price averages.

This concept is most highlighted for me with Nissa, Vastwood Seer and Liliana, Heretical Healer. These two cards are other examples of cards I’ve priced especially high just to keep them in stock. My buy prices on these two cards have also been excessively high.

What sets them apart is certainly the archetypes they fit into. Liliana is a bit more likely to fit into any deck with black mana, but I think there is a good possibility there will be a new sacrifice deck which make her a necessity rather than a fringe card. If she is already $15, imagine if she were seeing play as a four-of like Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. If that happens, her price will definitely go way up.

There’s no gimmick driving sales for ORI, yet it is still the most valuable set in Standard. You might say that the flip planeswalkers drove the sales and that is true up until there were Expeditions to dream about, but that hype was short lived. In terms of luck in opening packs, it’s more likely that you win the Jace lottery than the Expedition lottery. Players haven’t been thinking like that though and so there is less Magic Origins than there should be.

2. Risen Executioner

Zombies matter. While I’ve been working on this article, Risen Executioner has already shown gains to remind us that zombies are popular and players want that tribe to succeed.

In the past, one aggressive archetype has surfaced as the clear winner. That means that it’s likely that either zombies or vampires will have more tools and therefore be a stronger deck. This will most likely generate the demand for more sales and carry one of the two much higher. I do suspect that there is room for growth with both creature types though.

Risen Executioner is already a winner. Hopefully you got your copies already because they were $2-$3 instead of the $5 they are now, but if not, I still think there is time to make money.

We have already seen Relentless Dead spoiled so we know that there is at minimum one amazing zombie to pair with Executioner. There will definitely be more zombies printed in the set and with the base of those two cards, I think there is a possible deck already brewing. Risen Executioner is a lord, has a relevant ability, and his stats are quite solid as well.

He has doubled in price already, but I think he could double up another time. I’m holding my copies until we see the full spoiler and then I will make the decision of whether it’s right to move or hold.

That’s my suggestion for the next couple weeks as well. Players will likely be eager to trade these cards at the new price, but I would be seeking to acquire more copies as cheaply as possible.

1. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

There was an error retrieving a chart for Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

If you didn’t look ahead, you may be surprised to see Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy as my number one pick for your pre-rotation pick up. There are many financial reasons why Jace is still a great target. Undoubtedly, this is a large investment, but the financial rewards will be there. Let’s look at the evidence to support this claim.

Attending Grand Prix Detroit gave me some firsthand experience to see how other dealers were approaching the situation. From inspecting the onsite buy prices, it was clear that other dealers were buying Jace as highly as I was and they wanted as many copies as they could get. The buy prices for this card were competitive between the booths as well.

Dealers don’t often buy a card at a high percentage unless it is trending upward. That’s a great piece of evidence and it helped solidify my stance that he has more room to grow.

The second piece of evidence I wish to submit is pedigree. We know that the first planeswalker to break out and destroy all financial expectations was Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I think this makes it more likely that this Jace will be the second one. You may think that is already a fact and not a possibility, but he hasn’t been much more than the normal $50 ceiling for typical Standard cards and I think his future trajectory will solidify his mold-breaking prowess.

Next up is the format we are going into. One of, if not the primary, abilities in the new Innistrad block is madness. This ability is enabled by discard outlets. Although there will be more, we already have a broken discard outlet available to us in Jace. Fiery Temper has been spoiled as a card in the set and there will be other great cards that become more potent with a mana discount.

You may not see Fiery Temper as Lightning Bolt, but if you don’t yet, you will once Standard takes form. There are many great blue-red cards to pair with these two and I expect that to be a great deck in the format. Even if the deck relies solely on that interaction, the potency it adds to your deck is worth the deck construction constraints.

Finally, if those examples weren’t enough, I should mention his viability in older formats. We have seen him show up in Grixis Control and Goryo's Vengeance Reanimator in Modern. Now this Jace is being spotted in Legacy and even Vintage lists. In these older formats it’s even easier to get five cards in your graveyard to flip him on turn three and flashback a spell.

One instance from a cube draft I held this past weekend shows how easy it is to flip him. My board evolved as first turn land, and then second turn Jace. On my third turn I cast Frantic Search, Preordain, then looted with Jace and flipped him.

Due to that sequence, I was then able to flashback Preordain and still hold up Entomb! You can imagine the surprise of my friends who were watching the game, looked away for a moment, and then saw my hand explode with all different cards.

There is a lot of evidence to support my claim that Jace, Vryn's Prodigy will continue to increase in price. I suspect that once he takes his place dictating the way the format evolves that he will jump from his current price to above $100. His current price may be a lot to invest in, but this is a card you can use in every format and he’s going nowhere but up.

Wrap Up

You’ll note that most of my recommendations are from Magic Origins and Dragons of Tarkir. These two sets have been out the longest, so their cards have the most potential for a price bump. While this is a normal rotation topic, we are not used to this rotation schedule yet so it bears repeating.

Once we get into the flow of this rotation schedule it will become normal to have these rotations twice a year, but right now the time is right for making some money on your investments. For me, I shelled out my own money for many of these picks. The ones I didn’t throw down on are cards I already have a solid stock of currently.

Make sure you are prepared and if there are other cards you think are likely to go up in value, share your thoughts in the comments.

Until next time,
Unleash the Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

8 thoughts on “Insider: Top 10 Rotation Pick-Ups

  1. I’m skeptical of the top two picks. The more I’ve thought about it, I tend to agree that Risen Executioner is one of the worst zombie lords. 4 mana, can’t block, 4/3, are not the best stats for a zombie lord. Playing him from the graveyard late game doesn’t seem like a good possibility without somehow removing creatures from the graveyard, especially in a zombie deck. The only good thing is the +1/+1 for zombies, but I’m not sure this will be enough.

    I would really love for Jace to be $100+ so I can sell the two I still have (though it’s making the two I traded for a Tarmogoyf last November starting to look like a bad trade). I think that madness will at least cause his price to stay similar, and if he dominates at the pro tour he will get a large boost, but a lot of others have been mentioning that fetches are leaving, which will make it harder to flip him early.

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