Insider: Finding Value in the Moon

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"That's no moon. It's an Eldrazi."

"It's too big to be an Eldrazi."

"I have a bad feeling about this..."

I think we need to stop and ask ourselves one critical question: Why are moons always trying to kill us?

If it isn't the Death Star, it's Emrakul. And if it isn't some plane-destroying Eldrazi, it's a damn Tidal Wave. Don't even get me started on the grotesque evil that is Blood Moon... One thing is for certain---moons are completely out of control and pose the greatest threat to humanity the world has ever known.

The full spoiler for Eldritch Moon is complete and we are just a few days out from partaking in prerelease party time. I've found myself looking forward to the release for the past few weeks for a variety of reasons:

  1. Standard has been beyond stale for the past month and is in desperate need of some shaking up.
  2. I prefer drafting formats with two sets as opposed to three packs of the same set.
  3. All things considered the set looks pretty interesting and has some cool cards.

In today's article I'm going to take a look at where I think the good value cards in Eldritch Moon are. These are the cards I believe have the best chance of maintaining or gaining value.

Looking for Cheese in the Moon

One thing I noticed right out of the gate when I started checking presale prices was that the asking prices seemed kind of steep for the "good cards" in the set. More often than not that is to be expected with presale prices, since there will never be more demand for these cards than there is right now before the set releases.
We all know the drill. New set, prices are high, people open millions of packs, prices come down.

What's amazing is that despite the fact that the game is completely stacked against single cards maintaining, let alone gaining, value, some cards beat all odds and go up. These cards are truly Han Soloesque in thumbing their collective noses at "the odds."

Anyway, what I like to do is try and predict which cards in a set are going to be the "devil may care" odds breakers and get ahold of as many copies as I can.

I'm generally looking for those few unique cards that I believe can sustain or gain value after the initial "new set hype" has worn off. Not always the sexiest picks, but these are the kinds of cards that people undervalue but ultimately want to own. I've got five of them for you today.

Estimating Prices

One thing that I like to do when I'm predicting prices is to guess what I think the price of the new cards will be before I look at the presale prices. I like to look at a specific card and evaluate what price point I see that card settling into in a month or two once people have had a chance to crack packs for a while.

For instance, when I looked at Gideon, Ally of Zendikar I estimated it would be a $15-20 Standard-only card. When I saw it was preselling for $40 I could confidently say it wasn't a good investment card because it almost certainly couldn't sustain that high price tag.

However, sometimes there are cards where I guess the "settled-in price" and it is lower than the presale price. These tend to be the cards I target because they feel cheap. If I'm going to trade for extra cards to hold onto I'd rather get those kinds of cards than ones that are likely to drop a ton of value quickly.

So, my picks are rarely the big sexy flashy mythics that are obviously the most impactful cards in the set but rather the kinds of cards that people tend to overlook that are just solid Magic cards. Enough about the process, more about the picks.

Sigarda's Aid

Sigardas Aid

SCG is preselling at $2.99. I predicted the tag on this card would be between $5-$6 for presale and that it would settle into the $3 range and ultimately be a good long-term gainer. $3 seems too low especially for a presale price on this card.

For starters, the card is extremely unique. It does a ton of weird and interesting stuff. And it only costs one mana.

The card generates mana. It is mana specific to paying an equip cost but mana nonetheless. The other insanely cool thing this card does is that it makes all your equipment become combat tricks.

I attack with my Grizzly Bears. You block with your creature. I flash in an equipment like Brassknuckles of Pwn and make my creature win in combat.

This ability doesn't care if you cast the equipment. So, I could use Stoneforge Mystic to put Batterskull onto the battlefield and then attach the Batterskull directly to my True-Name Nemesis. Not saying this is a Legacy card but it is worth noting that if you cheat an equipment into play the "free attach" still applies.

Last but not least, it also gives auras flash as well. The card is clearly better with equipment (because it makes mana) but there might also be some spicy auras you want to play. It is worth noting that you can use defensive auras like Control Magic or Pacifism at instant speed with Sigarda's Aid.

This will be an auto-include in every casual or Commander equipment deck from now until forever. Very unique and very awesome. It feels like the kind of card you could actually build a competitive deck around. I feel strongly about this card being a good long- and short-term gainer.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow


I may be partially blinded by my own personal enjoyment of this card but I felt that sub-$3 prices on TCG and $4 on SCG presale felt very low. I'm usually very close on predicting presale prices and I thought this card was going to be closer to $8 or $10. I could have seen it settling into a $4 price tag but to be preselling there felt very low to me.

First of all, I think this is a very above-average Magic card. I'm typically drawn to excellent constructed cards by virtue of having played Magic forever. I see certain cards and make the connection to others that have been good in the past. Ishkanah has elements of Cloudgoat Ranger and Siege-Gang Commander, two Constructed powerhouses in their day.

Grim Flayer is preselling for between $10-15 and that card stinks if you aren't consistently unlocking the achievement of delirium. So, in order to assume that card is playable we have to assume that delirium is a reasonable thing to get with consistency.

If delirium is reasonable to achieve, Ishkanah is a good card. Five mana for a 3/5 and three 1/2's, all with reach, is a great deal. That is a lot of bodies and a lot of the ability to block creatures in the sky. The flying spirit tribe got a bunch of crazy cards in this set, and I expect flying to be an important ability in this Standard, so that makes Ishkanah look even better.

Note that the drain ability is not irrelevant as it gives you a way to win without ever having to attack. Not a bad clause on a wall-like creature that makes three other good blockers.

I also think this card has style and flavor. I used to have a Xira Arien "pests"-themed Commander deck. I picked Xira because she had the creature type insect even though I didn't really want red cards. I will probably hunt down a foil Ishkanah and build a Golgari-themed Commander deck. I may have to keep Xira since the combination of Dragonlair Spider and Ishkanah fighting side by side is almost too tempting to pass up...

I think this card will see Standad play in GBx Delirium. It has uniqueness and casual appeal. It's better than $3.

Noose Constrictor

Noose Constrictor

SCG has this uncommon preselling at $0.25---and it has a pretty reasonable chance of being the standout uncommon of the set.

First of all, Wild Mongrel dominated Standard back in the day. Yes, times were different, but Mongrel was crazy-good. And Constrictor is a straight upgrade to everybody's favorite pup because we've now added reach! I've actually had to reread the spoiler like ten times because I'm having a hard time believing this card actually exists!

I think all of the reach cards may be an indicator that the spirit tribe will be a big deal. This bodes well for Constrictor as it does for Ishkanah. I've been playing Noose Constrictor in my Bant Collected Company deck and really enjoying it.

It's pretty cute that it's hard to kill with a Dromoka's Command when you are on the draw against the Sylvan Advocate-into-Command hand. It's also a good target for your own Dromoka's Commands in situations where they might respond to your Command with their own Command.

I see this being a Silkwrap-type card in the short term. There is also a chance this card has Modern applications.

Stitcher's Graft


Okay, this is by far my loosest pick of the five, but I think it still has some merits. The card is basically a junk rare, selling for about $0.40 on TCG. So, not really much risk.

The big thing about this card is that it pairs really, really nicely with Stone Haven Outfitter.

I know this because I've built a lot of Stone Haven Outfitter decks for Standard. I believe Outfitter is the most powerful card in Standard that hasn't found a home yet. I've actually written about the card as a spec target before so it is kind of cool to see the card get a new equipment.

I don't think Stitcher's Graft is going to tear Standard apart right now. But there's a chance that post-rotation (especially if a possibly artifact-heavy Kaladesh brings more toys) a card like Stone Haven could become a real player.

Back to Graft. So, it is pretty sweet that the drawback of having to sacrifice your creatures to move the equipment is negated by drawing a card off Outfitter. You can also circumvent the "no untap" clause by attaching it to a creature with vigilance (like Avacyn) or a creature you intend to block with repeatedly.

One to cast and two to equip is a very cheap rate for +3/+3 if you can negate the drawbacks. It is also a nice way to sacrifice a creature like Hangarback Walker or flip your Archangel Avacyn while protecting another creature from her flip trigger. I also wouldn't mind equipping Nissa's plant tokens with this sucker.

The drawback isn't as big as it appears. First of all, the equipped creature doesn't untap only if it attacked. So, if you tap an equipped Hangarback Walker to put a +1/+1 counter on itself it will still untap as normal.

If you do attack, the creature doesn't untap during your next untap step but it will untap on the following turn. Everybody I've talked to about this card seems to have misread it and thinks the creature stays locked down forever, which isn't true.

You can also use a card like Bounding Krasis to untap a creature tapped down with this equipment. There is a lot you can do with this card just because the rate is so outrageous and the downside is so easily negligible. I think this card is actively great and much better than a bulk rare!

Collective Defiance


Last but not least, Collective Defiance.

Red is bad right now. It did get a sorcery-speed Incinerate but generally speaking this format is likely to be about green-white decks and maybe GBx control decks. It is not a good time to be a red mage...

Red right now reminds me of an expansion sports team. It has some nice pieces going for it but there is no way it can compete with Golden State or Cleveland in their prime. Maybe when some of those pieces retire and some of your draft picks mature it'll be your day to shine, Hometown Red Deck.

One of those shiny pieces is likely to be Collective Defiance. All of the modes on the card are fine and the fact you can team up, er, escalate and get more than one mode is pretty sweet.

Red cards are so contextual when it comes to price. Exquisite Firecraft was a $12 card at one point. It all depends on whether the red deck is good and which rares it plays.

So, being that the red deck is likely unplayable right now I think the tag on Defiance is suppressed for the time being. After many of the insane format-defining cards from Origins and Dragons rotate out, assuming red gets some help in Kaladesh, a card like Collective Defiance could easily jump up into the $5+ range as players clamor to reacquire the copies they traded away at fifty cents each.

Focus on the Boring Cards

Well, we didn't get to talk about the flashiest cards in the set---but that isn't really my strategy when it comes to MTG speculation. I'm looking strictly for the cards that have the best price tag-to-"how good it is" ratio. Today we looked at five new Eldritch Moon cards that I believe are likely to maintain or gain value down the road despite presale hype.

Lastly, I'd like to Apollo-gise for the excessive moon bashing at the beginning of the article. Eldritch Moon looks like it might be the first moon in a long time that isn't a total jerk.

"Where shall I drape this wet, primitive Earth Towel?"


Enjoy the prerelease and GL!

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