Hey there! You've probably read a lot about Conspiracy up until hitting this article, haven't you? You've listened to the Cartel Aristocrats talk about it for almost an hour, and you've read several articles on the expectations of all the spicy reprints and potentially format warping new cards. You know exactly when to buy those Burgeonings, and to look out for the foil multiplier on those lesser known Commander powerhouses. You are 100% ready to wring every possible cent out of this cash cow that Wizards of the Coast has delivered unto us from the heavens above. But what about the small stuff? People will crack their boxes, accumulate their draft chaff... six months down the road, you'll be seeing piles of picked Conspiracy: Take the Crown. Are you prepared to deal with that? Boxes full of 5,000 random reprints and Un-set mechanics? You will be after reading this article. We'll take a brief look at the original Conspiracy, compare it to the lottery tickets people are about to go Berserk over, and then I'll let you know my thoughts on the dimes and nickels you want to be pulling from draft chaff.
To start with, here's a list of the top buylistable commons and uncommons from Conspiracy 2014. If you look closely, you can see a certain card type distinctly absent.
Barring Deathreap Ritual and Tyrant's Choice, none of the above cards listed are new cards from the set. To be fair, the number of overall common and uncommon reprints vastly outweighs the number of original cards. There's another layer I was getting at though; None of the "draft matters" cards actually, well, mattered. Outside of drafts. Cogwork Librarian and friends are practically unbuylistable, at least at non-foil. There's also only one "votes matter" card, suggesting that there aren't a whole ton of casual players building multiplayer vote decks. While Swords to Plowshares and Brainstorm will nearly always be picked out before the bulk gets to us, there are still some significant quarters that competitive players will ignore or shrug off as "reprinted too many times to matter."
So how will the sequel hold up in this niche market? There's definitely a higher concentration of competitive commons and uncommons that will be picked up in drafts and bindered before they reach the "chaff" status; Beast Within, Ghostly Prison, Deceiver Exarch, Serum Visions.... these will be the Brainstorms and STPs of the set. While it will be a pleasant surprise to receive bulk that includes these, I don't expect them to be frequent fliers. Even though Prison is more of a "casual" card, it's still well known throughout the competitive circuit for its' use in lower tiered Enchantress lists, and as old sideboard tech vs Twin.
Here's my current list of commons and uncommons that I'm looking to pick from the set; reprints and new cards alike.
Guardian of the Gateless
Illusion of Choice
Thorn of the Black Rose
The first thing I noticed was that this list is smaller than the complete list of picks in the original Conspiracy. That Trader Tools list extended a few more picks below Skeletal Scrying, for a total of 24 cards that were worth at least $.10 to a vendor on Trader Tools. While we don't have data on cards from the new set just yet, my list ends at 19 cards. There's a smaller concentration of "pickables," although the ceiling for those picks is certainly greater (Prison, Visions, Beast Within).
It's also entirely possible that I'm putting too much faith in the Monarch mechanic, thanks to its legality in Pauper and other Eternal formats. I'm still going to be picking out the above "monarchy" cards and crossing my fingers, but they might end up being duds like the "draft matters" cards are going to be. Out of all the monarchy Commander non-rares, I have the most faith in Marchesa's Decree making it into Rakdos/Orzhov pillow fort/group slug type decks, like Mogis, God of Slaughter. If that's the case, than the number of buylistable cards is reduced even further, until you're pretty much left with a few dime and quarter possibilities. It's possible that Queen Marchesa herself supports some of her common/uncommon subjects, similar to how the original Marchesa gives her Smuggler a reason to be non-bulk.It's also possible that the amount of product opened due to the initial expected value of the set will crush the value of the buylist picks for several months to come, leaving us with only a few obvious picks that everyone else will also pick up on.
Considering I often deal with bulk commons and uncommons, I received a question recently that's actually what sparked this article. Someone asked me if I would stay away from bulk commons and uncommons from this set, due to the "draft matters" cards that were unplayable in other formats. These "Reveal X as you draft me" cards are completely useless to the casual players who make up a large portion of my customer base, so it made sense for me to avoid sets that contained useless cards. It made me wonder how many draft matters cards were actually in the first Conspiracy set, and whether that number had considerably risen for the sequel. During the spoiler season, it certainly felt like there were a lot more cards that required note-taking, revealing during the draft, or some sort of mechanic that would add complexity to the draft itself. As it turns out, there are only two more draft matters cards in Conspiracy 2 compared to the first set. Conspiracy had 25 cards of this nature, but all of them were either artifacts, conspiracies, or land (Paliano, the High City). This time, they're scattered throughout all colors and spread out evenly in terms of rarity, making it feel like there are a lot more. I'm perfectly happy buying up Conspiracy bulk, even if the concentration of pickable commons and uncommons is lower this time. Bulk is bulk is bulk, and I'll be happy to buy it at $3 per thousand.
So what are your thoughts on this set? Don't tell me what you think of Sanctum Prelate or Inquisition of Kozilek; let's hear your thoughts on the unsung commons and uncommons. What are you going to be picking off the draft tables in two weeks? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @Rose0fthorns. Thanks for reading!