You knew this was going to happen. Search your heart — you know you weren’t really surprised to hear the news that Wizards is going to repeat their cash cow experiment and sew it into the fabric of Magic’s design. We know how great Expeditions were. Most of us enjoyed opening packs again, or at least owners used to opening product to sell singles found their fun again. Were you lucky enough to open one in sealed or draft? I probably won’t ever forget being able to splash red in my sealed pool thanks to an Expedition Stomping Ground. The inclusion of Mina and Denn, Wildborn in that sealed deck led me to victory in the tournament and it was a ton of fun to play with such a cool card in Limited.
So obviously Wizards is going to repeat this phenomenon. Maybe we thought it would be a once-in-a-while thing and in a couple years they would do it again, but if we’re honest with ourselves we knew this was coming. I was surprised for a moment when I read that this was going to be a normal rarity in every set, but that faded quickly. For Kaladesh we are getting Inventions, which are artifacts with a new intricate border similar to the Expeditions. The overarching rarity will be a step above Mythic and will be called the Masterpiece series.
My initial impression of the Masterpiece series was that the subsequent sets wouldn’t be as popular as the initial experiment. After all, we all know that all the money is in your lands. Everyone needs lands, but not everyone needs these shiny artifacts. From my perspective, I was hyped about all of the Expedition lands because I would include them in my Cube. Since I have no immediate use for most of these new cards, my excitement wasn’t as high this time around.
Luckily for the finance community, the success of this series isn’t based on my opinion or need for these cards. The community is hyped for this concept in future sets and is definitely pumped for the artifacts that are coming out in a couple weeks.
Some initial pricing is already available online and those presale numbers look very similar to the layout of the Oath of the Gatewatch Expeditions. My expectation going forward is that most will follow this pattern and there will be only a couple of high-end cards over $100, while the majority of the other cards in the series should fall in the $50-$80 range. There will always be some cards at the low end as well.
One important fact about Kaladesh is that the price trajectory of the rares will be very limited and the mythics will have a lower cap as well. Here’s a good way to understand the limits the Inventions will have on the prices of singles: Battle for Zendikar only has one card with a two-digit price and that’s Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Gideon is a hugely popular card for many player groups and is one of the best cards in the format, but even other great cards from the set are just not worth a lot of money.
For a while, Oath was a little better, sporting Chandra, Flamecaller, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar all expensive cards to support the set. Now Kalitas has stabilized as the only solidly double-digit card, while Kozilek's Return tries to keep its head above the $10 watermark.
This will directly apply to Chandra, Torch of Defiance and we will put this principle to the test. Even with how amazing “Chandra, the Mind Sculptor” seems and with how many decks she will be in, everyone is going to open so much product that she shouldn’t be able to sustain that type of peak price. She might be able to hold her top dollar value initially but once the floodgates of packs are opened, she will start coming down in price. The same goes for every other single in the set.
That’s enough about price theory and future trends. Let’s look at some more spoilers!
First up are Gearhulks, or should I say Mechs? Or maybe Gear Titans? No matter which way you phrase it, these mechanical mythics are going to stomp their way through the metagame.
Last week I mentioned the white card in this cycle: Cataclysmic Gearhulk. I think it’s going to be very good and probably so much so that we will be sick of playing against it. Vigilance on this 4/5 is a great addition to the clearing the board ability. You should be able to put your opponent into positions with no good blocks fairly easily with this card.
The others in the cycle are similarly great. First up is the next in the color pie: Torrential Gearhulk. It may seem innocent to some, but this mech will be flashing itself in your way frequently. First of all, the 5/6 body is bigger than almost anything else you’ll face in Standard so it can ambush things easily.
Secondly, and most importantly, this is Snapcaster Mage again but built for Standard. You get to cast an instant so you are a little more limited with your choice of cards to cast for free, but you can still reuse your Counterspell or removal spell. You may not see this as a four-of card in any deck because most decks don’t need that many six-cost cards, but I think this creature will impact the format.
Our new black titan is Noxious Gearhulk and this guy looks tough. You get to destroy another creature when he comes into play and then once the blockers are limited, he has Menace as well to avoid being blocked. Did I mention you also gain life equal to the toughness of the creature you destroyed? This may seem like another creature from a Commander-driven card design but this is closer to a titan than something like Sepulchral Primordial. I had to research the name of that card if that tells you how much play it saw in Standard.
Combustable Gearhulk seems like a high risk, high reward style of card. We start out with the best stats at 6/6 and add First Strike to the huge body which allows you to block and attack through nearly anything the format has to offer. After that we get to basically Browbeat our opponent every time. Do they allow you to draw three cards or potentially take a double digit hit to their life total? Neither is a winning proposition. I like this guy a lot and I look forward to playing him. I’d imagine if players try to utilize this mech it will be only as a one or two-of, but playing against it is going to take some skill.
Verdurous Gearhulk is the smallest of the cycle but only if you make an army instead of one giant monster. At this point, we don’t know which mode will be best, but either an 8/8 trample or pumping other creatures +4/+4 seems very powerful. It's also worth noting he is only five mana instead of six, which has a lot to do with how good he is.
The green Gearhulk may seem like Wolfir Silverheart, but I think there’s a lot more strategy to it than when we slammed Silverheart and just attacked with giant dudes.
One of the best parts about the Gearhulk cycle is that each of their abilities trigger when they enter the battlefield. This is important not only for Nahiri, the Harbinger’s ultimate but also for any blink effects that may see play as well. This cycle is preselling for $5-$6 for each individual card and I think the Inventions cycle should push them even a bit lower than that.
One of the most impactful Eternal staples that will come from this set is the innocent looking Ceremonious Rejection. This blue spell is a one mana colorless Counterspell that will counter nearly anything from two of Modern’s most formitable foes. Both Tron and Affinity should have a huge weakness to this card and I expect every blue sideboard to be packing some number of this spell for the foreseeable future. Track down those foils too because their multiplier should be quite lucrative.
My plan was to tell you all about my preorder price plan which was above that of everyone else online for the new Fastlands. Inventions threw a wrench into that price projection and I’ve now lowered my preorder prices for these lands as well as basically everything else in the set to at or below all the other online prices.
Here are the current prices for the original Scars of Mirrodin Fastlands.
Before Wizards changed the rarity layout of sets with their announcement about the Masterpiece Series, I thought that our new five lands in this cycle would follow a similar price trend. We’d have most of the lands at the same price and then the blue-red one, Spirebluff Canal, sitting above the others.
That may still happen, but the average price will be much lower than where I thought they would reach. I think $4-$5 is reasonable for most of them to sustain just like the Battle Lands have mostly stabilized at. I think the Izzet land will still be higher especially if blue red has a playable deck in Standard to go along with it.
Lastly, I wanted to update some information about Nissa, Vital Force from last week’s article. I think I may have been a bit hasty with my conclusion about her being overvalued. Here’s what I missed and maybe you did too.
With her +1 ability, I was thinking this could only be used for attacking your opponent. But the reality is you get to keep your land as a 5/5 until your next turn if you so choose. So, if needed, she can defend herself. This is only temporary, but temporary is still better than not at all. You can beat down with your 5/5 land but you can also keep it back to take out one of their guys that attack into Nissa.
The -3 hasn’t changed much in my opinion yet. You still get a limited form of Eternal Witness and that is still a solid ability. I think it’s situational, but still useful.
The key part of the puzzle that I undervalued was the ultimate. The cost to ultimate New Nissa is only -6! That means that as long as you can defend her for one measly turn, you can ultimate her the next turn! Then, every land you play turns into an extra card. That’s a huge difference from what I thought about her last week. For some reason, I thought that her ultimate cost more loyalty but at -6 you are threatening a powerful ultimate every time you cast her.
Until next time,
Unleash the Force of Kaladesh!
MtgJedi on Twitter