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Insider: Long Shot Specs #1

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Welcome back, readers! Today's topic will cover some "long shot" speculations---cards with potential that haven't shown it yet, or that did but then were forgotten or eclipsed.

Magic has existed for 23 years now. WoTC has printed a lot of unique cards in this time span. It's not always hard to spot a card with a lot of potential (some might remember how Star City Games couldn't keep Jace, the Mind Sculptor in stock when they started preselling them at $25). But plenty of times a card flies under the radar only to blow up later, oftentimes when it combos with a new card like we saw with Allosaurus Rider and Eldritch Evolution.

Today's article will focus on the long shots. Cards that for the most part have been under $2 their whole lives (we'll exclude pre-sell prices because those often come crashing down shortly after release). These will be in no particular order of likelihood.

Sunscour


So far all of the free spell cycle from Coldsnap have had gains save this one. As I just mentioned we saw Allosaurus Rider jump up when Eldritch Evolution was spoiled. Before that both Soul Spike and Fury of the Horde saw spikes related to older versions of Grishoalbrand. Commandeer has just been steadily growing over the years as an excellent Commander card. But the white version hasn't ever really caught on.

I know what you're thinking. Decks that want to play this type of wrath effect need their cards (and they rarely have two extra white cards just hanging around). But when you think about the speed of Modern, there are plenty of archetypes that just unload their hands ASAP, and sometimes control decks can't survive to cast a wrath. Sunscour seems like a fantastic card to help any Modern "tap out" style control decks get past the initial onslaught from their aggro opponents.

As for finding those extra white cards to pitch, how about Squadron Hawk, which dominated Standard in the Cawblade era. Hawk can enable you to cast Sunscour on turn two or three at no card disadvantage, in addition to all the traditional benefits it presents a blue-white control deck. I have 15 copies of Sunscour myself.

Skaab Ruinator


Those who didn't play when Innistrad first came out likely didn't see all the pros gushing over the power level of this card. It originally started out on par with Geist of Saint Traft at around $15. It never found a home in Standard and quickly plummeted to bulk rare status.

The current Modern Dredge decks seem pretty finely tuned, but this card does offer potential there, triggering Prized Amalgam and providing a massive body with evasion in the process. This card is highly unique, and could also form part of some new combo deck with the right printing.

It only has one printing at mythic in Innistrad so there's a good bit of potential should it go up. In fact, it's already up by about 40% from its previous low. It seems to have stabilized currently around $1.30-$1.40 so the floor isn't much lower. I've been hoarding these for several years now and am currently sitting on around 20, so I've put my money where my mouth is on this one.

Drogskol Reaver


This was another card that started out in the $10 range and quickly plummeted to near bulk. It was just too expensive (mana-wise) during it's Standard tenure and hasn't seemed to catch on a ton in Commander.

The reason I like this right now is due heavily to the printing of Aetherflux Reservoir in Kaladesh. With both in play every spell you play cantrips (thanks to Drogskol drawing cards whenever you gain life).

He's also a mythic from Dark Ascension, a smaller middle set that didn't have the big splashy cards like its predecessor Innistrad. I have 11 copies of this one as I've been collecting them for awhile.

Beck // Call


Glimpse of Nature is banned in Modern (granted it's never really had a chance to shine, so I could see WoTC unbanning it, but that's a story for another day). The Beck half of this card serves as a decent Glimpse of Nature replacement. There were a lot of people excited when this card was first spoiled and it started out as a $4 card before plummeting to bulk status.

Glimpse is most notably played in Legacy Elves decks, but many of the Elves in that deck are Modern-playable and currently Modern Elves is a Tier 2 deck. I have personally tried playing the deck with the blue splash for Beck // Call and Intruder Alarm but it never really panned out. Now there's an even odder version with the new card Brain in a Jar (the way Jar is worded you can cast both halves of fuse cards as long as you could cast one).

That deck seems pretty fringe, but the point is that Beck did get better when Shadows over Innistrad came out but the price never moved. It's also from Dragon's Maze, a low-value set in the first place that didn't get drafted a lot. I have a lot of copies of this card thanks to picking up a lot of bulk rares.

Magus of the Candelabra


This guy is nowhere near as powerful as Candelabra of Tawnos, but it does provide the same ability even if one turn slower thanks to summoning sickness. Being mono-green helps (the best color in Commander and mono-colored for the widest inclusion in decks). The point is with lands that produce more than one mana he can really ramp you quickly. He's also a rare from Time Spiral which came out almost ten years ago.

I like him as a Commander speculation target, though he hasn't really shown up yet (and there are plenty of ways for green to make its lands produce more than one mana). I wouldn't suggest going too deep, but all it takes is one hot new Commander deck that wants him and he's suddenly a $10 card. I only have two of this card currently.

Damping Matrix


Some of you may recall that Brian DeMars mentioned this card months ago as a potential target. So far it hasn't come true, but the ability for any deck to shut off creature and artifact abilities in Modern for three mana is nothing to sneeze at.

Granted most of the time players solve the artifact problem with Stony Silence, which at two mana comes down sooner than Damping Matrix and stops mana abilities. However, the Matrix doesn't require you to play white, which means other decks can gain the ability to turn off Affinity decks and a good number of pieces of the Tron deck.

That one extra mana also lets you turn off creature abilities, which will stop Abzan Company from comboing off (as it shuts off Viscera Seer). It is also a good way to stop Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker shenanigans.

I always try to keep good Modern hoser cards on my radar, as all it takes is for them to show up in a few sideboards at a major event and suddenly every competitive player is looking for them. It doesn't hurt that this card has only a single printing from Mirrodin (which came out 13 years ago).

Mass Hysteria


Another solid Mirrodin card, this one is aimed more as a Commander speculation target than a Modern one. A lot of people don't know that Concordant Crossroads is almost $6 entirely due to Commander demand. That card is older and in a better color, which explains the higher price.

That being said, giving all creatures haste for one mana is a powerful ability (which is why it affects everyone unlike, say, Fervor). This card needs a powerful red commander that either wants to attack ASAP (and can't) or that wants a highly aggressive deck built around him/her.

Pulse of the Fields


Pulse was printed one time back in Darksteel, 12 years ago. It has seen play in Legacy before (helping UWx control decks fight against Burn) and serves as a versatile answer for control decks to stem the bleeding from aggro decks.

I imagine the reason this card is under $1 currently is that a lot of people may not have heard about it. UWx control decks also haven't held up well in Modern, even if they are on an upswing at the moment thanks to Nahiri, the Harbinger.

Conclusion

I plan to turn this article in to a regular series, and I hope you enjoyed reading the first one. As you may have noticed, for this type of spec I try to focus on formats with strong playerbase growth like Modern and Commander.

I also prefer cards that are either 1) older, 2) mythic rare (when possible), and/or 3) from less-opened sets. Meeting one of these requirements implies that supply should be lower than newer rares from beloved sets, and that any spike in demand will cause a massive rise in price. How long that spike lasts obviously depends on whether the card sticks around.

4 thoughts on “Insider: Long Shot Specs #1

  1. I agree with Sunscour, Skaab Ruinator, and Beck // Call. I have also invested in Skaab Ruinator, I always thought someone would break it in modern with Coco and Chord.

  2. Cool idea! I have my own long shot spec going on MTGO with Jace the Mind Sculptor. With two recent printings in EMA and the online only VMA, Jace is down to around 6 tix. It’s a long shot spec because the only way this takes off is if Jace gets unbanned in Modern. Here’s hoping!

    1. JTMS is definitely a card I’m watching for the same reason as you…. unfortunately, his paper price is still $50-$55 so it’s difficult to go too deep without tying up a lot of capital .

  3. Nice picks! I have been snagging up foiled Magus of the Candelabra for some time now cant seem to keep them in the binders though, did not realize how low Damping Matrix still is grabbed a set after reading the article. Really like the idea of the Long Shot Spec cant wait for #2.

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