Insider: Return to Kaladesh (Kinda)

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So it's actually been a while since we talked about Kaladesh. In fact, I haven't really talked about the set at all since my initial spoiler article talking about the early shown commons and uncommons, and when we went over how the Expedition Effect might impact the lower-desired cards on a Battle for Zendikar scale.

Since the Pro Tour, we've seen most of the non-rares in the set settle to their "long-term" floors, where "long-term" in this context refers to the life span the card has in Standard. We know what the Duskwatch Recruiters and Monastery Swiftspears of the set are, but how does the rest of Kaladesh stand up in the face of "I'll buy these for $3 per thousand"? How do my guesses from before line up to where the cards buylist at now, and what does Kaladesh look like on the Blueprint?

Let's open our handy Trader Tools and sort by set, while only showing the commons and uncommons from Kaladesh. You can left click the tops of the columns to sort by that metric; right now we have it organized by the highest buylist price. We don't really have any surprises in the top four cards, as they're all playable cards in one Constructed format or another.

Some of the surprises start to show up when we see cards in the Kaladesh Planeswalker decks. AdventuresOn (and Cool Stuff, Inc. to a lesser extent) are paying relatively aggressively on those hard-to-find commons that just don't exist in booster packs. While you're probably not going to come across 5000-count boxes full of Flame Lash, it's still worth noting that Chandra's deck is the better of the two, and that it's not just "Chandra, Fleetwheel Cruiser, and a couple  bulk rares."


Once we get past the staples, it doesn't really look like a super hot set.

In my Expedition Effect article, I mentioned that BFZ had an extremely weak 18 commons and uncommons that were worth at least 10 cents to a particular vendor on Trader Tools. Kaladesh loses that race even harder, coming in with only 17 cards on that same metric.

But wait, several of the Kaladesh cards on Trader Tools can't even be opened in boosters! If you're picking bulk from booster boxes that doesn't include cards from Planeswalker decks, you're crossing your fingers that the seller didn't pull the obvious cards in the set that are worth money. Overall, the set looks extremely weak from a Trader Tools perspective; you can't even get dimes right now for your Servant of the Conduits. Veteran Motorist, a powerful four-of uncommon, barely makes the list as an outlier. Isle of Cards randomly wants a single copy at 14 cents; after that, it's nothing. So how about the Blueprint? Maybe we'll have better luck there.


So we're only looking at a pick number in the high 20s on this spreadsheet, which is kind of stretching it considering several of these cards are in the 3 to 5 cent range past the dime cutoff that most pickers use. Getting 20 cents per Filigree Familiar is nice, but Kaladesh just looks like it's been opened to death already. Powerful cards like Inventor's Apprentice and Veteran Motorist mope in the corner at a nickel status, and there are almost zero commons on this list at all, with Cathartic Reunion and Fragmentize making the best of a bad situation.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to turn 100 Cathartic Reunions into another thousand bulk commons and uncommons at that $3-per-thousand ratio, but Kaladesh definitely doesn't look like a set that's worth blueprinting on its own. Throw your random cards into an existing order, but it looks like the two months after release have the Expedition/Masterpiece effect really making sure that the uncommons in the set are hard to buylist.

Combine that with the fact that this set went wide in power level instead of tall, and we have a lot of playable uncommons that can't all be Aether Hub. If uncommons take up too much of a portion of box prices, then the overall EV of a set increases to the point where it's worth more to crack boxes until the equilibrium is restored. While my co-host Corbin Hosler has talked about this effect depressing rare prices extensively on Brainstorm Brewery, it holds true to uncommons on a smaller scale.

So Do  I Stop Buying Bulk?

No, of course not. Bulk is bulk; if you could move Eldritch Moon bulk before, you can move Kaladesh bulk now. Buy for $3, sell for $6 per thousand on Craigslist, and do the usual song and dance. I'm just letting you know that you shouldn't be stocking up on uncommons in this set, even if you think they're powerful and saw some fringe Modern play. Glint-Nest Crane will not be a $1 card two years from now just because of Lantern Control, so take your dimes when (and if) you can get them.

This set is still beloved by many casual players for its rich environment and silly interactions with planes, trains, and automobiles, so take advantage of that and don't stop being the person who buys bulk. If you don't buy Kaladesh bulk and accept slightly lower margins because of the slightly lower level of picks, then those same people won't bother coming to you with their Aether Revolt bulk.

End Step

I went over this a little bit on Brainstorm Brewery, but Star City Games recently upped their bulk-buying game by offering $4 cash in person at events per thousand. This is a 25 percent increase from their previous $3 offer, which has been the standard for as long as I can remember. This is especially relevant with the discussions about the recent whispers of vendors turning down bulk at Grands Prix, raising questions as to the stability of the gold bars in white boxes we've come to know and love.

While I'll still continue to pay $3 until the cardboard stops flowing, it's worth considering bringing your bulk to SCG if you're trying to trade up to some of the higher-end cards that they've recently put on sale towards the end of the year. With Legacy staples and Expeditions going on sale, you can actually get pretty strong margins by taking advantage of the 25 percent trade-in bonus. At this point, you're getting $5 per thousand on your bulk commons and uncommons (a reasonable rate, especially if you bought in at $3 or if it's just laying around your house from cracking boxes) and you can turn that credit into an Expedition, Masterpiece, or Legacy card that you've had your eye on around or less than TCG low. It's even better if you already picked and/or blueprinted the bulk yourself, leaving SCG with the scraps of the scraps!

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