Being a fan of the classics, any new card that suddenly makes older cards more relevant naturally piques my interest. That’s exactly what happened recently with the spoiling of Hour of Devastation rare Solemnity.
A white enchantment with converted mana cost of three may not seem especially splashy at first, but this card screams “combo” with some old and forgotten cards. Sure, this does wonders for Dark Depths, possibly making Legacy Lands a better deck. But I’m way more excited by the synergy Solemnity offers with cumulative upkeep cards. It all comes down to rule 702.21a:
So we see that cumulative upkeep was reworded to involve age counters, which dictate the cost of upkeep each turn. Well, that’s great and all but if counters can’t be put on artifacts, creatures, enchantments, or lands, then suddenly there are no age counters. Thus, there is no upkeep to pay. This blows some cards wide open, and while Glacial Chasm was the first to spike, I thought I would seize the opportunity to share some other (possibly lesser known) cards worth grabbing or digging out of bulk.
Cumulative Upkeep Targets
When I searched “cumulative upkeep” in Gatherer I found 88 matches. Some are absolutely pointless, such as Snowfall. Others interact with cumulative upkeep but don’t have the cost themselves, such as Adarkar Unicorn. After filtering these out, I did my best to identify the most intriguing targets. The fact that many of these are on the Reserved List (marked with an *) makes these an even more attractive target.
Ancestral Knowledge* isn’t really bulk. Looking at its graph, maybe it never has been. But at just over a buck, you could do worse. With Solemnity in play, you basically can arrange and filter the top ten cards of your library for two mana. Since you won’t have to pay the upkeep cost, you never have to worry about shuffling your library and negating your filtering efforts. This isn’t completely useless in EDH by itself either, I suppose.
Elephant Grass sees Legacy play already in GW Enchantress decks. But that deck hasn’t been winning tournaments for many years now. Perhaps that’s why it has halved in price from $1.50 to $0.75 over the past five years. Still, perhaps Solemnity can breathe new life into the deck? It is white and an enchantment, after all, so stranger things have happened.
Nothing says “suck it” more to UR Delver decks than Energy Storm*. Reducing utility of both Lightning Bolt and Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration at the same time is a unique feat! This does double duty in your Legacy sideboard against Burn as well. But despite all this, I don’t see this one going anywhere. It’s just a Reserved List card from Ice Age so it was worth mentioning.
Blood Moon has a friend in Infernal Darkness, in that it’s another way of hosing an opponent’s lands. Only Infernal Darkness doesn’t just go after nonbasics—it hoses every land that doesn’t already want to produce black mana. Something happened two years ago that caused this card to jump from bulk to non-bulk, and now the card is in the $2 range. It’s not on the Reserved List, but this won’t be reprinted any time soon. I like these as a casual pickup with fringe EDH playability.
I lumped these two cards together because they both do something similar. Reality Twist* is a blue enchantment on the Reserved List and Naked Singularity is an artifact. Therefore both have their favorable positions. These are wacky abilities and I doubt they find themselves particularly useful in 60-card formats but casuals may enjoy warping EDH games with these. Technically you can also add Ritual of Subdual* to this list, but at six mana with double green in the casting cost, this one seems a little more of a stretch.
A vanilla 8/8 creature for three colorless mana is nothing to sneeze at. If a deck were to exploit Solemnity in Modern or Legacy, this could be a solid win condition. It doesn’t have trample, which is a shame, but you can’t argue with its power level should there be no pesky cumulative upkeep! We can lump Sheltering Ancient in with Soulgorger, I suppose, which is similar only green and 5/5 (at least it has trample). As for price potential—let’s just say Mishra's Bauble and Dark Depths do a fine job at establishing how expensive uncommons and rares from Coldsnap can become.
Tornado* is a bit mana-intensive, but a re-usable Desert Twister is awfully powerful. It’s eight mana to destroy that first permanent but each additional permanent only costs three mana more. With no velocity counter, there’s no increasing cost. Maybe this shows up in EDH decks alongside Solemnity? Probably not—I’d pass.
Non-Cumulative Upkeep Ideas
In addition to the cards above, I also have my eye on a couple other cards that interact really well with Solemnity. We’ve already seen Decree of Silence spike, but there are others that haven’t moved as much yet.
One of my favorites is Force Bubble. This is a rare enchantment from Scourge that has never been reprinted. So far the nonfoils and foils haven’t moved an inch on speculation. But how awesome would turn-three Solemnity into turn four Force Bubble be? Perhaps it’s not good enough for Legacy, but casual and EDH players may be intrigued. If you’re interested in this spec, I’d recommend targeting foils while they’re a buck.
Celestial Convergence is another white enchantment worth looking at. Foils have already spiked on this one, but nonfoils of this Prophecy rare still average under a buck. Once again, this card was never reprinted and Prophecy was released a long time ago. Supply can’t be exceptionally deep on this one, and it’s another cute card for EDH. Gain some life, cast Solemnity, cast Celestial Convergence, and immediately win the game since no counters can be placed on the enchantment!
Lastly, I have to at least mention Dark Depths.
This one is already expensive because it’s a mainstay of Legacy Lands. But if Lands can find a way to work Solemnity into its tight list of 75, then Dark Depths would certainly get better. At $30 a pop, this is an expensive one to spec on so I wouldn’t advocate going very deep. But keep an eye on that supply…it may gradually rise for months before randomly spiking while no one was paying attention.
Wrapping It Up
Solemenity is one of those cards that drives all sorts of buyouts—some good and some bad—which means there is money to be made for savvy speculators. Those who got in on Glacial Chasm, Decree of Silence, and even Mystic Remora, have already made some money. But I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the spikes driven by Solemnity’s power.
Some vocal members of the community have tweeted that they believe a rules change is on the horizon. They argue that Solemnity completely negates cumulative upkeep, and Wizards may alter how cumulative upkeep works so that the age counters are different from the type of counters that Solemnity impacts.
While this is a possibility, I think it’s an unnecessary rules change. While digging through every card in Magic’s history with cumulative upkeep, I honestly didn’t find a single card that became completely broken when combined with Solemnity. Glacial Chasm probably comes closest, but there are better two-card combos in Legacy that straight up win you the game and those aren’t broken. So I think the rules will remain unchanged; hence my suggested pickups.
Don’t overlook the age of some of these cards, too. Just because a card doesn’t become broken with Solemnity doesn’t mean speculators can’t drive the price up exorbitantly. Some of these cards are even on the Reserved List, adding yet another factor in favor of this speculation. If there’s no payoff in the short term, the buy-ins on most of the cards are low enough that you can throw your copies in a shoe box and wait for the next possible buyout. I never would have thought something like Harbinger of Night could be worth $3.50, but here we are.
With new cards coming out all the time, you just never know.
- I noticed mono-green decks have become fairly popular budget options in Old School lately. Cards with relatively high availability are starting to move in price. For example, consider Alpha and Beta Scryb Sprites—there are actually not that many available on TCG Player and after a few more players get their playsets, these will be gone. Star City Games is already sold out of both printings at $7.99 and $3.99 respectively.
- Another mono-green trend is Timber Wolves. Banding is actually a pretty good ability in Old School, and the artwork on this original rare is classic! Star City Games is completely sold out of these too, with a $39.99 price tag. Given that copies recently sold in the $50 range on eBay, I think SCG will have to raise their price in the near future.
- Sticking with the mono-green theme, I also think Master of the Hunt and Ifh-Bíff Efreet are well-positioned to rise in price. SCG has just one SP copy of the Master in stock ($7.99) and one MP copy of Ifh-Biff ($29.99). I noticed that Card Kingdom was buying Ifh-Biff at $36 the other day, which means they’re paying over $20 on “Good” copies. Unless CK becomes inundated with copies, I think this card will climb higher throughout the rest of 2017.