Welcome back to my series on Ixalan investment opportunities. In Part I I covered the mythics. In Part II the uncommons. In this article, we'll tackle some of the rares, saving others for next week. I'm going to focus on cards that are generating financial buzz and intrigue, as well as those about which I've received inquiries. I will not be discussing the rare land cycle – I did so in an earlier article – but suffice to say, I think all of them will make for a good investment, and I would try to buy in as close to the 0.75- to 1.00-tix range as possible, which is the price point at which you could get all of the Kaladesh lands around Christmas last year. I think the optimal time to buy Ixalan cards will extend until Christmas or early January. If I don't discuss a card you would like a second opinion on, please let me know in the comments and I will discuss it in my next article.
(1) Premium Removal: Vraska's Contempt and Settle the Wreckage
Vraska's Contempt is one of just three cards to have held the distinction of Most Expensive Rare in the Set thus far. Functionally similar to Hero's Downfall and Utter End, Hero's Downfall likely shows us some of its positive potential and Utter End its risk. After its release, Hero's Downfall climbed to 10.80 tix after its stellar performance at Pro Tour Theros before spending the remaining two years generally hovering around 2.00 tix, with two somewhat brief spikes to 4.00 and 6.00 tix after the release of Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged.
On the other hand, Utter End's price trajectory towards bulk shows what would likely happen to Vraska's Contempt if a better version of this effect were introduced to Standard – once you move beyond one and two mana, you generally can't devote more than four to six slots for unconditional targeted removal effects. And we already have Cast Out and Ixalan's Binding in Standard.
Given the price history of Hero's Downfall and Ruinous Path, I'm definitely wary about investing in Vraska's Contempt at its current price of 3.52 tix, a price tag it has been commanding ever since release. However, I don't think that the card is overvalued – it operates at instant speed, is the cleanest answer to Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God, and slots in nicely into a deck with both The Scarab God and Fatal Push. There will also be fewer copies of it entering the market than Hero's Downfall (relatively speaking) , meaning that it has a higher potential ceiling.
With that said, I'm not optimistic that it will ever exceed 8.00 tix, but I think it's a reasonable bet that it will spend some time north of 5.00 or 6.00 tix during its Standard lifetime. There is definite risk that this card will spend a lot of time between 2.00 and 3.00 tix, though, so I don't think this is yet a slam dunk investment. Keep your eyes peeled and pounce if its price dips for some reason.
[card name = "Vraska's Contempt"]
Settle the Wreckage is an excellent card. It killed more than 40 of my creatures once in a game of Ixalan draft (and after a good hearty laugh, I scooped). Simply put, Settle the Wreckage is an excellent tool for the control player, forcing your opponent to take leaps of faith if he wishes to leverage his on-board presence to try and finish the game before you can stabilize. And its exile clause is more than meaningful at a time when divinities are dominating the battlefield.
Right now, its price is being held up by its key role in UW Approach, a deck that likely won't disappear any time soon. More so than Vraska's Contempt, I think that Settle the Wreckage is somewhat meta dependent, and that could give us a chance to buy low. I would be surprised if this card didn't play a role in future Standard environments, so this is definitely a card I'm looking to nab if its price gets too low. I anticipate that this card will be able to be sold for somewhere between 4.00 and 6.50 tix sometime in the future. I've set a pretty low target buy price for Settle the Wreckage, but I do think that it will dip that low at some point during the next two to four months.
My target buy price for Vraska's Contempt: 2.00-2.25 tix
My target buy price for Settle the Wreckage: 1.00-1.50 tix
(2) Flip Enchantments
As a class, these constitute some of the more ripe speculation targets in Ixalan. Let's start with the three I like. Search for Azcanta is too powerful a card not to see significant play in Standard, and seems powerful enough to see play in Eternal formats. And at two mana, you know it's going to see play in multiples and in a multitude of blue decks. Search for Azcanta, I think, will command a price between 3.00 and 7.00 tix at minimum throughout its time in Standard, with price spikes between 7.00 and 8.00 tix likely and 10.00 and 15.00 tix possible. I like investing in them below 4.00 tix to minimize risk, though I think investing in them between 4.0 and -4.25 is reasonable. Collective Brutality is a card that comes to mind when I think of the potential price trajectory of this card.
The fate of Legion's Landing is more dependent upon an unknown future than Search for Azcanta, but it is such a powerful turn-one play for a token strategy that it goes a long way toward enabling the deck it wants to be in. Given its native power, I am optimistic that it will see significant time in Standard above 4.00 tix, with potential to shoot upward into the 5.00- to 7.00-tix range depending upon what cards get added to the Standard card pool over the next year.
Arguel's Blood Fast is the third and last of these flip enchantments that captures my fancy as an investor. I was skeptical at first, but playing with it a number of times in Draft has made me a believer. The low down payment and the fact that the ability is instant-speed make this card much better than it reads, and if it can be potent in a fast format like Ixalan Draft, then I know it can be potent as a sideboard card against control in Standard. I think that this is a card you will be able to get for between 0.05 and 0.15 tix if you're patient, and I think it's likely that you will be able to sell it for 0.50 tix per copy in the future at minimum. I'm treating this as a slightly more risky tiny-stock uncommon.
That leaves us with the two I'm less enthusiastic about: Vance's Blasting Cannons and Growing Rites of Itlimoc. I'm especially down on Vance's Blasting Cannons, because I don't think the card is very good – not allowing you to play the lands you exile like Outpost Siege did is a huge downgrade. Currently sitting at 0.22 tix, its price would have to rise to 0.75 tix to make this a worthwhile investment. It very well could get there if it proves better than I think, although it likely wouldn't reach that price tag until Chandra rotates. If its price falls below 0.05 tix, I'll become more interested.
Growing Rites of Itlimoc is a card that is not seeing enough play to justify its current 0.36-tix price. I would happily speculate on this card at 0.01-0.02 tix just for the possibility that it became an engine card similar to Cryptolith Rite in past Standards, but I'd definitely stay away until other speculators lose faith and it becomes bulk.
My target buy price for Search for Azcanta: 3.30-3.75 tix
My target buy price for Legion's Landing: 1.25-1.75 tix
My target buy price for Arguel's Blood Fast: 0.05-0.15 tix
My target buy price for Vance's Blasting Cannons: 0.03-0.05 tix
My target buy price for Growing Rites of Itlamoc: 0.01 tix
(3) Hostage Taker
Hostage Taker is a card that I believe will see significant Standard play until it rotates. I also like that it shares colors with the best card in Standard: The Scarab God. With that said, I'm unsure whether Hostage Taker is going to prove to be one of the hallmark cards of this set – like Angel of Sanctions, it's not quite as good as it looks and requires some amount of care to utilize effectively in a Constructed environment. I'm somewhat torn on whether to invest in this card, and at what price point (I regret having already bought eight copies). I could see this card spending a significant amount of time at 2.00 tix and a significant amount of time at 5.00 tix. I think the ceiling on this card is probably around 7.50 tix if it continues to be a prime midrange option in Standard. If you have faith that it will, then investing at around 2.50 to 3.00 tix seems reasonable. I'd recommend investing at a lower price point, though.
My target buy price for Hostage Taker: 1.50-1.90 tix
My next article will be the fourth and final part of this series. I plan to discuss the rest of the cards I'm interested in (like Treasure Map and Ruin Raider, as well as tackle cards that readers have suggested (like Sunbird Invocation). Also be aware that Iconic Masters comes out on November 17, so get ready for what looks like a really fun Draft format. Until next time, and have fun watching the Pro Tour this weekend!