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Insider: Speculating on Rivals of Ixalan, Part I

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Rivals of Ixalan seems to have stabilized in price, hovering around $55 for the past three weeks. That's a bit higher than I had expected, but now that the typical array of gauntlets, flashbacks, cubes, and masters set releases has begun in earnest, the infusion of supply of Rivals of Ixalan cards into the MTGO marketplace will slow down. There's little reason to believe that fresh infusion of supply will outpace demand for redemption going forward, so now begins the optimal time to look into investing in Rivals of Ixalan cards. Investing in March through May will be optimal, and today, I'm here to help you prepare by discussing the mythic rares from Rivals of Ixalan !

(I) There's no bolting this bird - Rekindling Phoenix is the premier card from Rivals of Ixalan.

Rekindling Phoenix is the card that everyone wants me to talk about, and for good reason – it is currently eating up 50 percent to 60 percent of the set's value! Unlike a lot of other Standard cards in recent memory that reached 30.00 tix, Rekindling Phoenix did so at lightning speed without giving investors a real chance to judge the card on its merits and capitalize on its rapid rise. The card is obviously excellent and, critical to sustaining such a high price, is good in a variety of archetypes, capable of serving as a premier midrange threat and as a curve topper for an aggressive shell that is happy to sacrifice speed for increased resiliency.

Rekindling Phoenix will likely see more time between 30.00 and 40.00 tix, with some potential to spike north of 40.00 tix. Unless Lee Sharpe opts to give this card a curated list value above 12, I'll be a happy buyer if this card dips into the upper teens or low twenties. Even after The Scarab God broke out, it experienced a dip into the low twenties, and we should expect the same from Phoenix. Buy at that time.

I do want to raise one red flag about this card that is worth keeping in mind: all of the premier threats in Standard today demand an exile effect for a clean answer, and half of them can be dealt with by an Incendiary Flow effect. I have a hard time imagining Wizards not printing such an effect soon to help keep these threats in check. I'm thinking a more efficient (and perhaps instant speed) Puncturing Blow.

My recommended buy price: 17.00-21.00 tix

(II) Rivals Planeswalkers

For those of you who read my piece on mythic rares with converted mana costs of four and five, you know already that planeswalkers tend to be a conservative investment choice, usually offering decent returns. Angrath, in particular, fits the bill as a run-of-the-mill planeswalker that will likely increase in price at some later date due to an uptick in demand.

Huatli is much more narrow, but it could support or anchor a token strategy after Annointed Procession leaves the format. The tokens deck is already glutted at the four slot, so I don't think it will see play anytime soon. My recommendation for Huatli is to wait until July and August, then see if her price is hovering around 1.00 tix.

My recommended buy price for Angrath: 2.00 tix
My recommended buy price for Huatli: 1.00-1.35 tix

(III) Let's talk Merfolk

For the first week of release, Kumana, Tyrant of Orazca was the most valuable card in Rivals of Ixalan. Once a top-tier Merfolk deck could not be constructed, however, its price crashed hard. Kumena's future prospects will rely entirely on the future printing of Merfolk, either in Dominaria or in Core 2019.  I don't know how wise it is to speculate entirely on that sort of potential. If Kumena falls closer to 2.00 or 3.00 tix, I'll be more likely to pull the trigger. At 5.5 tix, it still has plenty of room to fall.

Merfolk is an iconic race for Magic, and I think the recently coined Play Design Team will be tasked with ensuring that Merfolk is a top-tier strategy moving forward.

My recommended buy price: 2.00-3.50 tix

(IV) Ancient Aztec Artifacts

Azor's Gateway // Sanctum of the Sun is a prime example of where the research done on these mythics can pay off. I'm now inclined to believe that this will make for a good speculation opportunity. It's an artifact that costs two mana, and the back side is an enabler for janky win conditions. At minimum, it is a future Saffron Olive spike card; at maximum, it is a future staple of Standard control decks, and the reality will likely be that it will be a key piece in tier-two combo and control decks.

The question is how low will it go? I don't want to pay 4.00 tix for it, but I think somewhere between 2.00 to 2.50 is acceptable, and 1.50 to 2.00 ideal.

I would steer clear of The Immortal Sun for now. The only way I could see this being a Standard-playable card is in a token deck, and right now token decks have better ways to grind out card advantage. I do believe this card has a chance, especially when Angel of Invention rotates this Fall.  If the meta shifts more toward planeswalkers, as well, this card could be a legitimate option. I expect it to fall to bulk in late spring or early summer, and at that time it is reasonable to speculate on it if you're a believer.

My recommended buy price for Azor's Gateway: 1.50-2.50 tix
My recommended buy price for The Immortal Sun: 0.50 tix

(V) Azor, the Lawbringer

Easily the most polarizing mythic rare in Rivals of Ixalan, Azor often generates two reactions "unplayable" or "future control finisher like Sphinx of the Final Word." As someone who made a good amount of money on Sphinx of the Final Word, I want to urge caution on Azor. Sphinx saw play as a mirror breaker Azor is not an ideal mirror breaker because it can be countered.  Azor is at its best against midrange, but control is already good against midrange and likely won't need to devote sideboard slots to Azor. I'm thus inclined to pass. Wizards will print something better in the next three sets, I promise.

My recommended buy price: N/A

(VI) Signing Off

Saffron Olive favorites: Polyraptor and Azor's Gateway // Sanctum of the Sun.

Which five mythics am I most likely to invest in within a few months?

  1. Azor's Gateway // Sanctum of the Sun
  2. Angrath, the Flame-Chained
  3. Polyraptor
  4. Rekindling Phoenix
  5. Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca

A copy of my portfolio can be found here. As always, I look forward to reading your comments down below, and please feel free to ask any questions. What are your favorite speculation picks for Rivals of Ixalan? In the next two installments of this series, I will cover rares, and in the final article, I will cover uncommons.

I won my first ever card-design competition this past month, and I've already shown you one of the five cards from the final round (Dakthos). Today I'll show you another one, for your viewing pleasure. The design constraint was that the card had to be able to be cast from multiple zones, but not from your hand.

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