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Unlocked: The Dominaria Power Rankings: Rare Edition

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Welcome back to the Dominaria Power Rankings. Last week we covered the mythics. This week we're going to tackle the rares. The overall value of a set of Dominaria hasn't changed from last week to this one – Dominaria is still stuck at $ 90. Although I expect that to dip $5 or $10 over the next three weeks, I predict that Dominaria is going to settle higher than every other set in recent memory.

For those of you new to Magic Online finance, keep in mind that there are fewer barriers to speculating on cheaper cards online than there are in paper. It would be crazy to invest in most of these cards in paper, but they can be the bread and butter of a Magic Online portfolio.

A brief refresher on the categories:

  • Risk: Relative to its current price, how much room is there for this card to fall? How much concern should you have that you'll be unloading this card at a loss in the future?
  • Potential: How much room does this card have to grow? Growth in an absolute sense (dollars and cents) and growth as a rate of return (percentage) are both important factors and I weight them equally.
  • Chance of Success: How likely will this card be a successful speculation? Is it a surefire bet or more of a dark horse?

15. Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle


Risk: low
Potential: low-moderate

Chance of Success: 5%
Recommended buy price: bulk

Teshar squeezes by The Antiquities War for the final slot. If Kaladesh block can't make The Antiquities War relevant, what block can? Teshar is a clunky yet powerful card, and likely depends on a degenerate interaction with a future card to become a successful speculation.

Verdict: D-

14. Tempest Djinn


Risk: low-moderate
Potential: low-moderate
Chance of Success: 5%
Recommended buy price: bulk

Tempest Djinn is one of the primary reasons to play a blue aggressive deck, and I like that the strongest cards to support this strategy are not going to be rotating. I could also see it as a beater in an aggressive Naban deck, which broadens its appeal a bit.

Verdict: D-

13. Grand Warlord Radha


Risk: low
Potential: low
Chance of Success: 10%
Recommended buy price: bulk

Radha made this list because she is an elf, is an excellent attacker at four mana, and is a synergy card that is still powerful on her own. Currently she is at bulk, so now is a good time to get her if you like her potential.

Verdict: D

12. Goblin Chainwhirler


Risk: high
Potential: moderate-high
Chance of Success: N/A

Goblin Chainwhirler is interesting. I think its price is so low because a possible ban looms over the horizon. I'll be steering clear for now, but if Chainwhirler stays in the format, snagging 4 or 100 copies for its present price of around 60 cents will make you feel like a modern day Jeremiah or Isaiah.

Verdict: D

11. Cabal Stronghold


Risk: low-moderate
Potential: low-moderate
Chance of Success: 15%
Recommended buy price: 0.03 0.10 tix

Narrow cards tend to fare better if they're mythic. The saving grace for Cabal Stronghold is that it's a land, and there are possible worlds in which this card sells for $0.50 to $1.00. Be on the lookout for a replacement for the mana sinks Torment of Hailfire and Walking Ballista.

Verdict: D

10. Siege-Gang Commander


Risk: low-moderate
Potential: low
Chance of Success: 33%
Recommended buy price: 0.05 0.07 tix

Standard would be a lot more fun if cards like Siege-Gang Commander rose to the top instead of those like Rekindling Phoenix. Siege-Gang can work well with Goblin and token synergies, but those will have to become competitive for Siege-Gang to rise in price. My hunch is that its true value is closer to 0.35 tix, so buying in this cheap should net you a return. Past printings put a hard ceiling on its price potential.

Verdict: D+

9. Rite of Belzenlok


Risk: low
Potential: low-moderate
Chance of Success:
10%
Recommended buy price: bulk

Rite of Belzenlok is a powerful token and sacrifice enabler. This is the first card on this list that truly piques my interest. If it's a requisite playset in a competitive tier-one deck, it should have a minimum price tag of 0.35 tix. Currently sitting at bulk, it strikes me as something of which I want to own a playset just in case.

Verdict: D+

8. Squee, the Immortal


Risk: low
Potential: low-moderate
Chance of Success: 25%
Recommended buy price: 0.01 0.04 tix

Squee is a potential enabler for different synergy decks, be they goblin focused, legendary sorcery focused, or sacrifice focused. It is also seeing some Modern play. Definitely a speculative pick, and there are a few speculative picks I like better, but this is definitely a defensible pickup.

Verdict: C-

7. Steel Leaf Champion


Risk: low-moderate
Potential: low-moderate
Chance of Success: 60%
Recommended buy price: 0.40 0.50 tix

Steel Leaf Champion has proven itself to be the anchor of a tier-one strategy, and we can expect that strategy to remain competitive after rotation. The ceiling for Steel Leaf Champion probably hovers around 1.50 tix, but I think it's worth an investment despite the low ceiling. I don't want to buy in yet (0.75 tix is a tad high), but you'll possibly see some of these in my portfolio by the time rotation hits.

Verdict: C

6. The Mirari Conjecture


Risk: low
Potential: low-moderate
Chance of Success: 25%

Recommended buy price: bulk

A good speculative pick. Its narrowness makes me wish it were mythic, but I think it's powerful enough and easy enough to build around that it has a decent shot to rise above bulk. If you're on a low budget and only want to speculate on bulk cards, you should pick these up.

Verdict: C

5. Naban, Dean of Iteration


Risk: low
Potential: low-moderate
Chance of Success: 30%
Recommended buy price: bulk

Naban is my favorite dark-horse pick. My main worry is that its price has bottomed out and has been bottomed out for quite a while. On the plus side, a potent Wizards shell already exists and will survive rotation intact. Count me intrigued.

Verdict: C

4. Dread Shade


Risk: low
Potential: moderate
Chance of Success: 40%
Recommended buy price: 0.05 0.10 tix

Dread Shade has already proven itself in Black control strategies, and it strikes me as a card that will have a small yet consistent presence in Standard going forward. I think an accurate valuation for this card is 0.33 tix, so nabbing it for less than a dime strikes me as a good pickup.

Verdict: C+

3. The Checklands

Risk: low
Potential: moderate
Chance of Success: 90%
Recommended buy prices: 0.35 0.75 tix

Not sexy pickups, but these will make you money. The Ixalan lands have been slower to move than I had expected, so that's dampening my enthusiasm for this set. Nevertheless, I will own at least 12 copies of all of them within a month.

Verdict: B

2. Benalish Marshal


Risk: low
Potential: moderate-high
Chance of Success: 75%
Recommended buy price: 0.10 0.20 tix

Benalish Marshal is simply a powerful card that could be a four-of in a few different decks. I have a hard time imagining the card never being worth more than 0.50 tix, and I think it's likely that it will see time above a dollar.

Verdict: B+

1. Shalai, Voice of Plenty


Risk: moderate
Potential: high
Chance of Success:
66%
Recommended buy price: 0.25-0.40 tix

I have Shalai over Benalish Marshal because I think it is the more likely card to break the 2.00 tix mark. Shalai is the real deal, and is the best way for aggressive strategies to combat Settle the Wreckage. That alone makes it likely that this card will pay dividends once it has left the draft tables.

Verdict: B+

2 thoughts on “Unlocked: The Dominaria Power Rankings: Rare Edition

  1. I never noticed that about Shalai protecting against Settle the Wreckage. Fumigate targets the board, whereas Settle the Wreckage targets a player; very huge detail indeed.

    1. Yea, it’s a sort of guarantor of metagame relevance for Shalai going forward. Whether that relevance gives Shalai enough of a boost to warrant a price of 1.00-2.00 tix going forward is an open question, but the possibility and potential is definitely there.

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