Core Set 2019 has been officially released, and it presents plenty of opportunity for the savvy speculator. As with cards in any set, card prices will change over time, and there are cards that are bargains at the current price compared to what they will be in the future, so it’s just a matter of figuring out those cards now.
Increasing prices means increasing demand, and demand is largely derived from playability, so by looking at early results to get an idea of what is performing, we can get a head start on the market once it starts really reacting when results become high profile, like at the upcoming Pro Tour 25th Anniversary.
Luckily the set was released over a week ago on Magic Online and became Constructed-legal immediately, and there are already decklists with the new cards, so today I’ll cover the cards that have been performing, and share some potential specs to cash in.
These days it seems that some of the best specs are on foil versions of new cards that immediately make their way to Eternal formats, because these cards have been demanding high prices fresh out of the pack, which in years past was rarely the case.
One card showing up from the new set is Remorseful Cleric, a very playable Modern and Legacy card. It’s a sure-fire bet to see play for years and years come, so foils will be in high demand. At over $10 it’s already at a high price, but I do see it just going higher and higher over time.
A more surprising card showing up is Militia Bugler, which has already performed well in a few different Modern decks. It’s a good hit off Collected Company, and great for finding Knight of the Reliquary in the Bant Retreat to Coralhelm deck, and it showed up in a White-Green Hatebears deck, which shows off how good it is with Aether Vial.
This fact, along with it being a Human, means it’s also a fit into Five-Color Humans, the top deck in Modern, and was played as a 2-of in a 5-0 list. The card actually solves problems for the deck, specifically by generating card advantage that helps immensely against its toughest matchups, control decks packed with creature removal, so it has real potential. Widespread adoption into the archetype as a staple, especially it broke out at a high-profile tournament like the upcoming team Pro Tour, would send its foil price skyrocketing.
The current price of $3 really does seem like a bargain, so this is a card I could see paying off going deep on. It turns out that there is actually an FNM full art foil promo, which will add to the supply and cut into the price, but I don't see it holding it back that much relative to the potential gains.
Underappreciated Standard Staples
As for Standard, the money is in cheap cards that have the potential to become real Standard staples. That means avoiding the already expensive cards, like Nicol Bolas, the Ravager // Nicol Bolas, the Arisen, which looks to be one of the best cards in the set an a staple, but probably isn’t the next Karn, Scion of Urza and doesn’t have much left room to grow. I’d look towards underappreciated cards with high upside, and there are a few cards performing in leagues that could be good buys.
One example is Graveyard Marshal, which is poised to usher in a new era of black decks. Not only has it revitalized Zombie tribal, but it may prove even better in a traditional tribal-less Mono-Black Aggro deck.
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants has been putting up a surprising amount of results so far, and might be one of the more underrated cards in the set. It’s been doing well in White-Black Knight decks, and if it proves good enough revitalize Black-White as a competitive archetype, then its $13 price would have room to move up towards $20.
The prices of these reprints are at a fraction of the old price, and have a lot of upside. I don’t see much more downside at this point, definitely not after summer’s end and when the next set comes, so I’d start scaling into them now and prepare to hold for the next year or few for some significant gains. Crucible of Worlds and Scapeshift both seem strong, Crucible of Worlds because of Commander and Scapeshift as a Modern 4-of staple, but Omniscience I’m not as high on.
What’s interesting to me is that the original Scapeshift has fallen by almost half, from nearly $60 to $30, while Crucible of Worlds has held stronger, from $65 to $50. That leads me to believe that Crucible of Worlds has more demand, so the price of its reprint should increase in price faster than the reprint of Scapeshift. That said, this is already reflected in the prices of the two cards, with Scapeshift being at $13 and Crucible of Worlds at $20. Scapeshift would have to grow by about 150% to reach the $30 of the original, the same growth Crucible of Worlds would need to reach $50 of its first two versions. Omniscience fell from $30 to $18, while the reprint is at $7, which follows approximately the same ratio. What’s not clear is the speed at which the prices of the reprints and originals will converge, and because the fact that they will converge means that price of reprints have more room to fall and will settle at different points relative to the other reprints, so all specs are not created equal. For that reason my money is on Crucible of Worlds first as the best long-term bet, then Scapeshift, and finally Omniscience.
There should also be nice gains to be had on the foils. Foil Scapeshift has been sitting somewhere shy of $150, and hasn’t really fallen, likely because the reprint has new art, while Crucible of Worlds was over $100 but is actually down to $90 because it’s the same art. These prices make the prices of the foil reprints look like a bargain, Crucible of Worlds at $45 and Scapeshift at $40, leaving plenty of room on the upside. Again there seems to be more demand for Crucible of Worlds, which has a higher foil price and one closer to the original’s price. It’s interesting that Omniscience hasn’t really fallen in price despite the reprint having the same art, so maybe demand for foil Omniscience is pretty robust. That makes the foil reprints seem like a solid spec, at $23 compared to $58 for the original foil.
What are you targeting in Core Set 2019?