It’s evident the Reserved List hype of 2018 has come to an end. Not long ago the Interests page on MTG Stocks was lit up with Reserved List cards, many of which doubling or tripling in price overnight. Nowadays we see virtually no movement on these cards.
But I don’t think this means Reserved List speculation is over for good.
In fact, this may be an opportune time to acquire strategically. But buying on the dip isn’t a new idea to anyone—everyone should be aware that buying when others are fearful, and selling when others are greedy, is a good strategy. Instead of harping on this, I want to get specific this week.
There are a handful of under-the-radar Reserved List cards that may be worth checking out. You don’t need to buy these today. Or next week. Probably not even next month. However, when that next batch of buyouts begins, the cards on this list may have a moment to shine. Having a couple playsets of these may not be such a bad idea, and you never know when you can spike a Card Kingdom buylist and make a few extra bucks.
Without further ado, here’s a list of ten underappreciated Reserved List cards. (Shout-out to Kelly Reid for this article idea!)
10. Reflect Damage (Mirage)
Are you tired of playing against the Commander player who throws numerous enchantments and equipment onto an unblockable, untargetable creature, then launches lethal attacks at one player at a time? Do you face opponents who create infinite mana combos, destroying their opponents with a giant burn spell? If so, then Reflect Damage may be for you.
Its mana cost is a bit steep, but in Commander this rarely matters. This card is likely not well known, and would be a fun surprise to spring on your opponents. This one may never hit $10, but it’s under a buck and that seems like a bargain for a playable Reserved List card from Mirage.
9. Triangle of War (Visions)
There are other cards that do the same thing as Triangle of War. There’s even a keyword now that simplifies its effect: fight. That said, this is a useful effect on a one-mana artifact. That means it can be tutored for with Trinket Mage. It’s not going to win you many games, but being on the Reserved List and from Visions means this card will one day be worth more than its current sub-$1 price tag.
8. Phyrexian Negator (Duel Deck Foil)
This card isn’t the powerhouse it once was back in the day. I don’t think it’s going far out on a limb to say it’s not really too playable nowadays. Despite that, this is still a foil Reserved List card. The Judge Promos admittedly look better, but those are basically gone from TCGplayer, with the lowest listing at $125.
Meanwhile you can get a handful of the Duel Deck printing for under $0.50. Is the Judge printing 250 times cooler and rarer than the Duel Deck printing? I wouldn’t doubt it. But someone may catch on someday that the card is on the Reserved List, and the Duel Deck foil printing is worth speculating on.
7. Dwarven Thaumaturgist (Weatherlight)
Thaumaturgy: the capability of a magician or a saint to work magic or miracles (Wikipedia). This Reserved List card was color-shifted in Planar Chaos, but you’ll never see the original printed again. It’s a pretty unique effect in red, and can serve many dastardly purposes in Commander. It is also the classic partner to Sorceress Queen. Does this card belong under $0.50? I’m not sure, but I would wager not.
6. Hakim, Loreweaver (Mirage)
My favorite aspect of this card is the oddly lowercased “h” in Hakim. I would have thought this was a proper noun, Hakim being a name, but what do I know? This is such a bizarre card from Mirage that even if it weren’t on the Reserved List I don’t think it’d ever see a reprint.
It’s not played much in Commander, but how cool would it be to marry with Eldrazi Conscription or some other busted Aura? Its effect is unique and being able to recur enchantments for repeated come-into-play triggers could be breakable one day. I’d keep this on your radar.
5. Ebon Praetor (Fallen Empires)
Okay, this card has a giant bunny in the artwork. Do I need to say more? Probably. How about the fact that this card creates the need to keep track of -2/-2 and +1/+0 counters? I once thought about how weird it would be to make a deck that created as many unique power/toughness altering counters as possible to maximize confusion among your friends.
It’s a stupid idea, but if this thought caused you to brainstorm other unique counter-generators, then go out and buy a few playsets of Ebon Praetor. These are dirt cheap anyway so why not?
4. Tainted Specter (Mirage)
This specter doesn’t have the power level of Hypnotic Specter, but it has some unique advantages in the right setting. The key is that this card lets you mess with your opponent’s hand without having to damage them—fairly different from most specters. You get the added bonus of either forcing your opponent to draw a card they already had in hand or else doing one damage to each creature and player.
I don’t understand why this is the chosen effect on the card, but there you have it. A very odd combination of abilities on a Reserved List card—add in a cool piece of art—and you have a card worth picking up.
3. Earthlink (Ice Age)
The casting cost on this one is quite prohibitive, I’ll admit. I checked EDH REC and this card sees virtually no Commander play (though it could slot in Xira Arien nicely). You also don’t make many friends when forcing players to sacrifice lands.
But with all that said, the most creative of mana-denial fanatics may be able to build a deck that breaks this card. It would take a lot of work, but it basically gives you a recurring land-destruction effect, and that can be quite dangerous. Keep this on your radar, or better yet go grab a few playsets for a couple bucks and throw them in a shoebox for a year or two.
2. General Jarkeld (Ice Age)
This is such a cool effect on a legendary creature. I mean, it’s a billion times better than Sorrow's Path, right? There isn’t a surprise component since this is a combat trick that must be in play, but it can really mess with combat.
Just like many of the other cards on this list, this is unplayed in Commander. But I think that is in error. There must be ways to abuse this card. It doesn’t make the most interesting general, but it will certainly give you many political levers to pull in multiplayer games. I think this card should be worth far more than where it is now.
1. Jabari’s Influence
How many ways can you permanently take control of an opponent’s creature when you’re playing white? Probably very few, but this is one of them! It’s awkward that combat must take place first before you can cast this card. But casting this card in a game will likely earn you “biggest surprise play.” It’s steep to hold up five mana, but I love the blowouts this card can achieve when playing it at the end of an opponent’s turn, stealing their most powerful creature. Then you can untap and go to town.
Don’t forget this effect doesn’t end at the end of turn and it’s not an enchantment. Your opponents can’t just Disenchant something to get their creature back. They’ll need to be far more creative.
Oh, and one other thing: according to a post I read on MTG Gatherer, this is the only card that ever used -1/-0 counters. You know, just in case you were going to build that confusing counter deck I told you about before.
Wrapping It Up
The Reserved List has been covered ad nauseam, most especially by me. However I’d wager these cards have received virtually no attention from the MTG finance community. That’s about to change. I wouldn’t encourage you to go out and buy dozens of copies of these cards, mind you. You’ll have the worst time trying to move them. I also despise market manipulation. But these cards do useful things, often outside the traditional color pie. For the reasons presented, they really do merit consideration.
For full disclaimer, I own zero copies of every card mentioned on this list. I’m not trying to hype up cards I’m speculating on. I probably won’t even purchase any immediately after this article gets published. There’s little reason to rush—the market is soft right now and that won’t change in the next couple months.
However, I will definitely keep these in mind in the future and will eventually pick up some copies while they’re still cheap. The opportunity cost is minimal and, as we’ve seen with Reserved List cards in the past, the upside is significant.
- Arabian Nights City of Brass is back on Card Kingdom’s hotlist, although their $265 buy price isn’t best in class. It’s also not their best price ever. But maybe if they don’t get more copies in, they’ll bump the price up again. I have a spare HP copy and if they go back to over $300 on their buyprice, I just may ship them the card (which, ironically, I acquired from them months ago for a bit less).
- A few Legends cards are reappearing on Card Kingdom’s hotlist, and their numbers are slowly climbing. Perhaps this reflects the beginning of the end of the softening on Legends. For example, Concordant Crossroads is up to $70 and Divine Intervention is at $46. These are both fairly strong numbers, and maybe they’ll climb higher.
- Collectors’ Edition cards aren’t talked about as much these days after their prices jumped through the roof. But I do see Mana Vault from the set on Card Kingdom’s hotlist at $49. It still amazes me people will pay so much for cards they can’t use in tournaments. But as I’ve said before, this just reflects the popularity of Old School and Cubes where these cards can be played.