Chris’s Commander Corner: Ixalan Edition

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Hi again, Readers!

I'd like to welcome you into a mini-series rendition of Chris's Commander Corner. Over the next four weeks, I am going to be focusing on the cards rotating in the fall which I believe will make for great long-term EDH-based specs. I'll be doing one article for each rotating set in chronological order from their original release, starting with Ixalan.

We all may remember Ixalan - it feels like dinosaurs were roaming the Earth when it was released (ha ha). Ixalan still strikes me as the first Standard set Wizards truly designed for Commander. Fortunately for my topic over the next few weeks, the sets that followed Ixalan continued that design pattern and there are plenty of cards to write about!

With a theme of Pirates, Dinosaurs, and Treasure Tokens, it is no surprise that "Commander gold" is everywhere in Ixalan, and narrowing the watchlist of targets down wasn't easy. Without further adieu, let's get into it!

The Watch List

There was an error retrieving a chart for Vanquisher's Banner

Starting with a bang, let's talk about the #1 most-played EDH card from all of Ixalan: Vanquisher's Banner. I love this card long-term in foil, simply because it is so easy to reprint in Commander precons where it would not receive a foil version.

The card is straight gas in tribal builds (an always popular strategy) and it just gets better and better as new tribes keep getting support (see: NinjasElementals, Morophon, the Boundless, etc.). If you are running a tribal deck in EDH currently and don't have Vanquisher's Banner in your 99 I'd love to understand why (feel free to message me explaining!). For what it is worth, I currently have six tribal decks and every single one of them runs a copy.

Investment Plan - I

Unfortunately, the floor on Vanquisher's Banner foils happened over six months ago when it bottomed out around $5. Multiple large vendors are thinly stocked on this card which doesn't bode well for keeping its price low even with rotation looming. It sees virtually no play in Standard, so it is less likely to fall victim to a rotational price drop, thus if you need a copy or want to spec on this card, it's worth doing so sooner rather than later. The foil multiplier looks promising at 2.5x with room to grow, but I would shy away from non-foils due to the aforementioned reprint risk above.

If you can acquire LP or NM foils for $6-8, that should end up being a pretty solid price-point long-term. Vanquisher's Banner has all the makings of a $15+ foil by 2020, similar to the trajectory of Panharmonicon or Anointed Procession when they rotated.

Disclosure: I own four copies of Vanquisher's Banner purchased for $5 and currently listed for sale at $10.

The Buy-a-Box Promos

To be honest, the BaB promos might not be the best play here in all circumstances. With this series being extremely difficult to reprint (flip-cards set on Ixalan!), I actually love acquiring the non-foil pack versions of each card above as I think they are more cost-effective and have higher upside.

In particular, I think we're going to see Search for Azcanta completely bottom out over the next few months which will open the door for one of the lowest risk long-term specs I have ever called attention to.

There was an error retrieving a chart for Search for Azcanta

Investment Plan - II

Search has been played heavily in Standard throughout its lifecycle, but its non-foil price has already dropped dramatically since April. Some of this is metagame shift in Standard and some of this is in anticipation of rotation in the fall. Either way, be patient with Search and a few weeks after rotation, look for a nice entry on pack non-foils at or near $4.

I estimate by this time in 2020 (barring a judge promo reprint) Search for Azcanta will ascend back to $10 on the back of Modern playability and EDH appeal. With an entry of $4-5, this will make for a wonderful double-up if you have the patience to hold that long. It's also an equally appealing price-point to acquire copies for personal use (I'll be doing this for sure).

I suspect price memory will be strong for Search for Azcanta, so the window to the absolute floor may not last longer than a few weeks. Add this one to your watchlist and hop on for the ride!

There was an error retrieving a chart for Thaumatic Compass

For EDH purposes, my favorite from the BaB series is Thaumatic Compass. It does two things that a ton of EDH decks don't normally have access to - mana fixing and combat tricks. Being an artifact is such a huge advantage to its playability as it can slot into color combinations not normally able to do what Thaumatic Compass does (think AzoriusBoros or Rakdos, for example).

I'm a big fan of acquiring Thaumatic Compass Buy-A-Box Promo versions because the art is simply magnificent.

I am admittedly partial to the art on the BaBs; in fact, I am currently working on framing one of each Buy-A-Box Promo around the Ixalan Players Championship playmat - keep an eye on my Twitter and Instagram for when I post the photo of this coming to life!

Investment Plan - III

I'm looking to acquire a few copies of the Buy-A-Box Promos for $6-7 (NM) and I believe these can eventually return to a $12-15 price-point over time as the preferred option for EDH players. I do also love acquiring the pack non-foils for $1-1.50 with a plan of outing them at $5 in 6-12 months.

Best (BaBs) of the Rest

I could write an entire article around the Buy-A-Box series from Ixalan, but to save time (and words) so my editors don't yell at me (for real though, shout out to QS editors for being awesome!), I'm going to cover Primal Amulet, Growing Rites of Itlimoc, and Dowsing Dagger all at once.

These three cards all rank in the top 11 of the EDHREC Most Played from Ixalan list. In fact, Growing Rites and Amulet rank #2 and #5 overall while Dagger comes in at that #11 spot (for reference, Search is #8 and Compass is #6). My consensus feeling for all of these is that the non-foils are great acquisition targets roughly 6-8 weeks after rotation and that any of these will be a solid double-up prospect given 6-12 months (i.e. this time next year, any of these cards could very well be worth 2x what you pay in early-December 2019).

If you need any of the Ixalan flip cards mentioned for personal use or plan to spec on them, I recommend adding them to your watchlist and tracking their price trajectory. An additional indicator to follow is CardKingdom's buylist - as the prices fall on these, you'll notice CK will either drop their price in concert or remove the cards from their buylist altogether. Once they remove them, that is a good indication of a supply glut and rock bottom pricing should follow.

There was an error retrieving a chart for Sunbird's Invocation

Remember when Sunbird's Invocation was the hottest EDH spec since Paradox Engine? I do. I bought copies of this a long time ago when the foils still hovered around $9 and have taken a bath on them ever since. The card has plummeted 50% since I bought my four copies and in retrospect, this might be one of the worst single specs I ever chased.

But, good news for all of you! Sunbird's Invocation foils are sub-$5 and falling despite it being #7 on the aforementioned EDHREC list of most played from Ixalan. I'll admit I am hesitant to call this after other MTG finance outlets called it a long while back, but the hell with that mentality! Let's undo their wrongs and make a right.

Investment Plan - IV

I'm going to be watching for an opportunity to grab a handful of Sunbird's Invocation foils at $4. I think this is an entirely realistic price target despite the card seeing zero play in Standard and likely being unaffected at rotation. Buylists are extremely weak on the card already (CK is only paying $1.75 for NM foils currently) and I suspect this will fall further before having a chance to rebound back to $8-10 over the subsequent 6-12 months.

I'm focusing on foils for Sunbird's Invocation primarily because this type of card seems like it could be easily reprinted in a Commander precon where it wouldn't get a foil treatment. That said, non-foils are becoming an attractive bulk (penny stock) pickup in their own right, and if you have a shot at them for $0.50 or less I would take it.

There was an error retrieving a chart for Admiral Beckett Brass

Of this entire list, Admiral Beckett Brass might be my favorite card to acquire for the combination of personal use and speculative purposes.

The creature-type pirate is one I know has a deep following in the Commander circles and if we were to get more support for the tribe in #MTGEldraine and subsequent blocks (pirates are in fairytales, think Peter Pan) Admiral Beckett Brass would be a quick-hit spec. While this is entirely baseless at its roots, Admiral Beckett makes for a tough reprint that should only get more appealing in EDH over time (I wonder if pirates are the new ninjas from a tribe-lacking-enough-support perspective?).

Investment Plan - V

I will start off by saying I have no intentions of acquiring more than 2-3 foil copies of Admiral Beckett Brass. It won't be impacted much by rotation as it doesn't see any Standard play, and I suspect folks with this in their binder already may simply hold onto it in hopes of pirates getting more support for Commander (or Oathbreaker).

Notably speaking, the buylist on Admiral Beckett Brass is extremely strong - CardKingdom is paying $2 for NM foils while the TCG low is about $3. The spread of prices around the internet shows me that this card is relatively volatile and hard to keep in stock.

I like foils at $3 if you can find them but don't go deep on this one. That said, in my best estimate, copies at $3 will end up gaining faster than you might expect.

There was an error retrieving a chart for Jace, Cunning Castaway

I wasn't able to use the graph to depict the SDCC 2018 version of Jace, Cunning Castaway but that's the version I'll almost assuredly be speccing on (possibly sooner than rotation).

I love Jace, Cunning Castaway in general because its ultimate is easily achievable and it goes infinite with Doubling Season. It's also the type of card that just gets better with age as new interactions are created and it should be fairly difficult to reprint given its specific portrayal of Jace in the Ixalan storyline.

The card isn't seeing a whole lot of EDH play to date, so this call is based more on potential than existing data and results. That said, I like stashing a few of these (any version) away for a rainy day.

Investment Plan - VI

I am specifically going to be focusing my purchases on SDCC 2018 copies at $25. There are still copies out there at this older price despite the TCGPlayer most recent sold being at $33.

For the pack non-foil and foil versions, I see a good entry point at $1 and $4 respectively. Be patient with the pack versions as this card is one I suspect will drop further as binders empty out in coming months.

Some Runners Up for Consideration

Wrapping Up

However you decide to approach rotation, remember to be patient and use the available data to inform your purchasing decisions. Monitoring the cards you'd like to acquire on TCG and CardKingdom's buylist will help you time your purchases most optimally. Make sure to set a watch list by either adding the cards to your cart or to a simple spreadsheet - this can help you see the prices evolve over time and prepare you for the best time to get what you are looking for.

The list of cards I provided above is just what I'll be adding to my watchlist. What did I miss? Are there any I called that you think I shouldn't have? Hit me up in QS Insider Discord or on Twitter to continue the discussion!

See you all next week to talk about Rivals of Ixalan!


2 thoughts on “Chris’s Commander Corner: Ixalan Edition

  1. I run Arcades, The Strategist wall/defender tribal. I actually don’t run banner as it 1. Increases my creatures power making them more susceptible and 2. It actually changed more into a combo deck with 6 win conditions. If you are interested in my deck build just let me know.

    1. Feel free to drop a link here or DM me on Twitter! I actually completely understand not using Banner in Arcades walls decks. That’s one of the few creature types I wouldn’t run it in either simply because the draw power is so strong already.

      Most tribes in my experience don’t have good draw power and Banner being an artifact allows it to go in any color combo.

      Someone else mentioned they don’t use it in Edgar Markov vampires, but honestly I was surprised by that primarily because Vampires don’t have great access to draws (except maybe something like Necropotence/Greed).

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