It’s Sunday morning, and I am doing my daily check of MTG Stocks’ Interests page. I wish I could say that I’m surprised by the latest seemingly random Reserved List buyout, but these have become so commonplace these days that all I can do is chuckle and shrug.
Like many others, I assume, I rushed off to an array of domestic sites to search for any stock of Ancestral Knowledge at the old price, but to no avail. The buyout was fast and thorough this time. A shame too, because I actually like the art on this one and wouldn’t have minded owning one for my small “for keeps” collection.
Oh well, I had years to acquire a copy and I simply never prioritized it. There’s no need to sit here pining for a copy now as that isn’t productive.
What is productive, though, is what the rest of this article will be about. There are probably other Reserved List cards I would like to own a copy of but haven’t prioritized. Maybe I should look at grabbing my copies now before the next sudden buyout occurs and I’m left with the FOMO that ensues. Some playable Reserved List cards just may be the next buyout target.
Five Smart Reserved List Pickups
Obviously, I’m not considering this card for its artwork. Yuck! Rather, there are a couple of things I like about this Reserved List card from Mirage. First, it has the ability to generate a ton of creatures at instant speed. While 0/1’s don’t do a whole lot by themselves, there are many things one can do with so many creatures. Granted, this card sees almost no play in Commander according to EDH REC, but the card’s ability isn’t useless like some other Reserved List cards.
The second factor that convinces me this is a solid pick is the stock on TCGplayer. There are currently 59 listings—a surprisingly low number considering the minimal play this card sees. Maybe the card is more popular than I initially thought. Card Kingdom’s buylist is $2.05, so there must be some demand for this card.
Here’s my last piece of rationale for this card…get your tin foil hat ready. Check out this snapshot of some list Reserved List cards on the mothership’s website. Notice anything weird?
Most other cards on the site can be viewed by mousing over the card to view the pop-up image. But Carrion Ants (along with a couple others) is excluded. Surely, this site has been around for years now so any bugs would have already been caught and corrected, right? Even Invoke Prejudice has a mouse-over image stating the card is racist and its image has been pulled. What is so special about Carrion Ants, I wonder?
Other than dragons and phoenixes, Red isn’t known for flying creatures. That strength typically belongs to White and Blue. No worries, because Chaosphere and turn the world on its head! It essentially gives flying creatures non-flying and non-flying creatures flying, at least in how they can/can’t block each other.
I remember playing this card after opening it up in a booster pack a long time ago, when I first started playing Magic. While it doesn’t see much play in Commander today, I think it could find a home somewhere. If nothing else, it could slot into a chaos-type deck with random effects. The card is a couple bucks on TCGplayer and buylists for $1.75 on Card Kingdom’s site. While there are about twice as many copies for sale vs. Carrion Ants, the stock isn’t infinitely deep. If this is a card you’ve been wanting for a long time but haven’t prioritized, there’s no harm in picking up your playset sooner rather than later.
3. Phyrexian Purge
How much are you willing to pay in a game of Magic for a one-sided wrath effect? You can do it for nine mana using Plague Wind, for that’s a lot of mana. The cost is less prohibitive in Commander, I suppose, but still requires dedication of a turn’s worth of resources. It also takes a while to set up.
Enter Phyrexian Purge, a more versatile removal spell that can function as a one-sided wrath for just four mana! Granted, you have to pay three life per creature, but life is plentiful in Commander! The card is also flexible, in that you don’t have to kill every creature on the board—you could choose to kill only the three or four giving you the most difficulty at that point in time.
This one I really like because its stock on TCGplayer is relatively low: only 35 listings. Card Kingdom is paying $2.50 on their buylist, and I can see that climbing in the near future. The artwork doesn’t resonate with me all that much, but it has that classic Mirage feel to it. This one has potential to pop.
4. Flooded Shoreline
This Visions Reserved List rare isn’t likely to spike tomorrow. But I mentioned it here because it could see increased Commander play if more people knew about it. Erratic Portal (an $8 card) has some advantages to Flooded Shoreline, I’ll admit: it’s colorless and only requires one mana to activate. But in blue decks, I wonder if Flooded Shoreline is equally good.
Returning Islands to one’s hand can be annoying, but is only really problematic in early turns. Later on in the game, excess lands in hand can be pitched to card sifting effects like Compulsive Research. The advantage of this card over Erratic Portal is the lack of conditionality—that creature is bounced to its owner’s hand and there’s no mana that can be paid to prevent it. This means there are a good number of circumstances where this card is better than the Portal, the most important of which is that you can use Flooded Shoreline even if your opponent has mana open!
You can also use Flooded Shoreline multiple times in a turn and the enchantment only costs two to cast (vs. 4 for Erratic Portal). I’m envisioning playing this enchantment, bouncing my own Vendilion Clique at the end of opponent’s turn, flashing it back in, and then bottoming an Island to draw a card. Oh the value…
5. Bone Dancer
Let’s face it, this card is no Thada Adel, Acquisitor, but that doesn’t mean it’s unplayable. The obvious application of this creature is to give it some sort of evasion with another card, and then go to town resurrecting your opponent’s creatures one at a time. But there’s more to this card than meets the eye.
Imagine a multiplayer game of Commander, where alliances are being forged through diplomacy. A player can attack an ally with this card and, under agreement, forego damage to resurrect their creatures. There’s more to this creature than meets the eye, which is probably why this is a $3 card and buylists to Card Kingdom for $1.60.
Wrapping It Up and Honorable Mentions
In hindsight, I could have approached this article in a different way. Rather than going semi-deep into five cards, I could have kept my analyses brief and talked about ten cards. Or twenty cards. In reality, the Reserved List is filled with artwork gems, corner cases, unique effects, and Commander playable cards.
With minimal explanation, I have a few honorable mentions worth touching upon. First, there’s Bazaar of Wonders, which isn’t a great card but has sweet artwork reminiscent of Bazaar of Baghdad. Corrosion is still near-bulk, but could see play in BR Commander decks as a way of gradually removing all of the opponents’ mana rocks. Forbidden Ritual is also near bulk, but is kind of a precursor to Bolas's Citadel. Remember all those 0/1’s generated by Carrion Ants? I just found a good use for them!
Then there’s Goblin Bomb, Lotus Vale, Heat Stroke, Psychic Vortex, Dominating Licid, and (albeit more costly already) Lifeline. The list goes on and on—there are so many strange and interesting cards with powerful, unique effects on the Reserved List.
It’s impractical to rush out and buy a playset of every card on the list. But as the Reserved List garners interest from the speculator community again, now may be a good time to acquire those cards which you’ve been wanting but haven’t yet prioritized. It’s too late for me and Ancestral Knowledge, but don’t make the same mistake I did. I listed a handful of Reserved List cards that caught my eye, but there are many out there worth considering. Pick up what looks interesting to you, and ignore the rest, knowing you don’t have to worry about the sudden buyouts any longer!