Last week I wrote about how I leverage Magic to keep myself distracted during this pandemic. One of those suggestions involved organizing bulk and then sifting through commons and uncommons looking for nickels and dimes to ship to buylists. This remains one of my favorite time-killing activities.
Typically, this activity starts with a couple more meaningful cards that I intend to buylist. Recently I had a played Hellfire that I flipped to Card Kingdom while they were offering $105 on near mint copies ($73.50 for HP). After adding this card to my sell cart, I browse a few sets I have bulk from to see if I can ship anything additionally—I’m paying shipping already, so why not?
In repeating this practice numerous times, I’ve noticed a trend. After Standard rotates and the metagame shifts, commons and uncommons that see a significant bump in play—especially those from the previous year—see a measurable jump in value.
This week I’ll share some of the most valuable and played commons/uncommons in Standard as a way to encourage folks to keep the new stuff organized and to watch the metagame for clues on what to pick out of bulk.
Throne of Eldraine
Throne of Eldraine has to be one of the most overpowered sets in recent history. When was the last time so many cards from a single set were banned in Standard? Mirrodin? Urza’s Saga? It’s incredible. So far we’ve seen Cauldron Familiar, Escape to the Wilds, Fires of Invention, Lucky Clover, Oko, Thief of Crowns, and Once Upon a Time all banned.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that some of the most valuable commons and uncommons in Standard come from Throne of Eldraine. And with the recent turnover in the metagame, some prices may be surprisingly high. Keep in mind, I’m not looking at the Brawl Deck cards; I’ll only be focusing on cards you can open from a typical booster pack.
The leader of this group by far is Drown in the Loch. Card Kingdom pays a whopping $1.80 for this uncommon. Though a little less dominant, this is the Fatal Push / Path to Exile of Standard right now. Being two colors limits the decks this card can go in, but it’s still a four-of in any list that involves the Rogues strategy. In Rogues, this is basically a split card that says “destroy target creature” on one side and “counter target spell” on the other. For two mana!
Distantly behind Drown in the Loch are a few other popular Standard cards. This includes Mystical Dispute, All That Glitters, and Mystic Sanctuary, which buylist for $0.72, $0.36, and $0.24 respectively. Mystical Dispute is definitely going to remain relevant for the rest of its time in Standard. The other two are a little more meta-specific. Either way, these are definitely worth picking out of your bulk boxes and draft chafe to ship for a bump in your next buylist!
Theros Beyond Death
Theros Beyond Death wasn’t as powerful as Throne of Eldraine when it came to requiring Standard bans. Only Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath earned the boot from Standard from this set. But in my [now daily] Arena play, I come across a few commons and uncommons from the set that are worth picking.
Funny enough, a couple popular sideboard cards are some of the most valuable uncommons from Theros Beyond Death. Soul-Guide Lantern and Cling to Dust have both seen elevated play lately. They are effective at slowing the Rogues deck down while also disrupting your opponents’ plans with Escape cards. They also can disrupt a Call of the Death-Dweller type effect in a pinch. These two cards buylist for $0.60 and $0.25, respectively.
Other noteworthy uncommons from Theros Beyond Death include Hydra's Growth. Destiny Spinner, and perpetually-obnoxious enchantment The Birth of Meletis. These three cards can be shipped to a buylist for $0.52, $0.32, and $0.26 respectively, and should definitely be picked and shipped while you’re mailing in a buylist anyways.
I could repeat this exercise for newer sets. But the reality is, they’re still too fresh to merit really aggressive buylist pricing. I’ve been monitoring Ikoria commons and uncommons since the set’s release and there’s very little that can net you more than a quarter. Like a fine wine, these cards have to age a little bit before they are at their most valuable.
That said, I want to look at Ikoria, Magic 2021, and Zendikar Rising to identify which commons and uncommons are seeing the most Standard play. This will be a “watch list” of cards that are worth picking now in anticipation of a bump in value in a few months.
Topping the list is Heartless Act from Ikoria.
This premier removal spell can already be buylisted for $0.65. But I think that number is likely to climb. Like Drown in the Loch, this will become a go-to removal spell for many decks during its time in Standard. Right now Drown in the Loch buylists for nearly triple Heartless Act—I suspect this gap will close in the coming months. Heartless Act may have some restrictions in its utility, but it only requires one color, which is a huge plus for the uncommon.
If UR spells rises in popularity in Standard, Sprite Dragon could see higher prices. Right now it can be buylisted for $0.50—I’m not confident in a climb from there but I’ll be watching the Standard metagame closely to find out. The same can be said for Ikoria’s Bastion of Remembrance, which is very metagame dependent. Lastly, Zenith Flare could see a significant bump if cycling finds a spot in the Standard metagame.
From Magic 2021 I have my eye on a couple key cards that see extensive play in Standard. Cultivate is a reprint, but hasn’t been in a Standard set since Core Set 2011. I don’t know how much its million printings in Commander sets will hamper its potential, though. I expect the card will remain relevant and will climb a little bit, but I’m a bigger fan of a different Magic 2021 uncommon: Eliminate the Competition. This is yet another popular removal spell in Standard (noticing a trend?).
Lastly, again dependent on the metagame, Village Rites is likely worth picking and holding aside. The card only buylists for a measly $0.08 now, but this could get to a quarter if the metagame favors it during its lifetime in Standard.
Finally, there’s Zendikar Rising, Standard’s newest set. There are a couple cards I would definitely pick from bulk and set aside for a future buylist. Topping the list is…you guessed it, another removal spell! I would argue Bloodchief's Thirst is one of the best removal spells we’ve seen printed in quite some time. For one mana it can kill a pesky Scavenging Ooze or Edgewall Innkeeper. Or for the fully kicked four mana, this deals with nearly every threat in the game, including heavy hitters like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. This buylists for a quarter today, but I can see it selling for over a buck next summer.
Two other cards I’m keeping a close eye on from Zendikar Rising are Feed the Swarm and Ruin Crab. The former is yet another removal spell—it’s only a common, but it does something that black historically has struggled with: kills enchantments. Don’t forget Theros Beyond Death had a heavy enchantment theme. There are likely to be good targets for this sorcery-speed removal spell as long as Theros is Standard-legal.
As for Ruin Crab…well players love their milling strategies. This will always be popular in casual mill decks in any and all formats. Hedron Crab is worth $5. Think about that. Granted it was printed only in original Zendikar and the Mystery Booster set. Still, as long as it dodges reprint, Ruin Crab has got to be one of the safest penny stock plays. It should also get a boost from Standard play. I can see this uncommon buylisting for a buck or two this time next year.
Wrapping It Up
With more time on my hands, I’m noticing a trend when picking my Standard set bulk. When Ikoria was initially released, I picked through my bulk for a Card Kingdom buylist and there were only a couple cards worth a nickel. As the set has aged, the most played commons and uncommons have steadily climbed in price. The same has happened with Theros Beyond Death and Throne of Eldraine.
This trend will surely continue, and the most popular commons and uncommons from Zendikar Rising, and Magic 2021. In anticipation of this trend, I’d spend the time required to sift through any bulk you may have from this set and put aside some key cards. Removal spells seem to be in high demand right now given Standard is filled with tier 1 decks that like to attack. But mill strategies are always casual favorites, so keep an eye on Ruin Crab as well.
With this strategy, you’ll never break the bank. It can be time-consuming as well. But if you’ve got some spare time on your hands and want to feel like you’re being productive (especially during a pandemic), organizing your Standard bulk and keeping aside key picks for a rainy-day buylist just may be what you need. It’s one of my favorite activities for calming my mind, and I hope to continue the practice as each new set comes out.