The bar is set high for any new card that hopes to see play beyond Standard, where it must compete with the best cards printed over nearly three decades. In the old days, a card reaching this next level seemed special, because only a handful of cards from each set would be important outside of Standard. With the past two years bringing us some of the most powerful sets ever, nowadays it seems assured that each release will provide many cards to Modern, Commander, and beyond.
So there were high expectations for Zendikar Rising, and it was no surprise when it started making a big impact on Modern and Legacy. It provided immediate staples like Skyclave Apparition and Scourge of the Skyclaves. It even rewrote the rules of the game with its modal double-faced cards, which created a whole new class of combo decks abusing them with cards like Goblin Charbelcher and Balustrade Spy. With their success, these cards have seen massive price gains. Skyclave Apparition was pre-selling for less than $2, but grew all the way to $10 before settling around its $7 price now. Scourge of the Skyclaves almost doubled from its $10 price to $18, although it has fallen back completely.
For anyone who bought in early, these cards brought the opportunity for significant profits. But Zendikar Rising prices are still being shaken out, and there’s opportuning remaining as players and the market begin to discover the true value of the set’s underappreciated gems.
Digging Deep into Modal Double-Faced Cards
The legacy of Zendikar Rising is its modal double-faced cards. We’re seeing them slowly become adopted in Modern as time goes on and their power is further understood and appreciated.
Glasspool Mimic stands out as one of the best double-faced cards in the set, and it’s being used in many decks. Recently it emerged as part of a blue splash in an 80-card Yorion, Sky Nomad Death and Taxes build, which reached the top 8 of the competitive Modern Showcase event on MTGO last weekend.
Glasspool Mimic is showing up a lot in decks with Aether Vial, so it was not surprising when another great home was revealed with its inclusion as 4-of in a Modern Merfolk deck. Merfolk has often used Phantasmal Image as a cheap Clone that can copy Silvergill Adept for extra value or just substitute for another Lord of Altantis effect. Glasspool Mimic provides that effect but in the land slot, where it helps pack the deck full of action.
Glasspool Mimic is showing up in just about any blue deck with Aether Vial, but also with Collected Company. It adds a high-impact 3-drop that works well with the enter-the-battlefield trigger creatures these decks tend to play.
Glasspool Mimic will also be a welcome addition to a ton of potential Commander decks. At around $2 it feels like a total steal given its uniqueness and long-term appeal.
It’s still being used very modestly, but I have very high hopes for Agadeem's Awakening. Compared to the other double-faced cards, especially the Mythics that can enter play untapped, it feels the most like a real build-around card, and one that might see play even without the land side. Agadeem's Awakening reminds me a lot of cards like Return to the Ranks or Rally the Ancestors that creature sacrifice decks are built to abuse, but in a better color for graveyard shenanigans and creature sacrifice. At some point, a deck like this will come along to really make the most of it as a four-of and show just how broken it is.
Beyond being a key mana source in the no-lands combo decks, as of now, Agadeem's Awakening is mostly being used as a bit of flavor and extra value in more normal decks. Even in that minor role, it’s having a huge impact with its ability to break open a game with massive value. It’s being used in various Death's Shadow decks as well as more traditional midrange, but an appearance in a couple different tribal decks has me hopeful. A one-of in a Zombie deck is notable, but a real step in the right direction is a two-of in a Rakdos Goblin deck, which includes sacrifice outlets like Skirk Prospector, which can fuel both the graveyard and the mana to cast it.
Pre-selling around $9, Agadeem's Awakening has already seen major growth towards its current price around $15, but I see plenty more to come as it starts seeing additional play.
Lately, I have been seeing a lot of love for Valakut Awakening, a powerful card selection tool. It’s much like a super-Thrill of Possibility that can replace a big chunk of cards and dig deep into the deck, but with the flexibility of being a land to help cast your good cards when you already have them.
One application of Valakut Awakening is in non-blue control decks, which lack the same quality card draw as blue. It’s a welcome addition to the Boros Prison strategy, which wants certain lock pieces against certain opponents that might be useless against others.
While Valakut Awakening might seem best for non-blue decks without good card selection, it’s actually showing up most often in blue combo decks, which welcome its instant speed. It’s now being used in the successor to Splinter Twin, the Kiki, Jiki-Mirror Breaker version, which has never quite been a top contender but could get there with the help of enough new support cards like this.
Valakut Awakening is a good step. In the past week, one player used the deck to earn a MTGO League 5-0 and a Preliminary 4-1, and made it all the way to the finals of the Modern Challenge, all helping put Valakut Awakening on the map.
I was a bit surprised to see Valakut Awakening showing up in bonafide Storm combo, but it too can benefit from the potential of Valakut Awakening to smooth its draws. Currently available for less than $3, I see a strong future for the card in a variety of Modern and Commander decks.
Storm has also picked up Silundi Vision, which grants the ability to dig deep for a spell, much like copies of Peer Through Depths the deck has played in the past. Silundi Vision digs a card deeper and comes with the whole other mode of being a land. In a deck almost entirely of spells, Silundi Vision offers great utility for finding what the deck needs, whether it be mana or action, and above all helps dig towards Gifts Ungiven.
Silundi Vision is great in strategies based around one specific spell, so it’s also being used in the Izzet Through the Breach-Emrakul, the Aeons Torn combo deck. This is a card that will be useful for years, whether it’s being slowly incorporated into decks like Takin’ Turns or Blue Scapeshift, helping find broken spells printed down the line.
As a card with applications in so many different blue decks, I expect Silundi Vision will slowly appreciate with time. Not a card I’m running to invest in, but definitely not one I’m leaving in the bulk pile. Under $1, foils are especially attractive because there are no alternate versions of the card like there are with so many others in the set.
It’s a similar story with Kazuul's Fury, another uncommon of note.
The double-faced cards play a big role in Zendikar Rising limited, and my favorite to play might be Kazuul's Fury. Its ability is a great finisher that often reads “You win the game”. Being so close to another card, Fling, which has seen its fair share of constructed play, I’ve felt like Kazuul's Fury is destined for some of its own. I was happy to see it being used in a red Hardened Scales deck in Modern, where beyond being a great finisher in a deck that can build large creatures, it can also unlock tokens from Hangarback Walker, counters from its Modular creatures, and plays great with The Ozolith, which the deck use a full set of.
It’s also simply a new Fling effect, which is a help to any Commander deck already playing Fling. A Commander staple with Modern applications adds up to an appealing card that’s definitely better than bulk.
Frankly, I am bullish on just about any double-faced card given their long-term potential and unlikelihood of reprint. Really none of them should be considered bulk, whether it’s uncommons pulled from true bulk or rares saved from the bulk rare bin. These cards are going to find themselves in all sorts of places in the future, whether as some added flavor or a major component.