Strixhaven, the plane that many have dubbed the “Harry Potter” plane, we see WotC focusing on schools of wizardry. The biggest takeaway I have gotten from all the announcements is that if the set is focused heavily on a wizard school, then it should obviously feature a lot of creatures with the wizard subtype. Throughout much of Magic‘s history, the wizard subtype was typically relegated to blue creatures, but more recently we have seen a lot of red creatures with this subtype. Our first few specs for Strixhaven are all focused on cards that play really well with wizards.
My first speculation opportunity is Mr. Kai Budde himself. Unfortunately, Voidmage Prodigy was outshone by the rise and dominance of the Psychatog decks back when the card was first introduced to Standard. However, the ability to sacrifice any wizard and counter any spell is definitely powerful and an ability that gets better as more wizards enter the card pool. It is important to note that Voidmage Prodigy was reprinted in Time Spiral and was a player rewards card. While you can obviously speculate on any of the copies, I would expect the Onslaught ones to have the most potential upside.
I myself picked up a few foil copies several years ago as a failed spec with Inalla, Archmage Ritualist. However, now maybe my redemption on this one. While some of the specs on this list have a higher risk of being reprinted simply due to their “genericness”, Voidmage Prodigy happens to also have the keyword Morph on it, so it’s far less likely to be reprinted into any standard legal set unless that set includes the Morph mechanic.
Another of my mostly failed Inalla specs. Repeatable card draw is always something desirable in Commander and the more wizards one has in play the more powerful this effect. While you do have to sink 4 mana into the ability, blue decks tend to save their mana to react to opponents a lot so holding up mana to potentially counter a spell and if no worthwhile spell is cast using that mana to draw multiple cards is right up blue’s alley. One of the biggest upsides with this card is it has had only a single printing way back in 2003, 18 years ago. I do see more risk with this speculation target than with the previously mentioned Voidmage Prodigy simply because it is generic enough to slot into a set and likely have minimal impact on Standard.
However, there is a lot of potential upside because the buy-in currently is very low and given WotC has been printing a lot of commander-friendly standard cards lately; any new legendary wizard commanders will likely cause a run on cards that play well with them. While I have no crystal ball, I think it’s almost 100% assured that WotC will print at least 1 if not multiple legendary wizards in this set. As I put my money where my mouth is, I did buy a couple foil copies as I feel those to be the safest bet with significant upside potential. I do accept that now that WotC has started printing a couple Commander decks with each set, this is a card that could easily be included in them, however, the buy-in is low enough that I feel it warrants the risk.
Back in 2017, Patron Wizard had spiked to $20+ and then slowly began its descent back downward. Its addition to “The List” in 2020 helped continue that downward trend. The ability to Force Spike repeatedly any spell your opponent casts is extremely powerful, however, the cost of keeping creatures untapped is also pretty high. Back in the days of Odyssey Standard, there was a deck dubbed “Harry Potter” that used Patron Wizard and cheap wizards to lock your opponent out of the game.
While I can see a decent upside to this card, the biggest issue to me is that the buy-in is already relatively high $10+ and if it were printed in one of the Strixhaven Commander decks its price would surely plummet.
Riptide Laboratory used to be a singleton in some Snapcaster Mage-based Legacy decks thanks to its ability to re-use the ETB effect of that particular wizard. It provides a decently powerful effect on its own that becomes far more powerful when wizards that have good ETB’s exist beside it. While there have been three printings of this card in Magic‘s history 2 of them are relatively smaller print runs than a normal set run.
Both Jumpstart and The List provided additional supply to the market place but the price effect has been pretty dramatic given that both of these options likely provided a lot fewer copies than one would expect. As mentioned repeatedly, this card’s generic enough that it could be reprinted in either Strixhaven or one of its Commander decks relatively easily, however, should it dodge a reprint this seems like a card that would easily jump in price by 50% or more.
Normally, I tend to avoid any cards that are very recently printed as the supply of them is considerably higher than many older rares or even uncommons. Naban, Dean of Iteration is an almost bulk rare, so the buy-in is basically at its floor. Your risk of loss is pretty minimal going in on a card like this. While nowhere near as powerful as Panharmonicon, it acts very similarly in a wizard tribal deck, but is 3% of the price. Being mono-blue means it can slot into a lot of potential decks, though it also means you would have to sacrifice a lot of options to play him as your Commander.
The key part of this card is the “Wizardcycling” ability which is entirely unique to this card only. Commander really loves tutor effects and a virtually uncounterable one is definitely a nice bonus. I originally had intended to suggest picking up foils of this card, but the buy-in is more than $10 per copy and one of Maro’s statements about this set was that a card that was originally printed in Future Sight would be included in the set, so while it’s a slim possibility, it is still a possibility. While foils would likely see the biggest jump they also represent a bit more risk than I prefer to take myself. Even the regular copies of this common are selling for $0.5+ and should it dodge a reprint this could easily be a $3+ common.
We should start seeing more Strixhaven spoilers on March 25th. Movement on some of these cards could happen relatively soon should something get spoiled that plays very well with them, so bear these wizards in mind in the coming weeks.