As I mentioned in my last article, I wanted to start reviewing sets specifically covering uncommons whose market price exceeds $1.49. I go through a lot of bulk and it is very important when doing so to know which cards are worth picking out and setting aside. Knowing that I'm not the only one in this position, I'm taking the opportunity to both inform QS readers and refresh my own knowledge relatively consistently by covering which commons and uncommons are more valuable than bulk.
Due to the far higher number in existence of commons, it tends to take a lot more demand for them to hit this price point. I will point out any commons to also be on the lookout for in each block review, but the focus is mainly on uncommons, as they have a higher price floor and more potential to break out of the bulk status simply due to there being only three per pack.
Today, we will focus on Return to Ravnica block, which includes Return to Ravnica, Gatecrash, and Dragon's Maze. Ravnica is a fan favorite and WotC's return to it made it a big hit with both casual and competitive players alike. The first reprinting of the shock land cycle made sure packs were opened in droves, and I can honestly say that Return to Ravnica is the set I spent the most money I have ever spent cracking boxes, having purchased an entire case for my own personal use. While I'm enjoying this stroll down memory lane, I am sure most of you want me to delve into the financial aspects, so without further ado.
Return to Ravnica
Sphere of Safety was a pet favorite card of mine from this set. While I loved playing Standard at the time of RTR, the best deck was Jund, and I played that.
Sphere is a card whose power level is heavily influenced by synergy. If there aren't many enchantments worth playing at the time it falls by the wayside, but when there are, it can be extremely powerful. There is a reason that Propaganda, despite seven printings, is still a $4 uncommon.
Sphere of Safety typically reads like a one-sided Magus of the Moat against many Commander decks, and it is often a very important card in the decks that play it. It was reprinted in Commander 2016, but that isn't really a mass reprint, as it only came in the Stalwart Unity deck.
The biggest risk to this card is that its demand is almost exclusively from Commander, so any mass reprint will likely kill the value, thanks to Commander decks only ever needing one copy.
Not surprisingly, our other $1.50+ uncommon from R\TR is another Commander staple. More interestingly, this card has been reprinted four times, though two were Commander products and the other is Time Spiral: Remastered, none of which I would consider a mass reprint. I personally put a copy in every deck that plays red, thanks in large part to the prevalence of artifacts in Commander games. The fact that, unlike Shatterstorm, this card doesn't harm your own board is huge.
Watchlist – RTR
Shrieking Affliction has managed to dodge any reprints since its inception and is a four-of in the modern 8-Rack decks. While those style of decks rarely tend to be the best in any given format, they have a cult following, and they can prey on slower metagames. Should a modern 8-Rack deck do well in any major tournament, this is easily a card that jumps to $1.50 as players rush to pick up copies.
Golgari Charm – We already saw Izzet Charm skyrocket during the days of U/R Phoenix decks dominating Modern, so we know that with the right demand, the versatile charm cycle from RTR block can be worth money. That being said, Izzet Charm was a four-of in the deck, and most of the other options are far more likely to be a one- or two-of.
This chard has four additional reprintings, with the Ultimate Masters one being the one most likely lowering the potential price ceiling. The reason I like this card though is that all three modes can be extremely relevant in any given game of Commander. Many of the charms in the cycle have one or two good modes, but few have three modes that are equally valuable.
Rakdos Charm is another of the charm cycle which has three good modes for Commander games. Unfortunately, it too has seen a significant number of reprints, though in this case, all five are in somewhat limited-run products. A lot of more casual Commander players dislike running cards whose sole purpose is graveyard hate due to the fact that plenty of Commander decks have no use of their own graveyards. The ability to run graveyard hate when needed, but also artifact destruction and a powerful token army hoser makes this an auto-include in any R/B/X deck I build.
Boros Charm is arguably the highest-damage two-mana burn spell we have. It's one of the primary reasons that burn decks in modern splash for white. It's a very efficient Charm that also has a powerful anti-wrath mode that comes in handy as well. It currently has seven reprints, though only Commander Legends as a mass reprint, though that actually poses a bigger challenge because a foil extended art option is now available, which may eat into the demand of the original Gatecrash option.
If Boros Charm wasn't enough for burn players, Gatecrash also brought us Skullcrack, which while usually not a four-of in Burn decks, it can be critical against certain archetypes. The "damage can't be prevented" clause is extremely relevant when facing down any creatures with protection from red.
Here we have our lone Commander staple from the set. This remake of Pongify serves as one of a very small number of solutions that mono-blue decks have to permanently deal with a creature. While it has had three reprints, all of them have been in either Commander decks or a Guild Kit, which means minimal supply was added to the overall market.
Watchlist – GTC
Alpha Authoritytends to find a home in green-based Commander decks that have a hard time functioning without their Commanders on the battlefield.
Yet another charm from this block, Orzhov Charm has two very powerful abilities- reanimation and unconditional removal. With the low curve of decks like Death's Shadow in modern, this card's potential only grows with every powerful one-drop WotC prints. The fact that the removal half costs you life actually fits really well in a Death's Shadow style archetype. This is the type of card I could see pulling an Izzet Charm and spiking to $2 if it ever shows up as a four-of in a modern decklist.
Poor Dragon's Maze was a very unloved set. It didn't help that the power level of the set as a whole seemed completely toned down with the only breakout star being Voice of Resurgence, which in its heyday was a $50+ card – and the only card you could open in a box of Dragon's Maze to make your money back.
Back in late 2019 and early 2020, this card was selling for over $3 a copy, but due to a lack of in-person events throughout 2020, its price has dropped considerably. It also doesn't help that it is usually only a one-of in Legacy and Modern sideboards, but it is an important one serving as a nice utility answer to a lot of potential problems.
Watchlist – DGM
Thanks to cards like Cabal Coffers and Crypt Ghast, black Commander decks can often generate large amounts of mana, so mass life-drain spells tend to be popular ways of winning all at once. The fact that this card doesn't target and also has the word "double" on it adds to the power level. One must only be able to generate 24 mana to kill any number of opponents at 40 or less life, and it can often be used as a simple way to pad one's own life total when necessary.