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Uncommon Report #8 – Odyssey Block

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Odyssey block is one I can look back very fondly on. It came out the year after my parents had moved us down to South Carolina from our home state of Ohio. My brother and I had joined a small playgroup who had started playing before school started in the school's orchestra room, which thankfully, one of our players' moms taught in. Thus we were safe from the persecution that typically followed the nerdy crowd of the early 2000s. I mentioned in my last article how Invasion block was the first sanctioned release event I ever played in. Odyssey block was the first block that I actually began to try to build competitive decks to play in our local Friday Night Magic (FNM) and Saturday tournaments. While the internet was definitely around back then; Magic Online (MTGO) did not yet exist, buying cards online was virtually non-existent, and prices were defined in the latest copy of Scrye or InQuest magazines. Odyssey was the set that brought us the Psychatog decks that dominated standard. It was my first taste of control, and thanks in large part to the fact that most versions of the deck ran 10 rares main, it was very cheap to build. Imagine playing a World Champion caliber deck nowadays with only 10 rares total main deck and two in the board. As I was a Freshman/Sophomore in high school during this decks heyday, I had very little spending money so this deck was truly a godsend to anyone in my predicament. I was able to have a good bit of success at my local FNMs and those prize packs allowed me to build up my Magic collection when I had no other means of doing so. At this time, I started to really get into trading cards and got a few lucky breaks. Unfortunately, we had a thief in our community and my trade binder was stolen twice, once from behind the counter. So I rebuilt my binder twice and learned to be very cautious when dealing with people.

Value Targets When Picking Bulk

As I've mentioned in previous installments of this series, 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.  I set my target on uncommons whose TCG Market price exceeds $1.49. Knowing that I'm not the only one in this position, this series allows me the opportunity to inform QS readers and refresh my own knowledge. So what does Odyssey block have to offer?

Odyssey

There are 9 uncommons in the set that meet my $1.49 requirements.


This reprint from Weatherlight allowed one to play a Reanimator build in Standard during its heyday, as we got both this card and Entomb at rare in Odyssey. Its current value is entirely thanks to Commander play and the plethora of graveyard-based decks. The fact that there are six printings (one as recent as Ultimate Masters), and the fact this card still sits around $5, shows just how essential it is in any graveyard-based Commander deck.


This is a pet favorite of mine. Way back in 2013, I built a Kaervek the Merciless punisher-based Commander deck and this card surprised a lot of people with how powerful it is. Thanks to having no reprints, and a mechanic (land destruction) that Wizards tends to shy away from, the chance of a reprint is somewhat lower than other single print older uncommons. That being said, any reprint would halve the value of this card at a minimum.


While this card does see play in some cEDH decks, it was also a requirement for older Legacy Dredge decks, acting as one of the few lands in the deck, and a powerful (if not uncounterable) card draw dredge 18.


Here we have a nice bulk uncommon that spiked hard thanks to the return of Dwarves in Kaldheim. I can happily say that I managed to sell 10x copies back when they hit $7+ each. I always sell into this type of hype and the majority of the time I make far more selling early than on waiting.


I'm honestly surprised this card meets my requirements; not because it isn't good, but because it's been reprinted into oblivion and numerous other versions are below the $1.49 threshold. It has 12 total printings, though to be fair, the Odyssey printing is the original. It just proves how powerful and important tutor effects are in the Commander format.


Sadly, our Trader Tools price graphs don't go back past Return to Ravnica (2013), because this card is back to the price it used to be when Legacy Standstill decks were all the rage. For almost six years it languished at under $3 and has finally returned to near $10. This is another card like Price of Glory that would get crushed should it get reprinted.


Casual players love them some Squirrel. Even I didn't realize this card was a $1 card for years before it spiked to its current $13 price tag. Its current price is heavily influenced by the return of the squirrel creature type with Modern Horizons 2. This is one of those cards where I would list every copy I could find that I owned, as its price is heavily influenced by scarcity.


Another Commander all-star. It serves as both a mana-free sacrifice outlet and a way to gain massive card advantage. It has only two other printings, Mystery Boosters, and Duel Decks: Izzet vs Golgari.


One of the original "combos" with Earthcraft and a standard powerhouse when combined with Opposition. It has the benefit of creating Squirrels, which as we know is a casual fan favorite.

Odyssey- Watchlist


While this card might seem unassuming, it was actually a powerful card during it's time in Standard. It could be an unblockable threat OR hold off any creature without trample or evasion. It happens to have been updated to be both a human and a cleric, two creature types that have a lot of relevance throughout Magic's history. This is also its only printing.


While the ability on this card seems a bit over-priced to break out in most formats, Commander is a format where one's graveyard often acts as a second hand, and the ability to sacrifice creatures is often desired.

Torment


A Commander staple in any deck that plays black. It combos with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to make large amounts of mana in a color that is often mana hungry. Since its original printing in Torment, it was reprinted as an uncommon in Planechase and upgraded to a mythic rare in Modern Horizons 2. It also has an FNM promo printing which is currently the most valuable.


Powerful in Standard, this card fell by the wayside for the longest time. Its price resurgence is solely due to Wizard's claim to start including Pauper options at major events, and while this card has always been printed as an uncommon, it was printed as a common on MTGO, which is where Pauper's card legality comes from.


One reason that enchantments tend to be so desirable in commander games is that both red and black are tricky to get rid of, thus you have the potential of having something untouchable. Because of this reason, it can often be important to play mass enchantment removal to serve as a check against decks that play too many enchantments. Cleansing Meditation is a way to do that AND not hurt yourself, sometimes actually helping yourself in the process thanks to so many cards that have ETBs that trigger with enchantments.




The whole Tainted cycle of lands from Torment was included to help the black decks splash additional colors during their time in Standard. However, the fact that these often act as dual lands that enter untapped means that they are a good fit in any B/x Commander deck, and can even be slotted into tri-color decks that include black. These three are the ones most often paired with black in Commander.

Torment -Watchlist

Unfortunately, there aren't any cards I would consider "keeping an eye on" in this set.

Judgment


Thanks to the previously mentioned love for Cabal Coffers + Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, this card in your graveyard often makes your creatures unblockable.


A powerful reanimator spell that doesn't cost life, I actually don't see a lot of non-pre-built commander decks run this card, but it provides redundancy for reanimator-style Commander decks.


This card always jumps up whenever a new "coin flip" card is spoiled. It does admittedly add some "spice" to any given Commander game and certainly satiates anyone who likes randomness.


Back in Legacy's heyday, this was a $15+ uncommon, serving as a sacrifice outlet that could be utilized from the graveyard in Dredge decks. It was often critical to wait until you could cast one or more copies of this card and then go off safely against blue-based decks; given that many Dredge builds ran only one or two Dread Returns. Thanks to Legacy's fading into obscurity and a few more recent reprints, this card's value has tanked to about 10% of that former value.


Haste is often an undervalued mechanic and tends to be found mainly in aggressive decks. However, the fact that this ability is granted from the graveyard and not by any permanent that can be destroyed by an opponent means it is a more reliable haste source than most others.


This card went from obscure to over $1.49 thanks almost solely to the revival of the "dwarf" creature type in Kaldheim. I expect it will drift back down in price as that excitement continues to fade.

Judgment -Watchlist


I'll be the first to admit this is a pet card of mine. I actually ran a copy in my Legacy RIP Miracles build back in the day. My local metagame had a lot of aggro decks and the Rest in Peace + Energy Field lock ended a lot of games, however, it did nothing against the Sneak and Show decks running Emrakul, the Aeons Torn which would annihilate most if not all of my board. The only way to beat Sneak and Show was to prevent them from actually letting them resolve either of their namesake cards; given that the rest of their deck was based on finding those cards and counterspells, to help force them through was often difficult. Web of Inertia served as a powerful answer that you could put into play off of a Show and Tell. It helped because most Sneak and Show pilots knew that Rest in Peace did nothing to their deck if they never stopped it from resolving.


Easily the most ignored and obscure of the Incarnation block from this set, first strike is a powerful ability to grant all creatures. It has only the Judgment and a Timeshifted printing, so there is potential should we get any Commander players that really want first strike.

Previous Uncommon Reports

  1. Kaladesh Block
  2. Return to Ravnica Block
  3. Innistrad Block
  4. Shards of Alara Block
  5. Zendikar Block
  6. Theros Block
  7. Invasion Block

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