This week on Legion’s Landing, Kristen takes us through a snapshot of good Commander cards to pick up for budget prices as Theros Beyond Death releases. Like last time, she’ll be going into both dirt-cheap cards and ones that are under $5 right now. Prices are correct as of the date of publication.

It’s nearly time for Theros Beyond Death prerelease. It’s a great time to take stock and think about what cards are good pick ups now, which ones are worth holding off on, and also any cards in other sets that might warrant some attention. Before we dig in, let’s take a look at my previous predictions:

Budget Blitz: September Review

First off—Embercleave did indeed far exceed the pre-order price of $5! At its highs, it managed $20, and is now hovering around $13.

Search for Azcanta has gone up from $7 to $10-12, thanks to Pioneer’s inception. Most cards have moved as predicted, with some staying flat, like Treasure Map and Thaumatic Compass. There’s still time to pick up Echo of Eons, and it might be that the price has been buoyed somewhat by lost value from Wrenn and Six‘s ban in Legacy. Altar of Dementia remains flat, but could easily spike—it just needs the right combo. Casual favorites Lyra Dawnbringer and Helm of the Host remain up, and Mox Amber is proving a strong investment. Overall I’m pretty pleased with those predictions.

Theros Beyond Death—Cheapest of the Cheap

If you’ve read my Budget articles previously on Master of Magics, you’ll know that I’ll never recommend a bad card—just playable stuff. First up, a selection of commons and uncommons that can easily see play. Foils should be relatively inexpensive if you’re so inclined, so it might be an idea to pre-order one or two to sate your inner magpie.

  • Return to Nature is a card that you should really have a copy of by now. It’s an excellent budget Commander card, with some great flexibility. It almost always has a target, and is a great way to include some anti-graveyard measures into your deck without it being a “dead” card.
  • Speaking of graveyards, Soul-Guide Lantern is a great new piece of tech. Cheaper than Relic of Progenitus, this thing hits something important when it comes in, and can then nuke all of your opponent’s yards while leaving yours intact. The added ability to cycle this makes it a great card, and one I’d be likely to try over Tormod’s Crypt should I not care about Storm count—and especially if I’m cooking some eggs. Foils are a bargain right now at less than $3.
  • Rise to Glory is a great budget recursion card. Trading a dime for the ability to recur an aura and a creature is decent, and functions as a slightly cheaper option than the flexible Obzedat’s Aid. Two cards for five mana is pretty good, and when you can bring back something like Sun Titan with Gift of Immortality, you’re onto a winner.
  • Pharika’s Libation offers enchantment “removal” in mono-Black. Whilst it’s not the best card, and one that might not make the cut at higher levels, it’s a good idea to pack this at your LGS once the set is released—you’ll be seeing a lot of enchantments across the table from you.
  • Finally, Destiny Spinner is a card you should check out. A two-mana 2/3 is a good rate, especially when it says that creatures and enchantments you cast can’t be countered. Vexing Shusher is a powerhouse, and this budget alternative is sweet. The activated ability is gravy. Foils are nice and cheap!

Theros Beyond Death: Five Dollar Shake

The impact of showcase frames on rare prices for Throne of Eldraine was greater than I predicted, and so some of the cheaper options at release didn’t rise as much as they might have if showcase cards didn’t exist; a lot of collectors and Commander players want to bling out their decks, after all. That said, extended frames aren’t for everyone, and the price for Collector Boosters is higher this time around by about 20%, so who can really say. The next few cards are all pre-ordering for between two and five dollars.

  • Idyllic Tutor is a monster of a reprint. A previously $35-40 card is preordering for around $5! Granted, the original printing is still holding its price, but price memory is a real thing, and this card will eventually spring back. If you’ve been waiting to pick them up, don’t sleep on it—the burgeoning Commander population will snap these up and keep the healthy supply from ever outstripping demand.
  • Nylea, Keen-Eyed isn’t as splashy as her previous printing, but she’s still a great Commander card in the 99. Cost reduction is a bigger advantage than it seems, especially stapled to an indestructible permanent. Adding on some card filtering makes her very playable. I’m betting people sleep on this one, and eventually she’ll command a higher price due to her mythic status.
  • Setessan Champion is the latest “enchantress” card to see print. The advantage on this version is that the body gets bigger too. I expect that this may go up if it sees Standard play, as being able to draw a card after playing a Pacifism is pretty nuts. Even if it doesn’t break $5, the foils are currently available to pre-order for around that price, and I bet that price will go higher.
  • The Intervention cycle is a treasure trove of flexibility and utility for Commander players. The three I’m highest on are the Esper ones—the Red one isn’t really EDH material, and the Green is a little overrated—I’d rather play Hour of Promise, I think. Heliod’s Intervention, Thassa’s Intervention, and Erebos’s Intervention are all stellar pick ups for Commander, and can be snapped up for less than $5 in foil. I don’t expect any of them to really spike above this right now except with the foil multiplier.

The Theme Booster only cards aren’t especially exciting, except for very specific archetypes. That said, Deathbellow War Cry has combo potential and short supply, and Victory’s Envoy is a fairly unique effect in White; so those are my picks for what to pick up here—they’re pre-ordering between $10-20. I’d definitely hold my breath on these though, as I think they’ll go sub-$10 in the weeks after release.

Beyond Theros

Beyond Theros, there are some other things to keep an eye on. The Throne of Eldraine Brawl decks have just had a second printing, and with it, the prices of a lot of Brawl only cards have likely hit their bottom. With Throne of Eldraine Collector Boosters now drying up, and the Brawl decks unlikely to receive a third printing, the only way to go is up. Faerie Schemes is a particularly attractive prospect, containing Watery Grave and Smothering Tithe; if you can find a sealed one for cheap, it’s a great pickup. As for singles, most of these cards won’t go any cheaper, and some, like Korvold, Fae-Cursed King will continue to see Standard potential.  If you at all want to play with the Jund dragon in Commander before rotation, now’s the best time to get one.

Guilds of Ravnica is likely approaching the end of its print run if previous sets are anything to go by, so cards like Assassin’s Trophy and Shocklands are unlikely to be as low as they are now for quite some time. Thanks to Pioneer, there’s going to be a slower drop off in Standard prices again for the foreseeable future, which is pretty disappointing for Commander players wanting more mana-fixing lands for their collections.

With the year of product ahead, the Commander market will be heavily tested to absorb so many new things. On top of Standard sets, it’s the year of Commander, and, with more Secret Lair product on the way for the rest of the year too, it’s gonna take a real beating. I’m getting flashbacks to 2016 in Pokemon, a year in which the monthly Mythical Collection drops slowed the market down to a halt. By the mid-point of the year, the singles market crawled to a halt, and the mountains of product that scalpers sat on wasn’t moving either. A select few pieces from that year are worth something, but many are now failed investments barely making back RRP.

Magic thankfully has a stronger secondary market, so I can’t see the glut of product affecting the secondary market as severely, but I am still concerned for singles prices. Whilst Pokemon has a less stable post-Standard market, the comparison is more relevant because of the shakiness of the market thanks to the introduction of Pioneer. Commander favorites that aren’t staples—i.e., niche cards for specific archetypes or colors, and cards played in lower tiers of Modern that don’t see Pioneer or Commander play will likely be hit the hardest.

The greatest drop in price will likely be cards that fall into the categories above that are also being reprinted in the Mystery Booster product that hits stores this Spring. I expect a lot of these cards may eventually snap-back, but not immediately. It’s less that there’s a lack of demand for them, but more that the incoming oversaturation of product will mean cash is stretched thin. Power creep is another concern, and one I’m expecting to cover in an upcoming article. Basically, the safe cards to sit on right now are those played in both Commander and also Modern or Pioneer.

Closing Thoughts

It’s a weird time in Magic finance, and I think that we could see prices for Commander singles start to drop again. The sheer amount of product entering the market, combined with the general cooling off on the collectibles market, could lead to a year where prices dip before snapping back. If that’s the case, it might be a good time to buy into certain formats. Wallet fatigue was already heavy last year, and this year is looking to continue that trend. I’ll be interested to see the effect that price increase and availability of Collector’s Boosters will have on Theros cards.

If you’re looking to buy any cards for Commander decks, I’d probably wait a little longer for those that are less universal and more niche. Whilst newly printed cards in upcoming sets might cause things to spike, there’s still time for most prices to hit a new low before the year of Commander really ramps up.

Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up. Based in the UK, she works as a software developer, and her love for the Legion is second only to her appreciation for Lord of the Rings and Mass Effect.

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