This week on Legion’s Landing, Kristen takes us through a snapshot of good Commander cards to pick up for budget prices as Core Set 2021 pre-order season commences.  Like last time, she’ll be going into both dirt-cheap cards and ones that around $5 right now. Prices are correct as of the date of publication.

Every quarter, I review the latest Standard set and make my recommendations for cards to pick up. The series is aimed mainly at budget conscious players, and so ignores the obvious high ticket items like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, and tries to enable players to make confident low-end purchases that will have a big impact on their deckbuilding.

Budget Blitz: Ikoria Review

The singles market has continued to tick over despite the pandemic, and people are still buying plenty of shiny cardboard. It’s worth noting that a lot of these purchases are buy outs to artificially create demand; if you see random cards shooting up, in a lot of cases, they’ll settle again in due course.

I still think much of the product this year will appreciate well into the future, purely from the fact we’re being barraged with so much of it. Less of each set is being opened and drafted. If there are cards you’re interested in getting (particularly if foils are your bag) then I’d strongly advocate for picking stuff up while it’s cheap—provided you have the budget, of course. As mentioned previously, Heliod’s Intervention and Idyllic Tutor have continued to hold steady; and my prediction that we’d long since seen the bottom for Arcane Signet, even with a Commander printing, remains true.

As for Ikoria, most of the lower value rares have stayed low, in part due to the sheer amount of Collector’s Boosters being opened. These boosters are very good value; the combination of Triomes and C20 cards has created probably the best in the product line so far. It might be worth looking at picking up some Triomes if you haven’t already, as the main bulk of Ikoria has probably been opened now.

On that note, I’m really not sold on the prospect of the Core Set 2021 Collector Boosters. Whilst they are still a reasonable option if you tend to open two standard boxes just for cracking packs anyway, I think the lack of a good ancillary slot or a good rare land cycle will ultimately hurt these. They seem very boom or bust, and will probably end up similar to the Throne of Eldraine edition; amazing if you open a lottery card like an alternate art Ugin, but prone to feeling a little flat.

The two cards I picked to keep an eye on from Ikoria were General Kudro of Drannith and Lurrus of the Dream-Den. Kudro has stayed relatively flat so far, but I pegged this as being a longer term investment, as I think it needs the right Standard environment to truly shine. Or, you know, Standard being played on paper at all.

Lurrus was a good pick, and the right time to order was to pre-order it. Unfortunately, the adjustment to the companion rules has nuked this particular prospect from orbit. It’s still a solid EDH card in the 99, and in Standard decks, so I can’t see it dropping below its current $5 price. Overall, we’re back where we started.

Temple of Epiphany by Adam Paquette.

Core Set 2021: Cheapest of the Cheap

Core Set 2021 has continued the trend set by Ikoria in offering cheap cards that are super playable in Commander. First off, an honorable mention goes to the Temples. Thanks to this additional reprint, the enemy cycle of temples now coast mostly below a dollar. That’s a great price for one of the only taplands I’ll advocate playing in Commander, and should make them really easy to pick up. They’re great to fill out decks with, especially as a collection grows, and the supply of your better lands starts to dry up.

My first pick is Idol of Endurance. It’s a really sweet card all in all, and offers a risk free way of reanimating smaller creatures. The fact that the creatures exiled under it return to the graveyard if it leaves play is a step up from older-style Magic cards, and the fact we have this on a mono-White card is encouraging. I like this in any deck that cares about hatebears or other smaller utility creatures, like Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant. There are a plethora of smaller bodies this thing can reanimate, and a lot of White, Orzhov and Abzan decks are going to love it. It’s pre-ordering for dirt cheap, and I know I’m going to get myself at least one foil copy.

An EDH staple that’s been outshone in recent years by the likes of Soul-Guide Lantern, Tormod’s Crypt remains a strong pickup purely because of the fact it’s free. There are as many decks that want to take advantage of free artifacts as there are decks that appreciate the card draw from the Lantern or Relic of Progenitus, and so this remains a fantastic option. It’s especially great to see a reprint as interest in cEDH and Canlander rises, as it’s a highly valued card in more powerful metagames.

This card. Oh my.

A welcome addition to Xenagos, God of Revels, and a bunch of other combat focused decks that enjoy pumping a lethal creature—or just a strong, evasive Commander—Unleash Fury is pretty darn tasty. The fact you can grab this off of Sunforger is kind of exciting too, and it’s a card I can imagine many won’t see coming. Combat tricks tend to underperform in Commander, but when they can make a creature wearing a few bits of equipment that much more lethal, they start to pique my interest. It’s probably good on Infect creatures, too. Shudders.

Cultivate is nearly as ubiquitous as Sol Ring, and is a card that’s always in need of reprints to keep it accessible. The fact this has some spicier alternate art versions will help the price of this eternally playable card stay super low, and if you needed to top up, now’s the time. It’s a staple for a reason. What more can I say?

Soul Sear is perhaps one of the best pieces of mono-Red removal we’ve seen for quite some time. I’d been running Lava Coil in some budget decks recently, and I think this is better even without the exile. It’ll hit a large percentage of the most popular Commanders, and as a bonus, can burn through indestructible creatures like some of the Theros Gods. If you’re in mono Red, this is probably one of the better removal options.

Core Set 2021: Five Dollar Shake

With Collector Boosters impact on the market now a known quantity, it’s a lot harder to find many rares that are around $5 that will trend upwards—there’s simply too many copies in the wild after the set releases. Combine that with reduced paper play, and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that’ll appreciate much in this region. Still, there are a number of reprints and new cards this time around that I think will be at their cheapest right now, and will eventually go up—some faster than others.

Mangara is the first example of White card draw we’ve seen from the push into fresh design space that was prompted by the vocal campaigning of the last couple of years. It’s currently a $4 mythic, and one I can only see going up. Despite being seen as one of the weaker colors, there are plenty of White decks out there. Mangara is a flavorful and exciting card that will fit in many archetypes, from lifegain to pillowfort. Once people playtest this, they’ll want to pick up extra copies at the low entry point, and that’s when this card will go up.

Heroic Intervention has been a $15 card for a long time. It went up $10 in only a year after rotation, and so it’s not unreasonable to think it’ll see the exact same trajectory after it rotates again in another year’s time. It’s gonna be pretty cheap again thanks to the reprint, and is preordering for under $5. Given the cards price history, I imagine the impact of less product being opened this year will mean this card bounces back easily enough.

The newer artwork of Solemn Simulacrum is an attractive prospect to many established players, especially when the chance to pick one up in foil is going to be available for the first time. Between foils of this art, and the rarer showcase treatment, the standard copies of this will be thankfully cheap and plentiful. This is the ideal situation for such a popular EDH staple; if you want a couple more, now’s a great time.

We’ve already touched on graveyard hate being important, but good old “Scooze” is a great card to add to your Green decks. It can selectively remove problem cards, help you be mana efficient, and provide a great source of incremental lifegain. If you’re in a +1/+1 counters deck, it’s also got bonus utility. Thanks to its viability in both Modern and Legacy, reprints help to keep the price on this card down, and especially once paper events come back into the picture, the price on this will bounce back.

Speaking of playable Legacy cards, Containment Priest is also excellent in EDH; I’d argue it’s getting better. The amount of ways to cheat spells and creatures into play in recent years has increased, and as a hate bear, I really like this card in certain metagames. The historical price of $20 will probably never be reached again, in part because this card was always pricy due to lack of supply. Still, the additional reprinting after Ultimate Masters has made this card firmly affordable to budget players.

Rousing Read by Campbell White.

Wrapping Things Up

There’s some great cards in Core Set 2021, and hopefully, the Collector’s Boosters will help to bring down the price on cards like Ugin to make them more available. There are a good amount of EDH playables in the set, and Wizards clearly weren’t lying when they said it was the Year of Commander.

Until we get paper events again, I don’t see prices moving upwards very quickly. Whilst it’s true that I write this Budget series mainly for the perspective of players looking to power up their EDH decks for cheap, I think it’s worth communicating that any cards that are worth investing in this year won’t see a return for good while. We need to get out of the pandemic, and the recession, for things to truly start appreciating at a good rate again. So, in short: while it’s good to pick up copies of Leyline of the Void in advance of them rising after rotation, that process will probably take longer than usual.

Jumpstart is an interesting one, and one I don’t feel like we can pass judgment on until we see some box openings. The rate of duplication, and the rate at which certain drops appear, is not yet fully understood; so it’s too early to say how much of an impact these reprints will have on card prices. My gut says it’ll be less than Mystery Booster, and that any impact we do see will be more due to the overall softening of the market from Wizards‘ willingness to reprint cards than it will be from the reprints themselves.

Let me know your thoughts on Twitter—what are you aiming to pick up? I’ll probably revisit this column again before Zendikar Rising to talk about Jumpstart, Double Masters and rotation, so stay tuned.

Based in the UK, 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.

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