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Traderous Instinct – Budget Mythic Roundup

The Orange Rush

There’s something incredibly tantalizing about that mythic rare expansion symbol.

It’s darker than the gold symbol that regular rares have, which makes it seem richer and fuller. All the lite beer cheapness has been distilled away, leaving only the most powerful parts of the card.

And when a mythic rare hits, it hits big. Consider this: 33 cards in Standard sell for more than $10 (average price) online. 27 of them are mythics, 5 of them are fetchlands, and the last is Stoneforge Mystic.

It’s pretty easy to see where the money we spend on Standard cards ends up.

This is why “hitting” on a bulk mythic that’s ready to explode in value is the best thing you can do to your Magic financial portfolio. Sure, you might have gotten some value out of Contested Warzone jumping from $2 to $5 if you bought enough of them. And it wasn’t bad when Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas jumped from $30 to $50 either, though you had to tie up some serious investment capitol to make money on him and at this point I hope you’ve flipped your copies or are planning on holding him for the long game.

But if you’re after El Dorado, if you want to make a score that’s going to pay for your next year of Standard tournaments, then you want to be in on the ground floor of a mythic going from zero to hero. You want to be the guy or gal that bought fifty copies of Frost Titan, Avenger of Zendikar, or Eldrazi Monument before the initial rush.

That is why it is always important to keep tabs on the cheap mythics, even when formats seem otherwise stale or defined. That way, if you start to hear rumblings about a new deck or some new combos, you’ll already have a framework with which to make an informed decision about whether or not to speculate.

This week, we’re going to look at the cheapest mythics in Standard and see if there are any juicy targets for a breakout hit. Interestingly enough, when a budget mythic hits, the price often shoots past where the card would have been had it started out in the $6-$8 range.

This initial hype period is the best time to sell – unlike with legacy cards, Standard price increases never last. Don’t you wish you sold your Grave Titans right after Worlds? I do, too.

The Anatomy of a Hit

What turns a mythic flop into a mythic hit? I propose that the following factors are usually responsible:

1) The card’s most direct historical comparison was a tournament bust or nonfactor.

Eldrazi Monument’s best historical comp was probably Akroma’s Memorial, a popular Casual card that never saw any serious play. Since a card like Kargan Dragonlord compares favorably with Figure of Destiny, it was easier to analyze. Thus, most deckbuilders and speculators initially dismissed this card as an artifact that costs 5 without being a threat or answering one.

Turns out that making the rest of your team into unstoppable robots was good enough.

2) The card’s raw power is temporarily masked by its awkwardness/cost

Avenger of Zendikar was a surprise hit because huge big green monsters rarely make an impact in Constructed. I wager most people were initially scared away by all the numbers in its top right corner. The card broke out once the Standard environment became probably the most ramp-friendly in history.

3) The card is overshadowed by a seemingly more powerful card in the same set.

Hello, Frost Titan and Inferno Titan. If you were smart, you could have bought these for $2-$3 each during release week. If you weren’t, you compared them to the titans in the other color and decided that there was no way all 5 cards in a cycle could be good.

4) The card is a plant for tech that hasn’t been released yet.

In retrospect, we should have seen Vampire Nocturnus coming. Eye of Ugin, though, was stone cold obvious. It didn’t matter – both cards went from $2-$3 to $15+ overnight.

The $3-or-less Rodeo

Today, we’re going to look at every mythic in Standard that sells for $3 or less on Channel Fireball.

Why $3? To me, that represents the overall price of a pack. Yeah, they’re cheaper than $3 if you buy a box and almost $4 if you buy them in a store, but in the end I think the price averages out to around $3 per pack.

If a card is worth more than the price of a pack, then it has seen some degree of success and it isn’t a true deep sleeper. Yeah, Nirkana Revenant and Khalni Hydra haven’t exactly torn up Standard, but you’re not sad when you open them, right?

It also means that you’ll have to make a significant investment if you want to speculate. By all means, buy your local store out if any of those $4-$7 cards start to see significant play in a tier-1 deck, but I’m after even bigger game: the true zero to hero transformation. The kind of gain that dreams are made of.

So let’s take a plunge into the shallow end of the pool and see if we can find some breakout hits:

Admonition Angel
Admonition Angel – $1.99

This card will maintain long-term value due to its status as a Casually playable Angel, but it hasn’t caught on yet in Standard. Remember that it is effectively a seven drop, due to the fact that you will want to play a land right after casting it most of the time. If it’s a fetchland, all the better.

Look for this card to soar in price if Genesis Wave becomes tier 1 before Worldwake rotates. That is the only real home I see for it, even though Zvi spent months trying to fit it into mythic. In the end, I doubt this card will hit, but it is one of the few on this list with actual potential.

Verdict: Breakout possible but unlikely.

Cast Through Time
Cast Through Time – $0.99

This card does nothing when it hits the board, costs seven mana, and requires you to have an instant or sorcery spell in your hand in order for it to do ANYTHING. And even then, you have to wait at least one more turn before the rebound happens. Play Pyromancer Ascension instead. Or play a deck with better cards.

Verdict: Almost no chance

Chandra Nalaar
Chandra Nalaar – $2.49

Interestingly, Chandra Ablaze actually costs more than $3 and isn’t on this list. That’s fine, because this is the more intriguing Chandra for tournament play anyway.

The problem with Chandra Nalaar, though, is that she is too expensive for creature removal, and protecting her for three turns in order to Plague Wind + Fireball your opponent is only good in the slowest of control matchups. Even then, she’s only good when you’re either ahead or at parity. If she hasn’t broken out in the four years she’s been Standard legal, I doubt she’ll do it over the next few months. I can only home

Verdict: Might show up in some more sideboards, but that’s it.

Comet Storm
Comet Storm – $1.49

In my mind, the big reason this card never took off was because it was the world’s worst spell to cascade into. That didn’t stop it from being a powerful weapon in block, where Bloodbraid Elves weren’t legal.

By the time Jund left Standard, though, the format had become defined by a bunch of 6/6s swinging into each other. Maybe the time for Comet Storm has finally arrived? I hope so, but time is certainly running out. Even if it does hit, the price will certainly be dampened by the fact that this was the prerelease card.

Verdict: Powerful card. Possible sleeper.

[draft]Eternity Vessel[/draft]
Eternity Vessel – $0.50

Our first sub-dollar Standard mythic! I’m actually surprised this card doesn’t see more love in Commander, but there you go. This is obviously too slow for Standard, as your life total will usually be zero by the time you cast this.

Verdict: Almost no chance

Eye of Ugin
Eye of Ugin – $2.49

I was actually surprised to find this card under $2.50, as it saw play for months in a tier-1 deck and is useful in a wildly popular Casual strategy. I guess between Jace, Stoneforge Mystic, the manlands, and Kalastria Highborn there isn’t a ton of room for additional value in Worldwake. Regardless, this dog had its day and that day is now done. Unless the third set of Scars block is actually “New Eldrazi,” (ohpleaseohplease) I don’t see this card going up in price until the Eldrazi actually do come back 6-7 years from now. And even then it’ll be a Casual-only thing.

Verdict: Put out to pasture.

Geth, Lord of the Vault
Geth, Lord of the Vault – $0.99

Geth is a pretty good all-upside play. Either you get your opponent with his evasion, the things you steal from their yard, his mill effect, or all three. I don’t see why this dude isn’t a more sought-after Casual card, honestly.

The problem is that Standard right now has 5 Titans and Wurmcoil Engine at the 6-slot. Geth is sweet, but not as sweet as them. Could he see play once the Titans rotate? Maybe, but I still don’t think I’d play him over the Engine. Still, he is one of the more intriguing names on this list.

Verdict: Wrong time, wrong mana cost, but powerful.

Glissa, the Traitor
Glissa, the Traitor – $2.49

In my opinion, Glissa is one of the strongest breakout candidates on this list. Three mana for a 3/3 is a fine deal. First strike and deathtouch are both very strong abilities, especially in concert. Her artifact recursion ability is potentially incredibly powerful as well, providing you can build around it.

The problem, obviously, is her very awkward and specific mana cost. Getting her out on turn three is far from a guarantee, no matter how many Verdant Catacombs you stick in your deck. To make things more difficult, black and green aren’t exactly the ‘artifact’ colors in this iteration of Mirrodin block.

It certainly seems like many deckbuilders may have been scared off a bit by her CMC and haven’t looked hard enough at how to abuse her power. Will her awkwardness or abilities win out in the end? I’m not sure, but I’ll be keeping an eye out.

Verdict: Major sleeper potential.

Hellcarver Demon
Hellcarver Demon – $0.99

I already have a pile of 6-drops I’m not playing – and those don’t have a major, demonic downside. It would take me a long time before I got down to this guy.

Verdict: Almost no chance.

Indomitable Archangel
Indomitable Archangel – $1.99

This card has a disease I’d like to call “I-always-think-it’s-worth-more-than-it-is-itis.” Seriously, shouldn’t this gal be seeing more play than she is right now? Four for a 4/4 flyer that gives all your artifact shroud if you’ve got metalcraft is a quite potent ability, and she will be a superstar if a mid-range-y metalcraft deck ever becomes reality. She’s got another year+ left in Standard, and I just can’t give up on her sweet, sweet upside.

In the unlikely event that the next set actually *is* Mirrodin Pure, snag a couple copies of this on the cheap.

Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet
Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet – $1.99

I’m already not playing my pile of awesome black 6-drops. I’d probably go through all of them (even Hellcarver Demon) before playing this awkward 7-drop.

Verdict: Almost no chance.

Liege of the Tangle
Liege of the Tangle – $0.99

Avenger is good because if you play it and then drop a land, you’ve got yourself an army. This guy sucks because you need him to deal COMBAT DAMAGE TO A PLAYER before he does anything good. Yeah, he’s got trample, but still.

Verdict: Almost no chance.

Lorthos, the Tidemaker
Lorthos, the Tidemaker – $0.50

I wish we lived in a world where Lorthos was a star. He’s the best. I purchased a large print of the googly-eyed kraken himself at the last prerelease, and I couldn’t be happier. But I think I’ll have to settle for him being an all-star general in Commander. Ah well.

Seriously, if you get to combat with this guy and 8 mana, you’re going to do well for yourself. But that is never going to happen. Not ever.

Verdict: Almost no chance.

Lux Cannon
Lux Cannon – $2.49

As lux would have it, I wasn’t writing for this site yet when this card came out. If I had been, I might have written an embarrassing column about how it might be the sleeper mythic of the set.

At first blush, it sure seemed like it could have been a contender. It’s odd, cheap, powerful, and fun. In a [card]Voltaic Key[/card] powered world, why not consider the cannon as an effective way of getting rid of anything that’s ruining your day?

Because it doesn’t do anything when it comes out, that’s why. And if you’re playing Voltaic Key just for it, then that’s two cards you need to run for a clunky combo that’s too slow. Yes, even with Trinket Mage.

I still like this card in theory, but doubt that the environment will ever slow down enough to make it viable.

Verdict: Almost no chance.

Mindbreak Trap
Mindbreak Trap – $1.99

Remember when Mindbreak Trap and Warren Instigator were pushing $20? And everyone was flipping out because CMC 2 powerhouses and staple counterspells were introduced as mythic rares?

Oops.

This card sure didn’t end up being Cryptic Command, but it’s hard to call it a complete bust. It was designed to combat storm decks in Eternal formats, and it is reasonably effective at doing so. It does see play – just not a lot, and not in Standard.

I actually think this card is a soft ‘buy’. Once it rotates, fewer players will carry it and it will start to get scarce. Since it’s a mythic, people looking to pick it up as sideboard hate will be willing to pay a higher price for it. The next time storm is the legacy deck to beat, this could trade a brisk $5-$7.

Verdict: Almost no chance in Standard. Low priority pickup for Legacy.

Mindslaver
Mindslaver – $1.49

This is a good example of the value of a Casual card suffering with a reprint.

Remember: cards that are reprinted go one of two ways. If the card was a former tournament staple that is well-positioned, it will most likely go up. If it is a Casual hit that’s held value for years without ever seeing competitive play, it will most likely go down. Many people don’t recognize this distinction, and assume that reprint announcements mean, “Buy this card!” They don’t.

Funny enough, Mindslaver is actually seeing some play this time around. Go watch LSV’s current Standard gauntlet videos for proof. Of course, it’s a one-of in a deck that’s a tad fringe-y and it’s had more than one printing. It might make a small gain, but I doubt it’ll make a huge splash.

Verdict: Value hurt by reprint and mana cost. Keep an eye on it, but it’s unlikely to be a big gainer.

Novablast Wurm
Novablast Wurm – $1.99

Seven-drop guys that require four specific mana AND an attack phase to be good but also blow up the rest of your team don’t see Constructed play.

Verdict: Almost no chance.

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen – $1.99

I honestly don’t see why Ob hasn’t become at least a minor player by this point. I pegged him as an early sleeper in Zendikar, and bought in right before his price/demand went up around the time of the set’s release. He rode high for a while, but never found a home and eventually settled in the bulk bin.

I think it just comes down to the fact that his color and ability don’t seem to work together right now. There’s still time for a theoretical BUG deck to get made, maybe matching Ob Nixilis up with Glissa and a bunch of ramp, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Ob is powerful, but his time to shine is almost up.

Verdict: I want to believe, but if it hasn’t happened yet…

Obsidian Fireheart
Obsidian Fireheart – $0.99

I ran a few copies of this guy in a mono-red deck that wasn’t any good. Then Koth came out, and that pretty much ended people’s interest in making the land continue to burn. Four mana for a 4/4 with a relevant ability isn’t bad, but if you’re going to go big, go Inferno Titan.

Verdict: A slightly better chance than almost no chance, but still: almost almost no chance.

Platinum Angel
Platinum Angel – $1.99

She’s been around for years, and I’ve seen more than a few games of limited end up with piles of stupid interactions due to her amazing rules. You’d never know it now, but she was the marquee card in Mirrodin, and she was an absolute treasure for Casual play. Much like Darksteel Colossus, the awesome things from those days seem trite and boring now.

Before I tell you that Platinum Angel has almost no chance, I want you to read one of my all-time favorite Magic humor articles. This one is timeless, I think.

Verdict: Almost no chance.

Platinum Emperion
Platinum Emperion – $1.49

Another one-of in Standard Tezz, Platinum Emperion is still only a slight upgrade over Platinum Angel. With power creep the way it is, I’d imagine Wizards will print a creature with either shroud or indestructibility on it and a “platinum” ability next time they go back to Mirrodin. And when they do, that card will probably be a sleeper hit because everyone is soured by the angel and her fat golem friend.

I’d say this is a sweet Casual card that will hold value, but I’ve never once heard, “Got any Platinum Emperions?” in either of the stores I frequent.

Verdict: It’ll see some play in Forgemaster decks, but the value won’t go up much.

Praetors Counsel
Praetor’s Counsel – $0.99

In my article last week, I talked about how tempted I was to buy up every single copy of this card for $1.49 in the CFB store. Now it’s only $0.99, so I snagged 20 of them. Boom.

You’re telling me that every green mage building a Commander deck this summer WON’T need a copy of this? Half the problem with the format is being afraid to use your awesome spells and cards early. This is a game-changer, Bojuka Bog be damned.

Eight mana is a lot, but getting back every card in your ‘yard and losing your maximum hand size is awesome. Were this card blue, I think it would have a better shot of making it, but I still wouldn’t count it out. Even if it never makes it in tournament play, the card has tons of Casual appeal. That alone should eventually drive the value of this card higher than a measly dollar.

Verdict: I’m the driver of this bandwagon. Giddy-up!

Quicksilver Gargantuan
Quicksilver Gargantuan – $0.79

I thought this would be a pretty fun one in Casual, but it somehow still feels kind of “meh.” I don’t really know why – just a feeling I have.

Regardless, it’s pretty rubbish in Constructed. Rite of Replication is already “Clone with upside,” and no one’s playing that, so this giant blue man really has no shot.

Verdict: Almost no chance.

Rampaging Baloths
Rampaging Baloths – $1.99

I actually thought these had a chance to be good, and picked ‘em up at the prerelease in between trying to get my hands on as many Vampire Nocturnuses (Nocturni?) as possible. Luckily the vamps worked out, because these beasts never made so much as a whimper in Standard. They were plenty good enough in block, but couldn’t make the leap.

In baseball, there is a term: “Four-A player.” Four-A players put up gaudy numbers and might look like a star at the highest levels of the minor leagues, (known as Triple-A) but they aren’t quite good enough to play every day in the majors.

Rampaging Baloths are AAAA players of Zendikar. Once they’re up with the big boys (think Primeval Titan), they just can’t hack it.

Verdict: Maybe green will need a six drop in between M11 rotating and Zendikar rotating…oh, wait, that doesn’t work like that.

Almost no chance.

Time Reversal Time Reversal – $0.99

Who was buying this card when it was stupidly high? I don’t think I talked to a single person that thought it was legit. The price seems like it was inflated solely by…I don’t even know what. People that love Timetwister? Are there even any of those?

This card needs a deck that plans on casting a ton of spells early and then dropping the Reversal when their opponent has a full grip. A grip without counterspells or answers. And even then, you’re giving them a brand new seven.

We’ve seen cards like this work in more degenerate formats, but Standard will never be that way again. And Legacy has other, better options.

Verdict: Almost no chance.

Warren Instigator
Warren Instigator – $2.99

I’m slain by the fact that this card isn’t good. I was SO SURE it was good. Almost everyone was.

I actually think that if Siege-Gang Commander had been in M11, this card would be seeing play right now. It was really only about one goblin away, and War Driver is a pretty good man.

Will M12 bring Siege-Gang back? If so, it’ll probably take away the Chieftain, and then we’ll still be a goblin away. Even if my goblin dreams come true, the deck will only have a couple months to work.

Those few months are still enough to drive this card back to the $10+ range. I doubt Wizards will do it, but keep your eyes on this one when the M12 spoilers start rolling out.

Verdict: Keep your eyes on M12.

Wrexial, the Risen Deep
Wrexial, the Risen Deep – $0.99

Our saga ends with another commander-playable Kraken that is just not good enough for Standard.

This guy had a chance to shine. When U/B was the best deck in the format, right after Worlds, I speculated that Wrexial could be tech against the mirror out of the board. Unfortunately, Grave Titan filled that spot far better, even against Swamps and Islands.

If this guy didn’t make it then, his day will probably never come.

Verdict: Almost no chance.

Overall this hasn’t been the most inspired rogue’s gallery of cards, but what do you expect for mythics that costs less than the price of a pack? Make sure to keep an eye on winning decklists for any/all of ‘em, and be sure to pounce if you see one show up. A quick trigger finger, and you’ve just paid for next year’s Standard deck.

Until next time –

– Chas Andres

14 thoughts on “Traderous Instinct – Budget Mythic Roundup”

  1. Your verdict on Novablast Wurm is correct, but your analysis is poor. NBW is not a ridiculous proposition; it’s got legitimate positives. It’s a 7/7 in a world of 6/6s, it KILLS all those 6/6s, and there’s plenty of playable ramp.

    Its real problems are its colors. It simply doesn’t belong in a white/green deck, which is very nearly a creature-based deck by default. If it were the same creature but almost any other two-color combination (with the possible exception of B/R), you can bet it would be seeing play.

  2. Actually, the problem with Novablast Wurm is, when you cast something for 6, or more than 6, it needs to win you the game, or put you in position to win the game, and it cannot have no effect on the board. Also, there’s already a 7 mana wrath nobody plays.

    The same thought process is true for a card like admonition angel or Praetor’s Council. In fact, of all of these cards, Geth is the only one that could, has, and most likely will see more constructed play.

  3. Good article! As a note on Instigator, remember there will be a time where M11 and M12 are legal, which means we theoretically could have a few months of Goblin-filled shenanigans that would increase Instigator’s price.

  4. This article is useless. You advertised it as how to watch Mythics for big value, then just restated what you already said in another article; Praetor’s Council should cost more. That’s it.

    Every other mythic, you predicted gains of like a dollar, which you called foolish with the Contested Warzone example. I don’t feel like stocking up on Goblin Instigators so I can remember in 2 weeks that the goblin player’s hand is always empty.

    C’mon….. Got any real advice you haven’t already said?

  5. @Max – The point is that I can’t forecast the kind of gains that any of these cards might take. It’s going to take the printing of a new card or a deck built by someone better than me to take one of these cards to the $15-$20 range. This article is to give you a sense of which cards have raw power and potential that isn’t being currently used, and which are just duds. I could see Admontion Angel, Ob Nixilis, Glissa the Traitor, Warren Instigator, or Indominable Archangel eventually hitting $20 each. Is it likely? No. But – as UFO folk say – keep watching the skies!

  6. I see Glissa as being the potential breakout of this bunch, but with the caveat that I don’t see it happening until and unless Lightning Bolt rotates. I wouldn’t fault anyone for buying now, but I expect her price to either remain steady or decrease for the next several months.

  7. The platinum angel article is actually really funny, if you don’t click on that link, do it!

  8. I read this article and all I got from it was that you refuse to give up on Praetor’s Council. Which is fine. I mean I may buy a foil one in the next few months despite the fact that I don’t see myself ever casting the card. The problem is that people are starting to realize that mana is a limiting factor and you can only play so mana 6, 7, 8+ mana spells in Commander. At the same point that realization is starting to occur, Wizards is just spamming the format is powerful cards with higher mana costs. While Praetor’s Council would have been in my deck 5 years ago, it is total trap today.

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  10. Glissa, the Traitor sees play as a 4 of in the Block BG Rock deck, which looks very playable once Zendikar Rotates.

    Get yours while they’re cheap.

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