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On the Grind – Market Watch: Alara Reborn Edition

 

I still haven’t found a Market Watch format that I love yet. We’ll see if this one works. I grouped the cards into categories based on how I project them to perform price-wise. I describe each group before the list, so you have a better idea of what I mean.

One thing to note before we begin is that, as a basic rule, you should assume that the majority of cards will drop from their initial prices. This is due to a number of factors, the most prevalent being simple supply and demand. Cards can drop due to being overhyped or overrated or whatever, but the majority of prices will fall due to the simple fact that more of them have become available. When more are available than are desired, prices will fall and because not everyone plays every single card, most fall.

There are always exceptions to the rule, however. Some cards prove that their value is better than what the price suggests and they rise. Some simply hold their value because they are overall solid cards and the market got the price right the first time around. Given how inexact a science this Market Watch thing is, I will try to go into more detail when necessary, but for both our sakes, I will be concise and abbreviated when I can.

*Solid*

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The cards in this category are ones that I feel will hold their value. They are the mid-level to strong, staple-type rares that already have places in decks and archetypes. Though their prices vary, they shouldn’t fluctuate much individually.

Knotvine Paladin
This card is one of the most solid of the set. Though you can get better than a 3/3 for three mana, it isn’t the worst. The mana cost isn’t very restrictive, which allows Dauntless Escort to fit into multiple decks. I feel that is the key to his value. Every deck that could run him (Doran, GW Little Kid, GW Beatdown) needs protection from board sweepers. He will obviously dip if he doesn’t turn out to be as good as he looks on paper, but GW isn’t likely to find a better solution to combating Wrath of God.

Knotvine Paladin
The thing that I like about Knotvine Paladin is that it doesn’t have to attack alone to get the bonus (as it would if it were trying to take advantage of an exalted effect). If it was attacking alone and all your other creatures did have exalted, more power to him (literally). Rares from the GW Little Kid deck have branched out and shined, like Wilt-Leaf Liege making an appearance in Doran, but Knotvine Paladin isn’t as versatile and will likely remain at the mid-level rare price. It won’t be breaking any formats anytime soon, but will likely be a staple in the GW Beats archetype.

Maelstrom Pulse
If Oblivion Ring can see significant play as a pseudo-Vindicate, there’s no reason this card won’t. In my opinion, it is much better than Oblivion Ring as it simply destroys the permanent and doesn’t just hide it until the opponent can blow up the enchantment. Plus, permanent destruction comes at a premium now, since many decks run planeswalkers. The ability to wipe tokens off the board is a nice bonus, too. Though not too many decks would splash just to run this card, it is still a well deserved chase rare and should hold its value.

Spellbreaker Behemoth
Being a pre-con foil rare won’t affect the value of Spellbreaker Behemoth as much as it will affect the value of foil copies. I’m citing Master of Etherium for precedent in this case. Though Spellbreaker isn’t as archetype changing as Master, you shouldn’t worry that the price will drop just because it is a pre-con foil. If you open a foil one however, don’t expect it to be worth double the normal value. That being said, I think that this card is definitely playable and will be a valuable asset to RG and RGx beatdown players for a long time.

*Potential Sleepers*
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Cards in this category would otherwise be Bulk Rares if I didn’t feel that they had enough upside to be Constructed playable. They’re not necessarily in the Solid section, because a majority of them are low in price and could have the potential to go up. If not, they will likely just be transferred to the Bulk list.

Enigma Sphinx
Enigma Sphinx isn’t worth a lot right now. However, that could change if it proves to be the finisher of choice of some control deck. Note that the cascade effect would trigger first, so if you hit a Wrath of God, you still get to keep your Sphinx. Cascade is obviously powerful, but I think Wizards did a good job of neutering any potentially crazy cascade cards, Sphinx included.

Identity Crisis
I don’t think this card is as much a sleeper as it is a sideboard staple. Everyone makes the comparison that it is better than Head Games when playing BW Tokens vs. 5C Control. This is probably true, but Head Games didn’t spike in price when it finally saw play in BW.

Knight of New Alara
I really like this card and wish it had +1/+1 or one less on the casting cost. As is, it still has sleeper potential, and would be a key component in that multicolored beatdown deck that everyone is talking about. If you think it would be a sleeper too or if you want to play that deck, pick him up right around release time and use the “But it’s a release foil” tactic to drive the price down. Remember, Figure of Destiny was a release foil too, and though Knight is no Figure, being a release foil won’t hinder a good card from rising in price.

Mycoid Shepherd
You don’t need to build a deck around Mycoid Shepherd in order for it to be good. Just think of it like a Ravenous Baloth (that you can’t control). It is aggressively costed and has a very strong ability. That should be enough of an argument to say that this card is solid and should hold its value, if not improve if it can find a competitive deck that needs it.

Vedalken Heretic
If Heretic isn’t dealt with early, it could have the power to swing the game. Given, the 1/1 body isn’t going to survive many combat damage steps, but I see potential for him to thrive in something like the 5C mirror? Creatures that draw cards almost always have sleeper potential.

*Overrated*
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Cards in this category are ones that I feel are riding high in price due to the new set hype or are being overhyped by other writers and probably shouldn’t be. A lot of chase rares often fall into this category because new set hype always dies down and prices fall with it. Because I don’t want you to pay $35 for a card when I feel it should really be somewhere around $20 (*ahem* Sarkhan Vol), I advise you to wait on acquiring chase rares in this section or dump whatever stock you have to the current highest bidder (and pick them up later if you really need them).

Blistering Firecat
This card reminds me more of Beacon of Destruction than Blistering Firecat. However, in a format with so much good spot removal, I don’t think Blitz Hellion would survive where Giant Solifuge flourished. Trade these away while you can still get decent value for them.

Finest Hour
They say that Wizards finally did the “extra attack step” card right with Finest Hour. I’m still a skeptic, however. I feel that it would be much more powerful in Naya instead of Bant, but then it would obviously not be as balanced (and exalted/ attacking alone is more of a Bant theme). Some might say this card is a potential sleeper, but I would just trade them away and let those guys try.

Jenara, Asura of War
This is one of the chase rares of the set, and rightfully so. It is a very competitively costed flying 3/3 for three mana. Plus, it has the ability to permanently pump itself. What’s not to like? See that little blue in the casting cost? Well, that pushes it out of more aggressive RG creature decks into more Bant style aggro decks, and probably out of tier-one play. Sure it’s solid, but it won’t be format-defining. The value is high right now because of hype and her mythic status, but the price won’t go up more past its current $12 tag.

Lord of Extinction
I see the appeal of Lord of Extinction, but I honestly don’t think it’s that good. It won’t define or drastically improve any archetypes in Standard, though it could see play in Extended along with Dragon Breath, Dragon Fangs, and Dredge. The main thing pushing up his value at the moment are his mythic symbol and the demand of Timmies trying to abuse him. I could have fit him in the “solid” category, but I don’t think it will hold its $10 price tag after the new set hype dies down.

Meddling Mage
Chris Pikula is definitely the headliner of the set. And don’t get me wrong, the card is very solid. However, I think it is completely overrated in Standard and not every deck should push to try to fit him him. As far as the price goes, I think it will likely drop a few dollars, but not below $10. The older copies that exist will affect the value, but the demand will stay high enough that the price won’t plummet.

Nemesis of Reason
I can see an argument for someone wanting to put Nemesis of Reason into their 5C Control sideboard for the mirror, but other than that, I don’t feel it has a place in Standard. Trust me, it looks a lot scarier than it actually is. Even if it did start to see play, its applications are so narrow that it won’t affect the price much.

Sen Triplets
I want this card to be good so badly. It seems like it would be completely insane if it could only live one turn. Therein lies the problem and the reason that it will likely drop in price. Though extremely powerful, it is too slow and fragile to have a serious impact on Standard and should settle lower than its current trade price.

Sphinx of the Steel Wind
It’s mythic and it is definitely a solid finisher, but I don’t see why you would play this card over [card]Inkwell Leviathan[/card] (which isn’t even seeing Standard play). Sphinx of the Steel Wind will be high initially due to mythic scarcity, but will drop once everyone realizes how unnecessary it is.

Thought Hemorrhage As I said before, I think Thought Hemorrhoids is completely overrated. I’m sure that people will be playing it though, so the price will reflect that. [card]Cranial Extraction[/card] hit (if not passed) $20 in its prime though didn’t it? How much is that card worth now? Proceed with caution and don’t get stuck with Thought Hemorrhoids the same way.

*Trade Fodder*

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The value of these cards lies in the fact that they can be traded for a decent price while they are new. The only cards in this category for this set are two mythics, though not quite Bulk junk, shouldn’t be constructed playable and don’t have much sleeper potential.

Dragon Broodmother
I don’t think that Dragon Broodmother will change the format or even be played heavily, if at all, in competitive Constructed. However, she is a mythic rare and she is a dragon. The fact that it was a Prerelease promo does hinder its value a bit, but it wasn’t going to skyrocket anyway. All around, it is solid trade fodder to that kid who loves dragons.

Uril, the Miststalker
This mythic will hold trade value to Timmies and casual players. Being mythic rare will increase the appearance of scarcity, and five mana for a 5/5 with “Troll Ascetic” ability will allow him to hold his value, somewhat. It won’t be playable, but it definitely won’t be junk.

*Bulk*
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The rest of the rares in the set, I consider as Bulk aka junk rares. Some may argue that a rare or two on this list may have sleeper potential, but I highly doubt that any of them do. The mythics on this list would obviously be worth more than tradition Bulk prices, but they aren’t going to go up in value so ditch them early if you can.

 

*Power Uncommons*
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Power Uncommon is the new Sleeper Rare. You heard it here first, don’t wear it out. Over my years of studying MTG card prices, I’ve fallen in love with the Power Uncommon. People leave these things on tables and under chairs after they pull all the rares from their drafts”¦ It’s like leaving $1 on the floor. Sure it may not sound like much, but who wouldn’t pick up $1 if they saw it on the floor? The reason I say Power Uncommon is the new Sleeper Rare is because in the past few sets there have been more solid uncommons that have lapped rare prices than there have been Sleeper Rares that no one thought of. The real value in Power Uncommon and Power Commons lies in the foils, so keep an eye out! Here is a list of uncommons and commons I feel you should watch out for in Alara Reborn:

Anathemancer – Finally a card that punishes 5CC’s greedy manabase.

Behemoth Sledge – Though it’s slower than [card]Armadillo Cloak[/card], it’s also reusable.

Bloodbraid Elf – Will probably be the most played cascade card in the set and rightfully so.

Colossal Might – Should have some value in foil, as it is one of Timmy’s favorite cards in the set.

Intimidation Bolt – This card isn’t as good as everything thinks it will be. Aside from casting cost, I don’t think it is any better than Naya Charm.

Jund Hackblade – One of the more popular commons in the set. Should have some value in foil.

Lorescale Coatl – Probably not going to be constructed playable, but could still hold hype value.

Mind Funeral – Almost like an uncommon, +1 casting cost [card]Glimpse the Unthinkable[/card].

Nulltread Gargantuan – That drawback is pretty significant, but you can’t deny that creature is huge. Might just be better to try to play Woolly Thoctar, though.

Qasali Pridemage – One of my favorite cards in the set, foils are already reaching over $7 each!

Sigil Captain – Could have been a low-level rare, but instead is a power uncommon for GW Overrun players to drool over.

Terminate – I’m so happy no dealers wanted to buy my foil Planeshift copies at the last few major events. Terminate is one of the best removal spells ever.

Wall of Denial – Potes is going to hate me for putting this on the list, but Timmies will be trading for them, so *shrugs*.

Zealous Persecution – BW Token sideboard staple.

*Shameless Plug*
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To be 100% completely honest, I’ve been checking the Internet as I’ve been writing this article and our site has some of the fairest prices on the cards listed. They didn’t tell me to plug them and I don’t even know if I’m allowed to, but check out our site and compare to other “top gaming sites.” A lot of the cards that I think will drop are ALREADY low in price compared to other sites (meaning they’re fair buys right now!) and most others are matched if not beat! There’s no real need to wait on a price dropping if the price is already low, right? Again, they’re not paying me extra or telling me to do this, but really, try to compare ChannelFireball’s prices to other major sites and you’ll see where the real stars are.

If there is anything I’m missing or you think I’m mistaken on any of the cards above (from the rares to the uncommons), let me know in the forums! Next week I’ll be giving a report on how I did in the Season 1 MTGO World Qualifier Championships and a preview of the deck I’ll be working on for the upcoming Standard season. Good luck to everyone playing in release events this weekend!

Peace

Jeremy Fuentes

 

10 thoughts on “On the Grind – Market Watch: Alara Reborn Edition”

  1. Knotvine Paladin – Color me pretty doubtful about this guy, despite the spicy t2 paladin, t3 procession play. I would be trading him away early if I found someone who thought he had value. In GW token and “little kid” you generally want all your men turning sideways.

    Knight of New Alara – None of the Shadowmoor Lieges saw much play outside of Block and this guy won’t either – though I suppose he is Larkable, if that matters.

  2. If Knotvine Paladin becomes popular, I think it will greatly increase the popularity of Finest Hour along with it. With just a Noble Heirarch, Finest Hour, and Knotvine, you could potentially do 15 damage.

  3. Your right about Jenara being overrated. I couldn’t believe her price is at least 12 each. She is a decent creature with a nice ability and fits well into any Bant deck, too bad that Bant isn’t a Tier 1 deck yet or ever will be. Bant right now is kinda stuck in the middle of the pack.

    I see a lot of potential for Jund decks though, as mentioned, Maelstrom Pulse is a powerful removal card and the power uncommons you talked about such as Bloodbraid elf, terminate and anathemancer really make a strong push for Jund or Rock type deck.

  4. I think Lorescale Coatl is constructed playable. I had him up to a 9/9 in today’s tournament. He can get big fast in the right deck.

  5. Zander MacQuitty

    Don’t want to be a downer, but the interaction between dragon’s breath and Lord o’ Extinction doesn’t work. The Breath looks for a CMC of 6 or greater rather than power which is what you probably thought it does. But yes, Lord of Extinction gets a lot better when graveyards fill themselves very quickly but…Knight of the Reliquary might just be better in that deck. Unless you are trying to do something with a characteristic defining ability in your ‘yard (Knight is a 2/2 in the yard while LOE is huge)

  6. Zander MacQuitty

    @Robin so was balefire liege, and I think his abilities were better.

  7. Good catch Zander.. My mistake.

    Also, Wilt-Leaf Liege is seeing some play right now… Doran, some Elves, and GW Overrun decks are running him.

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