Last month, I wrote an article about some ridiculously priced uncommons that you could (just barely) find in Modern. Those were cards that weren’t seeing nearly enough play to justify their $15 price tags. It was a fun exercise, so I wanted to see if the same could be done with some of the commons in Modern. After all, we’ve already discovered that old cards, regardless of rarity, can accrue a good deal of value, and if you’re able to find a bunch of these bad boys in your bulk boxes, good on ya!
The one issue with common prices is that formats like Pauper could have an effect on them. But even if that’s the case, these are some interestingly pricey commons. Whatever the reason for their inflation, I’ve picked out some of the more obscure cards (unlike Lava Spike or Lightning Bolt, which are both up there) that you might not expect to have higher prices. Maybe you’ll see some surprises here.
5. Manamorphose: $4
I’m putting this guy at number 5 because, despite the price tag being a little out of control, it is at least the most obvious card on the list. After all, any deck with Pyromancer Ascension is going to use it, but also decks like Goryo’s Vengeance and even the Thing in the Ice deck. The point is, Manamorphose sees no shortage of play in Modern—but four dollars?! That’s more expensive that most Standard rares, and while the card is present in a few solid decks, those decks aren’t really all over the place. Manamorphose was even reprinted in Modern Masters (granted, it was an uncommon there).
Unlike my list of expensive uncommons, where you could attribute the cards’ values to being in unpopular sets like Coldsnap, Manamorphose was in the decently popular Shadowmoor! One little sneaky caveat here is that you can sometimes find Manamorphose in the Legacy Belcher decks. Those aren’t immensely popular, but it is worth noting.
4. Distortion Strike: $2
Rise of the Eldrazi was an incredibly popular set and largely heralded as one of the best Draft formats ever. So why on Earth is this common two dollars!?
“But Frank,” you’ll say, “Distortion Strike is a staple in Infect!” Au contraire, mon frère! After performing my due diligence, I’ve come to find out that, while Distortion Strike is indeed found in Infect decks in Modern, it is consistently a 1-of. That’s it! One copy in the deck. Now, I could totally see Distortion Strike being a $2 common if it were a 4-of, if you needed a playset for every Infect deck in Modern—but you need 1 copy. And just like Might of Old Krosa from the previous article, Distortion Strike is nowhere to be found in the Legacy version.
3. Chromatic Star: $3 (Time Spiral), $4 (Tenth Edition)
Chromatic Star is one of the easier cards on the list to justify, despite having two printings. (The Tenth Edition version is $4!) The card is a 4-of in basically every Tron deck there is, and it also shows up in whatever weird Eggs deck people are trying that week. There are a ton of Tron players in Modern, so everyone needing a playset of this bad boy is enough to shoot the price up the $3-$4 range. The card sees 0 Legacy play, but I can’t be certain whether Pauper is a force for its price point. If I had to guess, I would simply blame Tron. Always blame Tron. $4 seems like a lot for a card like this—it’s basically the common version of Mishra’s Bauble only in a much more popular set and with a second printing.
2. Utopia Sprawl: $3
While Chromatic Star is in a super popular tier 1 Modern deck, Utopia Sprawl… not so much. Yes, the card has a home in decks like Elves or Mono-Green Devotion or… I don’t know, Tooth and Nail? But these are basically just fringe decks that I find myself playing for columns like Modern Monday! That or decks Matt Nass likes to play. (That’s an Elves reference for the uninitiated.)
Utopia Sprawl also made its appearance in the super popular Ravnica block—Dissension, to be exact—but that was during a time where the third set was drafted the least. For the first iteration of the draft, 3 packs of Ravnica entered circulation. For the second iteration, 2 packs of Ravnica and 1 pack of Guildpact entered circulation. For the final iteration, 1 pack of Ravnica, 1 pack of Guildpact, and 1 lone pack of Dissension entered circulation. This means that, if all iterations were drafted equally, there were 6 packs of Ravnica for every 2 packs of Guildpact, for every 1 pack of Dissension. Six times more Ravnica packs than Dissension packs! That’s crazy.
Despite how crazy that is, though, it doesn’t really explain the last card on the list.
1. Muddle the Mixture: $2.20
A Ravnica common!
This sure is a weird one. Back in the day this could transmute for everything: Thopter Foundry, Vampire Hexmage, Sword of the Meek, combo pieces, all of them. But Muddle hasn’t been seen in a deck in ages. Well, that’s not entirely true. When Sword of the Meek was unbanned, the card did see play in a handful of decks, but you’d be hard pressed to find any copies of the card in decks with top finishes. And unlike some of the other gems on the list, it doesn’t see any Legacy play at all. So again, I ask you: Pauper? Who knows!
With roughly (all things being equal) 3 times as many copies of Muddle the Mixture as Utopia Sprawl (assuming Ravnica is twice as big of a set as Dissension) in circulation, all of these factors make me wonder how this common is worth over two dollars. If you guys have any idea, please let me know, because it has to be the most obscure card on the list.
Well, that’s about it! There’s some more weird stuff out there, so if you guys have anything that you think would make an interesting list, be sure and let me know. I might continue this series if the other rarities seem interesting. We’ll see. Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you later.