Hey there! It's DJ Johnson for your Tuesday bulk forecast. Today we're looking at a high chance of Rivals of Ixalan cards entering your local game scene at the end of the week, so I'm here with your common and uncommon set review so you know which non-rares you should be picking up from draft tables and setting aside from your prerelease winnings. While the rares and mythics can be more volatile and explosive when speculating on expected value (Hostage Taker and Growing Rites of Itlimoc have experienced drastic price shifts from when they were first previewed), the best black and silver set symbols will still consistently be worth sellling. Players will always need the Abrades, Supreme Wills, Glimmer of Genius, and Attune with Aethers, so we're going to focus on those in this article so you don't end up overpaying at a Grand Prix vendor booth later on.
For this set review, I've listed the top Best Sellers according to TCGplayer's marketplace data (as of 1/17/2018). These are the top commons and uncommons that are being pre-ordered before the prerelease. While not all of them will end up having a huge impact on competitive play, they might have demand elsewhere for formats like Commander or even unrestricted casual. While Standard normally drives the price on these new uncommons (Things like Servant of the Conduit, Longtusk Cub, and Rogue Refiner are worth money only because of Standard), it's important to branch out into the formats that you don't personally play to find the value that you might otherwise miss. Battle for Zendikar had some Standard gems like Transgress the Mind and Zulaport Cutthroat, but there were also less competitive hidden gems that I would find in bulk all the time like Hedron Archive and Drana's Emissary.
One more thing I want to touch on before we kick this off is the possibility of a Standard ban. While it seems crazy to think how many Standard bans in the past 18 months, there's real talk in the community about Energy being too powerful for the upcoming format to handle. Wizards of the Coast even came out with an article comparing Energy to the Affinity of old Mirrodin; while there was no outright mentioning of a banning in the content, it certainly reads like foreshadowing to me. If Wizards wants to secure the tribes of Ixalan a spot at the top Standard tables, they might end up needing to nuke Temur Energy or cripple it with a ban. The reason I bring this up is because the cards we review in this article could be seen in an almost entirely different light if the format gets shaken up with more bans. Cards that seemed mediocre in the face of 8/7 Bristling Hydras or a Whirler Virtuoso could be competitively viable; it's worth keeping that in mind as you go through this and any other set review in the next couple of weeks. Let's get started!
This is currently at the top of the list for best-selling commons and uncommons from Rivals, and with good reason. This has the potential to impact a grand trio of important formats (Standard, Modern and Commander), and will almost always be played as a four-of in 60-card land. Playsets of these are going for around $6 at the moment, and this will likely end up being the Abrade of the set in a value sense; I can't see it dropping below the current pre-sale price unless Merfolk ends up being completely unplayable. If you need or want them to play with immediately, I don't see much downside in grabbing the set immediately. It's not going to true bulk.
I'm personally surprised to see this card at top of the list; While this is incredibly powerful in Limited, it seems like it would get outclassed by Hostage Taker when it comes to Standard. Maybe it'll be a Standard player, but I'm not a Pro Player. I expect that a lot of the current presale demand is coming from less competitive Commander players (I'm considering putting this in Gonti myself, the more I look at it…), and 60-card casual lists that just want a good value creature. I'm confident that this will continue to be left in bulk, so pick these up like they're Burnished Harts – an innocuous creature that provides some solid value both financially and in-game.
Yep, there's no surprise here. This is a Modern Merfolk staple that's visiting Standard for a while, and it's going to be $1 for the duration. It's a value fish, and will be a pleasant find in a pack if your rare is less than awesome. Silvergill is often renowned as the best single card in Modern Merfolk, and any Standard fish deck will need four to function.
Another lord, another value uncommon. We saw three-mana lords be picks back in the days of Dark Ascension, when I would pull out Drogskol Captains and Stromkirk Captains to trade up and afford a Standard deck. My statements for Merfolk Mistbinder are worth repeating here (except the Modern applications): any two-mana lord will be a four-of in the deck that runs it, so these will likely remain picks for the foreseeable future. While it might not always crest $1 if Vampires doesn't manifest at the very peak of Standard performance, I think we'll see a lot of people curving this into Mavrein Fein, Dusk Apostle at FNM.
This card feels like a trap to me; You can't play it on turn one (unless you're going real deep with Ornithopter…), so it's gonna end up as an awkward draw after a Fumigate sometimes. Explore (the card) let you cantrip regardless of your creature count back in Worldwake, but this still remains as a best seller during the presale season. I'll be curious to see if that trend continues after the set releases and people actually get a chance to play with the card. For now, I'd be happy to get rid of them for whatever you can get.
Rile was nowhere near good enough as an enrage enabler, but this doesn't seem like the worst removal to have when Ripjaw Raptor is in play. Well, it's quite bad against their Ripjaws, but I don't think Dinos will be seeing competitive play regardless. This is currently a Best Seller, but I expect that to die down after the dino diehards dig up their copies. Ship 'em while you have time.
It's a crazy world we live in where Arbor Elf and Elvish Mystic are "too good" for Standard, but one that I can understand. It's an even crazier world where Rampant Growth is too good for Standard, so this is the closest thing we get. While this isn't going to reach the $1 status of some of the other uncommons in the set, diehard Dinosaur fans are going to want four. If you have a lot of casual players at your FNM who are real excited about taking their lizards to the next level, keep these out of the true bulk when you sort your booster box(es).
I actually don't think this card will see a lot of play in Standard; the three-mana slot for Merfolk is really competitive, and this will have to fight with both legendary creatures and Nissa, Steward of Elements. That said, people want them right now and the logic behind the demand is irrelevant if you can find someone to sell to. Definitely another card to have in your binder as a "maybe someone will pick out a playset that you can get $1.50 in trade for."
This is another "probably won't see Standard play" card that's going to excel more at the FNM and casual level. The biggest combo this card has going for its sales right now is the fact that it can go infinite with Resplendent Mentor; though that's not anywhere near Modern viable. Both creatures are pretty mediocre on their own, so I don't think this one stays on our list for too long. One of the main reasons that people like me love digging through Lorwyn and Shadowmoor block bulk is that tribal synergies are always in high demand. Tribal decks play to a less competitive players' creative and fantasy desires, and Ixalan block's success with the casual crowd is no different. While Vampires have to really stand out to be worth picking from bulk due to their sheer numbers, I'll be pulling Famished Paladin until the Best Seller list tells me otherwise.
I'm not gonna lie – it seems like it would be really difficult for the aggressive deck this card fits in to grab the ascend buff early enough to be relevant. Maybe our resident expert Craig Wescoe will prove me wrong and smash some faces with this card and other Vampires, but I've always been happy picking Expedition Envoys and selling them for nickels during Battle for Zendikar block. It just depends on how deep you're willing to dig for value, I suppose.
This is the one-drop that your FNM-ready Pirate deck wanted, not Rigging Runner. Do I think Pirates will be super-hyper competitive out of the gate? No, but that's not going to stop me from selling a lot of these on opening night. I'll Restock by finding them in bulk and buying them from people like you who pick them out of bulk and sell them to people like me.
This guy is pretty far down on the Best Sellers list (he's at the bottom of the second page at the moment of writing this article) but I feel like he deserves an honorable mention simply because Elvish Mystic is a heck of a card and I think this black version has a shot at seeing Standard play. It's true that uncommons tend to be the places to find value and that commons are so widely printed nowadays that they're rarely financially relevant, but I'm happy pulling these out of bulk as well.
I mentioned earlier that this block has striking similarities to Lorwyn/Shadowmoor, where tribal synergies attract casual players. It's evident by Wizards of the Coast's return to the "Pay X extra or reveal a creature type" cycle (Silvergill Adept bridges the gap by being part of both blocks), and the four card "Forerunner" cycle that look really similar to the old Harbinger cycle (Elvish Harbinger, Merrow Harbinger, etc). While the supply of a set in 2018 will drastically differ from that of one printed a decade ago, I'm still going to keep a very close eye on this block as the years go by. We could see cards like Atzocan Seer being worth a little bit more than what a Standard player might expect, solely based on how popular tribal can be as a strategy.
I wish everyone the best of luck at their local prerelease! I'm hoping to crack open three Ravenous Chupacabra for my Sealed Deck, and just run people down with scary Murder doggies. Thanks for reading, let me know in the comments section if you think there are any other sleeper commons and uncommons worth pulling!
- DJ Johnson