Today is my financial analysis of Dragons of Tarkir where I discuss which cards are good investments and which are bad investments so that you can make a more informed decision as to which cards to pick up now and which cards to get rid of now.
The article is divided into four sections:
Mythic Rares where I discuss each of the 15 mythic raresRare Cycles where I discuss five different cycles of raresNon-Cycle Rares where I discuss all the other non-bulk raresUnplayable Bulk Rares where I make fun of the worst rares in the set
Let's start with the big money cards (the mythic rares), and discuss them in descending order according to current price.Mythic Rares
Narset Transcendent 35
Narset reminds me a lot of Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. Both start with a lot of loyalty as their only means of protection and both are especially well-suited for a deck running a bunch of noncreature spells. I could see them being good alongside each other in Esper Control. Shaheen Soorani would be the guy to ask about that. Although Narset will definitely see play, $35 is way too much. $10-15 is more likely. I'd sell now.
Sarkhan Unbroken 20
I take this to be the more powerful planeswalker of the two, though it has a more restrictive mana cost and therefore likely only fits into one deck. There are also a lot of good competing five drops in these colors (Stormbreath Dragon, Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, Whisperwood Elemental), so it's unclear just how many of each of these will be optimal in a Temur deck. Given all these factors that would have to line up, I am selling on Sarkhan. The one upside scenario is if a deck running four copies spikes a big finish between now and the Pro Tour. At that point it could likewise spike in price and be worth the investment. Just don't hold onto them for long if that happens.
Deathmist Raptor 15
I don't know how good the deck is, but give the power level of Whisperwood Elemental and its synergy with Deathmist Raptor, I expect a deck to do well at some point that runs four copies of each of these. People will then want to play that deck the following weekend and so the price will spike at that moment. If this happens soon, the price could spike to as much as $30. If it spikes later after the price has already dropped, it might just spike back to its current price. Either way I could see this investment panning out or at least being a break-even. It's also possible the deck sticks around and the Raptor stabilizes at $25-30. Conversely, it's also possible the deck ends up not being great and the Raptor drops to $5. I'm buying my playset now and no more.
Dragon Whisperer 8
It isn't cost efficient enough to be great in a red aggro deck and the double red in its mana cost makes it too restrictive to be good in a multicolor deck unless that deck is base-red and only splashing a second color. The only deck this card is suited for is red devotion. In that deck it is an all-star four-of though! If you have reason to believe red devotion will take off and be the new hotness, then invest hard in this guy. If not, then stay clear because there is really only one scenario where this investment turns a profit.
Ojutai Exemplars 6
I discussed a UW Monks deck last week that uses Ojutai Exemplars alongside Monastery Mentor and a bunch of noncreature spells. Aside from Anticipate, there aren't really a lot of good spells to support this shell. While I like the card, I'm just not convinced it has adequate support to take off. Unless you see something to the contrary, I would say hold off on this one. The art is awesome though!
Shorecrasher Elemental 5
Much like with Dragon Whisperer, the one scenario where this card spikes is if devotion to its respective color takes off. Seth Manfield shared a Blue Devotion list a couple weeks ago that plays Thassa, God of the Sea, Master of Waves, Cloudform, and Stratus Dancer. If you believe Blue Devotion will make a comeback, then invest heavily in Shorecrasher Element since he will undoubtedly be a four-of in that deck and the primary reason for its return. Otherwise hold off.
Dragonlord Ojutai 7Dragonlord Atarka 5Dragonlord Dromoka 5Dragonlord Silumgar 5Dragonlord Kolaghan 4
Unlike every other dragon cycle in the set (with a minor exception for the Regents), these are all actually good. I don't think Ojutai is the best one, despite it being the highest price currently. Prognostic Sphinx seems better since it permanently blanks the removal spell. Silumgar has a lot going for it. The body blocks Siege Rhino while the deathtouch is enough to hold off a pair of Rhinos. Its ability to steal a Courser of Kruphix or a planeswalker is very strong. Think how awesome it would be to steal an Ugin or to steal any other walker and immediately ultimate it! Six mana is a lot, but I think it will see play. Atarka affects the board and is an enormous body, but still might not be as good as Hornet Queen. Kolaghan is a strict upgrade from Rorix Bladewing. I discussed a deck a couple weeks ago (Dragon Jund) that utilizes him. The one I like the best, however, is Dromoka! Yes, it's competing with Elspeth, Sun's Champion for the six-slot, but the stats on Dromoka is very good. It's Baneslayer Angel for one more mana but cannot be countered, has two additional toughness, and comes with a free Grand Abolisher ability. Lifelink ability plays really well with Dromoka's Command too. The mythic dragons as a whole dodge a lot of the best removal spells available in the format (Ultimate Price, Roast, Bile Blight, Lightning Strike, Stoke the Flames) and I think they'll see more play than people are currently predicting. They aren't Titans, but they are better than most other big creature cycles we've ever seen.
Shaman of Forgotten Ways 4
One of the reasons I like Dromoka the best among the mythic dragon cycle is because it pairs so well with Shaman of Forgotten Ways. First turn Elvish Mystic, second turn Shaman, third turn Dromoka! This is a very Brian Kibler type Magic card and I could easily see him showing up to Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir with a GW/x creature deck involving these three cards. Many of the important spells in Standard are inexpensive and can be cast off just a few lands. The big threats of the format are so varied and similar in power level that you're not really giving up much value (if any) by playing big creatures over big planeswalkers. You just have to have a plan against wrath effects. I haven't put all the pieces together yet, but at $4 this is my pick for sleeper mythic of the set!
Descent of the Dragons 3
I can't imagine this one ever sees play or carries any reasonable amount of demand. Unless I'm overlooking something important about this card, I see no reason for it to be more than a bulk mythic.
Risen Executioner 2
I can see this one rising a bit in value. Zombies have a ton of support throughout Magic history and there are lots of lords. Zombies are also a casual favorite. I wish it did a little more to make it more exciting. It doesn't quite feel mythic to me.
Clone Legion 1
I keep trying to think of scenarios where paying nine mana for this effect is worthwhile. I just don't see it. Cool card, but I'm not buying.
Now let's talk about the five rare cycles.Rare Cycles
Dromoka's Command 4Atarka's Command 4Ojutai's Command 3Kolaghan's Command 2Silumgar's Command 1.5
I think all of the commands will see play. Cards that grant flexible options tend to be Constructed staples when they can be good in a variety of contexts, especially when they help you whether you're ahead or behind. The two-mana ones will very likely see the most play and I think they'll remain around $4. Of the other three, I think Kolahhan's Command has a lot of potential as a two-for-one, especially if artifacts start seeing more play. Investing in either of the black commands while they're cheap could be worthwhile.
Thunderbreak Regent 6Icefall Regent 1Sunscorch Regent 0.5Foe-Razer Regent 0.10Deathbringer Regent 0.10
The red Regent is clearly the best one, but the question is 'how good?' His mana cost is more restrictive than Goblin Rabblemaster (double red) but less restrictive than Siege Rhino (single color). His evasion is better than Rhino's (flying vs. trample) and he hits just as hard for the same price (four power for four mana). He doesn't gain three life like Rhino and his extra three damage is delayed until they try to kill him, which makes him a little worse on offense and on defense. He fights great against or alongside Stormbreath Dragon though. My guess is he won't see nearly as much play as Goblin Rabblemaster and therefore won't hit $20 like the Goblin did, but he could still have some room to grow toward double digits. Not a bad card to invest in, but keep in mind he's already the highest priced non-mythic in the set.
The green Regent is unplayable, the white and blue ones are marginal at best, but the black one is actually very good. I was surprised when I saw that it was in the bulk rare range. This card seems playable in Constructed in a deck with some expendable creatures like Sylvan Caryatid. It's similar to Martial Coup. The reason it is among my top sleeper picks in the set, however, is because it is unreal good in multiplayer commander where it is nearly always a wrath + dragon. I'd be surprised if it remains under $0.50, which means it should at least double your money if not more.
Stratus Dancer 1.5Den Protector 1Hidden Dragonslayer 1Ire Shaman 0.5Silumgar Assassin 0.25
This whole cycle is playable and I would recommend investing $20 to acquire a playset of all five. I'm not yet sure which will spike but I predict at least one of these five will spike in a big way.
Necromaster Dragon 0.25Boltwing Marauder 0.25Harbinger of the Hunt 0.25Arashin Sovereign 0.10Pristine Skywise 0.10
These dragons are all pretty terrible except Pristine Skywise, which I think could garner some small amount of demand. Iridescent Angel was a fan favorite among casual players and Pristine Skywise is very similar. It's already a bulk rare, so what could you possibly lose if the investment doesn't pan out?
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit 3Sidisi, Undead Vizier 3Surrak, the Hunt Caller 2Zurgo Bellstriker 1.5
While this is an incomplete cycle, I love all four of these legendary rare creatures. Anafenza is the two-drop White Devotion was looking for, Sidisi is excellent in a world of Siege Rhinos, Zurgo will be a centerpiece in red aggro strategies, and Surrak hits harder than any four-drop in the format! I would recommend acquire your playset of each of these now for an average of $10/set. If you're investing for profit, I would suggest investing more heavily in Surrak and Zurgo simply because they are the least expensive of the four right now.
Now let's go over all the other rares in the set that we haven't yet discussed, in descending order according to current price.Non-Cycle Rares
Collected Company 3.5
I keep going back and forth on this one. On the one hand, it has big upside when you hit a pair of great three-mana creatures. On the other hand, you'll miss a decent amount, semi-miss a lot (getting a one-drop and a two-drop for instance), and you'll have to make compromising deck construction decisions in order to make the card good enough. I'm willing to be wrong on this one, but I'm calling this a bad investment. People are too fixated on the dream scenarios and it will require casting the card a bunch of times to see that it's not what they thought it was. I expect it to come down considerably from $3.50.
Myth Realized 3
Powerful first turn play, pretty miserable late game play. Dies to removal spells and doesn't attack or block early. It will see some amount of play, but $3 is too much for this. I'm thinking more like $.50 to $1.
Secure the Wastes 3
Now THIS is a card I can get behind! Instant speed threats are generally underrated and are often very good. This combines well with Purphoros, God of the Forge, Chief of the Edge, or any anthem effect (including Obelisk of Urd). As long as you have anything at all in your deck to make use of these tokens, it's probably worth having in your deck. With that said, $3 is too high for this card. I'm thinking more like half that.
Haven of the Spirit Dragon 2
Radiant Fountain is much worse in control/midrange matchups but much better against aggro decks. Depending on how you want your main deck to be configured, this could see play in UB Control decks over Radiant Fountain. With that said, being a coin flip to replace a common in one deck is not exactly the recipe for a good financial investment. Sell these now while they're still $2.
Avatar of the Resolute 2
I like this one a lot. It turns on devotion, fits nicely along the curve, handles two powerful and problematic cards (Stormbreath Dragon and Thunderbreak Regent), and improves in the late game (when some of your other creatures gain +1/+1 counters). I still don't see it being good outside of heavy green decks, and some of those heavy green decks would rather have a mana accelerant as their two-drop ( Voyaging Satyr). Therefore I would not recommend investing in more than a playset of these.
Dragon Tempest 1.5
I was expecting this one to be a bulk rare. $1.50 seems way too high for this one. Is there something I'm missing here?
Assault Formation 1.5
Butt fight! Eat your heart out Rolling Stones! People are building decks around this card and are excited about it, but I'd be very surprised if any of them end up tournament playable. Sell.
Commune with Lava 1
It's a decent value card, albeit likely not as good as Outpost Siege or Chandra, Pyromaster and so it probably won't see any play in that role. The role I do expect it to play, however, is that of a combo piece in older formats where you can cast a bunch of ritual effects and 0-1 mana spells and chain this into more ritual effects and 0-1 mana spells. I see Past in Flames when I see this card. If you're a combo mage (likely Izzet) and you figure out how to break this card in Modern or Legacy, then go nuts buying these as a sleeper. I haven't figured out the deck for it yet though, so I'm hesitant to buy.
Arashin Foremost 1
BUY! BUY! BUY! This is one of my sleeper picks. Its implications have not yet been fully fleshed out, but I believe it will make warriors a playable tribe. Anyone looking to get into Standard on a budget will want four of these in their deck. Get your playset now while you can still get it for under $5. You will definitely be playing four of these if you're playing a white warrior deck. And then build an inexpensive warrior deck for your friend who otherwise wouldn't play in a Standard FNM. Watch the excitement on his or her face when they soundly Defeat their unsuspecting opponents and then want to keep coming to FNM and playing more Magic.
Damnable Pact 1
I could see this one getting played, but I cannot see it being worth much more than $1.
Radiant Purge 0.5
Situational removal spell, may see some narrow play, but unlikely to spike in price.
Mirror Mockery 0.5
Could see some play as a value card. I haven't found any combos with it yet, but if a good one is discovered for Modern or Standard, it could quickly spike in price.
Living Lore 0.5
My inner Zaiem Beg wants to cast Cruel Ultimatum with this so badly. Unfortunately I don't think this will be good enough. Maybe with Dig Through Time in Standard?
Blood-Chin Fanatic 0.5
I'm picking this as another sleeper. I think it will go in BW Warriors and maybe even in a BR Warriors deck. Furthermore, I expect Warriors to finally be a legitimate tribe.
People have suggested this as a sideboard card against control decks and that sounds accurate to me. Adam Yurchick in his article a couple weeks ago showed what you can do with it as a combo piece in a Standard zombie deck. I'm not convinced it will spike in price, but I could see it doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling in price if a deck catches on.
Gleam of Authority 0.25
I'm not sure why no one is talking about this in UW Heroic. It seems great in that deck. Even if it ends up as a four-of in that deck (best case scenario), it will not be worth more than $1. If you pick the right weekend though, you could turn all your quarters into dollars. This is of course assuming that it does actually belong in UW Heroic (which I think it does, but I could be wrong about). I'd pick these up now while they are a quarter.
Dragonlord's Prerogative 0.25
Great for control mirrors involving Silumgar but far too narrow to actually be a good financial investment.
Pitiless Horde 0.25
This card is awesome! It would be awkward if it gets enchanted with Pacifism or something similar, but with all the good removal spells in Standard, I doubt that scenario will come up with any frequency. You can cast it off Elvish Mystic on the second turn too, which is a big deal for three-drops. Lastly, you can dash it for five points of haste damage and keep it off the board against control decks running sweepers. Yes it dies to Bile Blight and Lightning Strike, but so do many other three-drops. For a single dollar you can purchase a playset right now. I pity the fool who doesn't hoard these! Definitely among my top sleeper picks!
Profaner of the Dead 0.25
Simic decks tend to be light on ways to answer creatures, especially en masse. This guy cleans up a big mess and gets you far ahead on tempo immediately. I wonder if there is a way to play this with the new Wall of Omens for dragons. I expect this card to see enough play to merit buying your playset now at $1.
Now let's turn to the worst of the worst, the cards you should unload at any price.Unplayable Bulk Rares
Obscuring Aether 0.25
The card is so bad they had to add a line of text that allows you to turn the card face down so that people can't see that you're playing with such a bad card in your deck.
Berserkers' Onslaught 0.25
Strike this one off the list of cards to buy. Then strike it off the list again. Get it? Double strike.
Profound Journey 0.10
Much profanity will be uttered by people pulling this as their rare in a booster pack. (See combo with Blessed Reincarnation below.) ( Craig mistakenly thought this card was called Profane Journey, which is why this joke doesn't make much sense. - Frank)
Crater Elemental 0.10
"There is no greater elemental than Crater Elemental," said no one ever.
Foul Renewal 0.10
This card stinks so bad that its stench constantly renews itself. It's like a pungent fart that won't Dissipate.
Hedonist's Trove 0.10
Adrian Sullivan (@hedonistpoet) will win a UB Control mirror by boarding this card in and he will swear up and down it is the best card for the job, yet everyone will know the real reason it's in his deck is because he loves the card name. No one else will ever cast this spell, let alone purchase it on purpose.
Blessed Reincarnation 0.10
Blessed is he who opens this in a booster pack without shouting an obscenity. (See combo with Profane Journey above.)
Volcanic Vision 0.10
If you see this as anything other than bulk, you should get your vision checked.
Sunbringer's Touch 0.10
Might as well light these on fire because this torch is worthless.
Illusory Gains 0.10
The fact that it's a Control Magic creates the illusion that it is playable, but the reality is I don't ever see this card gaining any momentum.Bonus: Noteworthy Foils
FOIL Anticipate 13.00FOIL Atarka's Command 12.00FOIL Rending Volley 8.00
Three foils you should pick up are Anticipate, Atarka's Command, and Rending Volley, each of which will see play in Modern and will be sought after in foil by players who would sooner not play a card than play with a non-foil version. Anticipate is a powerful dig card that is an upgrade from Telling Time. Atarka's Command will go straight into Naya Burn decks. Rending Volley is a better version of Combust since it kills Deceiver Exarch, Pestermite, and Restoration Angel without the possibility of being countered. It doesn't kill Siege Rhino, but the lower mana cost still makes it overall better.Conclusion
There are several strong investments in this set. If I were to invest $10 in ten cards, I would invest in the following ten sleeper picks:
Shaman of Forgotten Ways 4Surrak, the Hunt Caller 2Zurgo Bellstriker 1.5Arashin Foremost 1.00Blood-Chin Fanatic 0.50Pitiless Horde 0.25Profaner of the Dead 0.25Gleam of Authority 0.25Deathbringer Regent 0.10Pristine Skywise 0.10
If you have ten bucks to invest, let's play the investment game and see how we do. I plan to invest in a playset of each of these. I'm reasonably confident that acquiring these ten cards now will prove to be a good investment and will save me some money in the long run. More importantly, these cards are all awesome and I just want to start playing with them as soon as possible! I also plan to invest in several other cards that I believe will remain stable at their current price just because I want to play with those too!