This week I am making financial predictions for the new set. I've divided the rares and mythics into five categories based on their tournament playability relative to their current price. I have not taken into account a card's utility in Commander, so adjust accordingly. The evaluations are primary based on each card's appeal for Standard, and to a lesser extent Modern and Legacy. Investments always come with risk; the advice in this article is intended to assist you in making informed decisions about which cards to invest in (or not) and why. My advice also doesn't factor in the enjoyment you'll gain from playing with a card you want for your deck, so regardless of which category a card is in, feel free to go against my advice wherever you deem appropriate.
The cards in this category are currently underrated. I expect them each to see tournament play and to go up in value from their current price. These are my sleeper picks of the set.
This feels like an improved version of Treasure Map. Instead of scrying, you are looting. It's easier to transform Treasure Map, but looting is considerably better than scrying. Once you finally get to transform it, the effect is much stronger. I could easily see this being the best mythic in the set and the card that puts control decks over the top. Good thing Abrade exists.
This is one of the cheapest mythics in the set, yet I take it to be one of the best ones. Five toughness is rather difficult to kill, and it's a pretty tough creature to block or attack into profitably. Combine with fight effects such as Savage Stomp, and you have a real board dominator.
I like this card a lot. If you play it on the second turn, then on the third turn you can Savage Stomp the opponent's creature and attack for five damage. And if you also have Tilonalli's Crown, you can instead attack for 10 damage on turn three (while killing their creature in the process)! Here's my current list:
I think people are sleeping on this one. How do you even play against this card? They start paying mana to target your creatures. Do you play out more creatures for them to target? I guess you have to, but then eventually they all die and the opponent has a 6/6 with deathtouch.
As you might expect, this may be my favorite cards in the set. It's very powerful in a tribal Vampire deck, especially one that can make tokens. Here's my current list:
Even though I'm not sure the best way to utilize this card, I'm pretty sure it involves Shefet Dunes. I have high hopes for it and the price is currently very low.
The Merfolk tribe has proven itself the early favorite for best tribe and currently the Oracle is a 2x in the sideboard. I expect this to change and it will see more play in the deck and go up in value. See Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca below for the decklist.
The cards in this category are cards I believe will see a lot of tournament play. They each already have a high price tag, so I wouldn't invest in them for profit, but I would not hesitate to pick them up for my Standard collection.
I like this card quite a bit and believe it to be a four-of in Merfolk, but it's already the most expensive card the set. How much higher could it go? If you want to play Merfolk, it will be worth the investment. Here is the list that went 5-0 in back-to-back days on Magic Online:
I like it, but it's hard to compete with Hazoret the Fervent. Maybe it can compete with Chandra, Torch of Defiance in the midrange decks?
This card feels pretty powerful to me in any deck that can reasonably attain the city's blessing. Double black mana is a bit difficult in White-Black Vampires, but it may be worth it.
Very good against planeswalkers, especially in a deck with creatures to pump. Six mana is quite a bit though and Abrade can really ruin your day. Still, I expect it to see some play.
This is arguably the strongest card in the set and the price tag has already caught up to it. It's already gone 5-0 in two separate decks on Magic Online, slotting into the place of Rogue Refiner in midrange green decks. It's also a Merfolk, so if double green proves castable it may even find its way into that deck. This is one of the few rares/mythics in the set that I can see possibly making an appearance in Modern. Here are the two lists that went 5-0 online:
Speaking of cards that could show up in decks outside of Standard, this one has some Modern and Legacy appeal. It doesn't shut off Tron, so it will likely see less play than Blood Moon except in decks that are also hurt by Blood Moon. Andrea Mengucci made a good point about it working very favorably with City of Traitors, Lotus Vale, and Scorched Ruin, completely negating their drawbacks without hindering their upsides. Perhaps investing in foils will prove profitable?
The biggest Dinosaur around, I expect it to be one of the big reasons to play the tribe in Standard. Can it also see play in Modern or Legacy alongside Tarmogoyf/Death's Shadow or some other shenanigans such as Nourishing Shoal or Phyrexian Dreadnaught? I'm not sure, but it feels like it has a lot of upside. Here is a Dinosaur deck that went 5-0 in a competitive Standard league this week:
The cards in this category are fringe tournament players. I would only pick them up if you need them for a deck, but they are not terrible buys at their current price.
Not too exciting, but it's a planeswalker that gains some value and protects itself by killing a creature, so it might see some play as a one or two-of in some midrange deck.
Good card with some built-in protection. Ravenous Chupacabra could be the reason this never sees the light of day though.
People seem to be a lot higher on this card than I am, but maybe it deserves a second look in tribal Vampires.
Chaining a few of these together could be really powerful, but we really have to work hard for a Time Warp effect. I wouldn't be surprised if someone figures out how to use this effectively, but it feels like a long shot.
Unlikely to see play outside of Merfolk, and also unlikely good enough for that deck. I'd be surprised to see this one show up in a deck, although it's not out of the question as it does synergize with what the deck is doing.
If you can get the city's blessing and start cranking out a 3/3 on every turn (once on each of your turns and once on each of your opponent's turns), this could pretty quickly take over the game. It's a higher variance Whisperwood Elemental, but Whisperwood saw a lot of play at one point. One thing this card has going for it is that the tokens build up quickly to attain the city's blessing. Another is that it's not legendary, so two of them will almost immediately trigger the city's blessing and that will make all the Saprolings into 5/5 creatures. Of course a five-drop that dies to Shock is… did I mention high variance?
This is likely the best of the cycle. As a general rule, the cheapest card in the cycle (mana-wise) tends to be the best one. And this is the cheapest. Here is a list that went 5-0 in a competitive league:
I like the card, but I think it only goes in this one deck.
This one is my favorite of the cycle and I expect it to be pretty good, but not good enough to jump up in price. It mostly feels like a powerful sideboard card against midrange creature decks.
Two-drops with big upside tend to be good. This is even serviceable early, though much better late. If left unchecked, this could easily take over a game in a few turns. I think it has an outside chance of seeing play in Modern too.
At minimum, this is a strong sideboard card against decks that flood the board with monsters.
The plight of the blue mage is palpable. Cancel with a very small upside in non-aggro decks. In aggro decks it may be a hard counter that is actually worth playing main deck to force your creatures through post-combat. The existence of this card may also change the way your opponents play against you, forcing them to use removal spells prior to your attack. It may not prove good enough, but I'm at least glad that cards like this exist in order to keep people honest and guessing.
I could see this being a sleeper, but I'm not quite ready to call it one. In a deck that can get the city's blessing, this could cause the opponent to sacrifice two of their three creatures. I suspect it is worse overall than Doomfall, but I think Doomfall is very underrated.
Late-game control finisher that trumps the mirror? Perhaps. I don't see any other use for it, but I suspect control mirrors will be decided by Search for Azcanta and Azor's Gateway instead.
An important piece of graveyard hate to have in the format, though unlikely to skyrocket in value unless it becomes a necessary card against some strategy in the format.
I like the ability to target yourself early and then later kill the Induced Amnesia to get all those cards back. Or you can target yourself late to cycle away excess cards you don't want. It feels similar to Oath of Jace, but with some interesting play decisions and applications. Might prove too cute, but I think it has potential.
Some of the cards in this set were really designed to be high variance. If you want your Cast Out or Ixalan's Binding to be much more vulnerable but have an upside, this is the card for the job. If enough people play Ghalta, Primal Hunger, then made the upside is worth it? In the words of Gerry Thompson, a person can dream.
It's pretty innocuous at first glance, but actually quite potent. Obviously a Hill Giant isn't anything to write home about, but if you can get lands into the graveyard through some other way (fetch lands? Evolving Wilds? Search for Azcanta? Cathartic Reunion? Champion of Wits?), then this could act as a potential ramp spell, or at least keep the opponent from killing it or attacking into it. Then you get to untap and attack, milling three cards (likely including a land or two). This feels like an Ali Aintrazi card.
Once upon a time, "Champions" were small white tribal creatures. Now they are five-mana black Graveborn Muses for the white tribe. People wonder why I haven't Top 8'd a Pro Tour since 2013…
The newest addition to the game of "Magic card names to describe flatulence," but still unable to hold a candle to the undisputed GOAT that is Death Cloud. It's pretty cool at protecting creatures or getting extra uses out of planeswalkers, but perhaps it is too narrow?
I don't expect any of these cards to see serious tournament play, but their price is low, so there is only so much money you can stand to lose by investing in them. Who knows, maybe there is a hidden gem among them?
Eight-mana creatures that are combo pieces instead of wiping the board or killing the opponent are not generally good.
In order for your deck to want this type of effect, you need to play a high density of creatures. And if you have a high density of creatures, you'll want to curve out. And if you curve out, you won't have many creatures left after casting this card. If it costs one or two mana I'd play it, but four mana makes it unplayable outside of something like Commander perhaps.
Unless it allows you to find a Pokemon card that deals 20 damage, I'm not paying four mana for it.
That's a lot of abilities, but it needs haste or some way to dodge all the exile effects in the metagame to be playable. If it weren't for The Scarab God and Hazoret, the Fervent maybe this would have a chance, but eight mana to trade with a Vraska's Contempt or Cast Out is too high a price.
Can cycle away some unwanted cards, but the rate is too weak.
Fringe playable, but only as a one-of, and unlikely even then since decks able to play colorless lands likely want four copies of Field of Ruin before they would want any copies of these.
The problem is that you really want to copy creatures pre-combat, but raid means you can only use this to copy things after combat. This is a really strange design.
Too hard to set up for too little upside.
If either of these are your sleeper pick for the set, expect their card names never to happen.
On one end of the spectrum, Rampaging Ferocidon was deemed too good for Standard. On the other end you have arguably the least playable rare in the format. Apparently Ferocidons are high-variance Dinosaurs.
Cool synergistic card with the enrage mechanic, but highly suspect for Constructed.
Cool effect against tokens and possibly a metagame call at some point, but unlikely to be more than a fringe sideboard card and even less likely to rise in value even if that happens.
I want my card draw to be less conditional.
I cannot think of a single scenario that would cause me to put this card in my deck for a tournament. If you can think of one and mention it in the comments, I will give you props.
Maybe Enduring Ideal wants one?
It could go well in Conley Woods' Shock Puppet deck with Marionette Master, but otherwise I'll pass.
I was the only player in the world playing Stitcher's Graft in my deck, and this card basically has the same drawback with only half the upside. Abrade also exists now.
These are the cards that are currently overpriced. I expect the market price to drop quite a bit on them and would recommend staying away from them in the short term until the price goes down. Some of them are playable though, so if you want them for your deck, it may still be worth it to pick them up. It will likely cost you some value when their price drops though.
She seems okay in a token deck, but even there I'd be surprised if there were not better options. Feels like a typical "win more" card that really only helps you if you are already ahead.
Nine mana is a lot, but if you manage to resolve it you'll probably win, unless they kill it with the untap ability on the stack. Still, nine mana is a lot.
The card seems reasonably strong and likely good in
Ramunap Aggressive Red mirrors since it can use an opposing Shock or Lightning Strike against the opponent or opposing creature. This is certainly no Snapcaster Mage since it doesn't have flash and it depends on what is in the opponent's deck instead of your own, but that's okay. A card can still be good without being nearly as good as Snapcaster Mage.
Merfolk looks like the tribe that has taken off first, which explains the price jump on this one. I'm uncertain that Deeproot Elite even belongs in the deck though, so I'm hesitant to invest in this one unless I'm sure to play Merfolk this weekend.
These conditional cards always look appealing because the ceiling is high on what it can do. In practice though, they very rarely work out since the floor is so low. So much has to go right and so many things have to not go wrong for this to actually work out. It's also multicolor, which further restricts the decks it could fit in.
I like this card and think it could see play if Pirates makes it to the big stage, but I'm not paying the high price until I see Pirates start winning tournaments.
Speaking of overpriced Pirates, I'm very skeptical of this card. It's basically a Welkin Turn that nerfs a blocker when it attacks. Not a terrible rate, but where is the support? The rate isn't good enough for Modern, so it won't fit into the Human tribal deck there.
The decks that want to play extra lands each turn won't easily get the city's blessing, and Dinosaur decks would much rather play a creature that can more reliably engage in combat sooner. So what decks would want this?
Most six-mana creatures are pretty great if they live long enough for you to attack with them, but in a world of Ravenous Chupacabras and other unconditional value cards, I do not see this one ever being worth it.