Up until this point in the Hidden Gems series, I've focused on Modern Legal blocks: Theros, Khans of Tarkir, and Lorwyn are all planes we've visited in the past decade or so. I've done so because I expect these sets are what the majority of my readers' have as bulk commons and uncommons in their closet or basement. However, I'm sure a few of you are longtime players or collectors who have been amassing bulk commons and uncommons for decades. Maybe you've recently picked up such a collection from a friend or colleague but have only been playing since Theros block yourself. Today, I want to go over an oft-forgotten plane that doesn't get talked about frequently – Mercadian Masques block brought us some not-so-hidden gems like Brainstorm, Gush, and Daze, but what about the other cards that don't see Legacy play? Skyshroud Claim and Rhystic Study are also pretty well-known commodities at this point, so let's go even deeper than that.
If you've been following the Pauper hype train, you'll recognize this card right off the bat. Mono-White Heroic is a relatively new innovation that's taken off, and it plays somewhat similarly to Bogles in Modern. Play an innocuous creature, load it up with Ethereal Armors and Hyena Umbras and hold this up to deal with opposing removal or blockers when necessary. Because it's comparatively ancient and has a lower supply, we saw the price go up significantly when player demand increased on this old common with no reprints.
This blue enchantment has had a Commander niche for a while now, seeing play in lists where you care about the top card of your deck. Narset, Enlightened Master and Maelstrom Wanderer have made this worth picking for years, but the release of Amonkhet is what really spiked the price. Why's that? Well, that just so happened to be when Sensei's Divining Top spun its last spin in Legacy. As players tried to hunt down a replacement, Soothsaying was one of the forerunners players scrambled to try out. Of course it never ended up being close to Top, but the attention got the card on some more casual players' radar. It currently sits at around $3 retail!
Does the name "Popeye Stompy" ring a bell? For those of you who groan at the mention, you'll be delighted to know that all that spotlight a fake decklist garnered actually managed to move some prices. While Rishadan Brigand got most of the attention as the rare, its uncommon friend has also sold enough copies to reach a market price of around $2.50. While you'd be lucky to ever find someone paying that amount for this card, it's still buylistable and pickable thanks to Admiral Beckett Brass players wanting to play as many Pirates as possible.
Spidersilk Armor is an example of a card that I see in bulk all the time, because it's not really regarded as a Commander or competitive staple. It's not like Ponder, Memnite or Kodama's Reach; so it doesn't really get mentioned in any other content. This card is more of a 60-card casual pick, where kitchen table players use it as a way to let their Elves block Dragons. It's only seen one reprint in a Duel Deck, and it does see a bit of marginal Pauper sideboard play as well. Around $2 each? Mercadian Masques block might be better than you initially thought.
Have you ever had a spell Thwarted in Commander? How about when they already had Force of Will in their graveyard and you thought you were safe to tap out for Torment of Hailfire? No? Just me? Alright, then. While this isn't a $1.50-$3 pick like the ones we've discussed already, I buylist these regularly for $.25 regularly. I especially like these because of how often they'll get left in Masques bulk; everyone will pull their Gushes, Dazes and Brainstorms, but no one will think to pull a worse version of Force of Will.
We've finally hit another Pauper card! While it got upshifted in Eternal Masters, this card is a longtime friend of Slippery Bogle, Pauper edition. It also sees a bit of play in Commander (1800 or so decks), so pick these out of bulk and have them in your binder for that one friend who still plays Uril, the Miststalker like it's 2010.
Diplomatic Immunity is another common from Masques block that's only really worth money because it's never seen a reprint. Noncompetitive players love making sure their fat creatures can't be killed by those Doom Blades, and Diplomatic Immunity is a way to do just that, while also being from a really old set. I buylist these for quarters, so this is a welcome find in bulk that's been "picked clean" by a more competitive player.
Terrain Generator has to fight against a lot of other colorless lands nowadays for a slot in a Commander deck, but it still finds time to be worth over $1 retail, with the new border Duel Deck versions being worth almost double the Nemesis version. While it's not every day you find Nemesis bulk lying around, this mana accelerant slides into non-green decks easily enough while being the second most expensive non-rare in the set.
Does anyone remember when Submerge used to be an actual Legacy card? People would play this to blow out a Tarmogoyf, Knight of the Reliquary or other big fatties that got in the way of an aspiring Merfolk player. Sigh… how Legacy has changed. This has been on a downward trend since 2013, but it's still worth pulling from bulk. I'm not going to question who wants it or for what purpose, as long as it finds a place on the buylist mat at a Grand Prix. Maybe one day it'll be true bulk, but I'll ride this wave until it dies out.
I used to have a Nath of the Gilt-Leaf Commander deck that played Mind Slash. If you have a Nath of the Gilt-Leaf deck, you should also play this. It's also reasonable in decks like Savra or Meren, and the minimal printings (just Nemesis and 8th Edition) keep it floating at that $.50 range that makes it worth pulling from bulk and shipping to a buylist. Yes, it can discard lands.
There's several other cards from Mercadian Masques block that we didn't have time to get to, but maybe we can save those for a separate trip to the market town of Mercadia. Unpicked bulk from this time period in Magic's history can be hard to come by, but it's certainly worth your own time to give it a skim through if you happen to come across it. There are cards for so many different types of players in this block, even if the sets were received as mediocre on the whole. If you're looking to make a few extra bucks, tune your Commander deck or enjoy going treasure hunting, digging through bulk commons and uncommons will usually reward you with at least a few hidden gems. Be sure to follow and subscribe to TCGplayer for more finance, strategy, and deck building content. Thanks for reading!
- DJ Johnson