Welcome back to my Kaldheim financial set review! This is part two. If you'd like to read the first part, including my thoughts on powerful gods like Valki, God of Lies and Esika, God of the Tree, check out the link below.
Before we get to the cards, allow me to remind you of my approach to Kaldheim's financial prospects. As always, I'm going to be evaluating this set for both competitive constructed and Commander play. Commander play has been the main driver of card prices over the past year, but Kaldheim should still be Standard-legal after the pandemic ends. Because of that, I don't want to ignore the impact that these cards might have across the entire range of competitive constructed formats. It's quite likely that many of them will spike once LGS play comes back this fall and competitive demand returns. This is especially true if the set sells worse than expected due to the pandemic. While Commander demand is still the most important quality to look for, we can't ignore competitive play, either.
With that out of the way, let's get to one of my favorite cards in the set. In fact, it's one of the most exciting mythics I've seen in a long time.
Vorinclex is amazing. That 6/6 body with trample and haste is nothing to sneeze at, but the real reason you're playing this card is the synergy it has with planeswalkers. Much like Doubling Season, Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider doubles the number of counters on each planeswalker you play when they enter the battlefield, which is patently absurd. That creates a few infinite combos, as well as some game-breaking interactions in the current Standard environment.
I have no idea if Vorinclex will actually see play in Standard, though. It's a 6/6 for 6 that's easy to kill, and it doesn't do much on the turn it enters the battlefield unless you have a lot of extra mana and a planeswalker in your hand. Vorinclex is also kind of a win-more, as you're probably already doing great if you've managed to stick your six-drop alongside an Ugin or something. Vorinclex is splashy, yes, and I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being part of some ramp deck's endgame, but it's far from a sure thing.
So why does Vorinclex's price chart look like this?
In a word, it's Commander. Doubling Season is worth an absurd amount of money despite several reprints, and Vorinclex is a very similar card. Every "counters matter" deck wants a copy of this creature, as does every deck with a critical mass of planeswalkers and access to green mana. Doubling Season's current price point also provides us with some precedent for cards like this being expensive, and the market seems to be responding in kind.
It's certainly possible that Vorinclex drops into the $20 range for a little while—probably when Kaldheim is at peak supply—but it has a shot at being a $50+ card over the long term. I don't blame anyone who wants to buy in now because of its absurd long-term prospects, and I'm probably going to pick up a few copies on release weekend myself.
Toralf, God of Fury // Toralf's Hammer
Toralf, God of Fury is not the kind of card I like to pre-order. It's simply too fair to have any upside beyond a deck like Big Red or Gruul Midrange. The creature side requires you to be ahead on board and able to crash in for a significant amount of damage before anything happens, while the equipment side requires a pretty heavy mana investment. Toralf might actually be an aggro staple if it didn't return to hand after activation, but I'd rather just run cheaper, quicker direct damage most of the time.
That said, I wouldn't be surprised if Toralf does find a home somewhere. In the right kind of deck, it's a solid early game equipment, mid-game source of damage, and late-game threat. You can even use the bounce to your favor some of the time, allowing you access to the +3/+0 equipment early on and a creature later on after the bounce. I also tend to find that these MDFCs are still being somewhat underrated, so it's possible that Toralf's price tag will drop far enough for me to think twice about buying in. For now, though, I'd rather focus on cards that are more likely to become multi-deck staples.
Starnheim Unleashed might be underrated. Remember: you don't have to pay XX when you foretell if you don't want to, giving you the option of a turn three Serra Angel or an entire army of vigilant fliers late in the game. That's a heck of a lot of power, alongside some pretty sweet versatility.
On the other hand, Shark Typhoon and Emeria's Call are already in the current Standard format. Emeria's Call doesn't have quite as much raw power as Starnheim Unleashed, but the fact that you can play that one at a land makes it the better card by a pretty wide margin.
It's possible that some decks are going to want to run both Emeria's Call and Starnheim Unleashed, but "might see some play alongside a better version of the same card" is not the kind of upside I'm looking for when I pre-order a shiny new mythic. Starnheim Unleashed is not much of a Commander card either, meaning that it could be one of the few mythics in the set that never really ends up being worth more than $3-$4. I'll probably re-evaluate in the fall, after set rotation.
Alrund's Epiphany is one of the most underpowered Time Walk variants I've seen in a while. You're paying at least seven mana for this spell no matter what, at sorcery speed, with no recursion possible. The birds are nifty, I guess, but this is not a card for competitive play.
As far as Commander goes, the decks with dozens of Time Walks in them are also going to run Alrund's Epiphany, I suppose. Everyone else already has a choice of Time Walks, however, of which this is one of the least powerful variants. Cards like this always end up being worth $5+ somewhere down the line, but I expect Alrund's Epiphany will spend plenty of time below $2 before that happens. I'd look to buy in at some point in late February or early March.
From a competitive perspective, I don't think there's much of a middle ground for Quakebringer. This is either going to be one of the defining cards of Kaldheim Standard, or it's going to end up in the bulk bin. There's not much of an in-between.
A lot of it is going to come down to how easy self-mill ends up being, as well as how easy it becomes to keep a Giant or Changeling in play. If you can easily trigger a couple of Quakebringers in your graveyard every turn, it's going to be hard for half the decks in the format to compete with you once you get your engine online. If not? Well, this isn't exactly a great rate for a five-mana card.
As for Commander, I don't love Quakebringer. Giant decks are obviously going to run this card, but it doesn't have a lot of value otherwise. This is a bulk rare if it doesn't find a home in Standard, and a potential $10 card if it does. I'm not going to take that bet unless I actually hear some buzz out of Arena over the first day or two of format legality.
I would love to live in a world where Burning-Rune Demon is constructed playable. (Mostly because that world is 1993 through 2012, when there wasn't a pandemic.) These days, however, you really do need your six-drops to do something when they enter the battlefield, which Burning-Rune Demon does not.
If Burning-Rune Demon does find a home in competitive constructed, it'll likely be in some sort of reanimator deck where this card's drawback becomes an advantage. You really don't want to play too many six-drop enablers in decks like that, though. You want your expensive cards to just win you the game. It's not out of the question, I suppose, but I guess I just don't see it.
That said, I do think Burning-Rune Demon is being undervalued right now. This card is currently selling for just $4, which is fifty cents less than Commander staple Rune-Scarred Demon. Burning-Rune Demon is likely to be better in that format, where most Commander decks already play out of their graveyards and run redundant combo pieces with different names. The fact that Burning-Rune Demon is one mana cheaper than Rune-Scarred Demon means more in Commander, and the drawback means less. Lots of people are going to want to run this card in Magic's most popular format.
Value-wise, however, Burning-Rune Demon could bottom out in the $1-$2 range. Hype seems pretty low so far. This is a $5-$10 casual card over the long term, though, and I'd suggest grabbing a few copies when the set hits peak supply. It's going to have a really broad base of Commander demand for years to come.
It's tempting to see a splashy Simic mythic and automatically assume it'll be a Standard all-star, but I don't think that Koma, Cosmos Serpent is going to see much competitive play. It's a little too expensive and a little too slow for my tastes. It's also currently being outclassed as a curve-topper by Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, so I'm not sure where it fits in the current metagame.
Koma, Cosmos Serpent is a heck of a Commander card, though. Making a token each upkeep is exactly the level of token generation that Commander players love, and its sac ability is perfect for playing late game crowd control in that format. I fully expect Koma to see a lot of play in Commander, and I need at least two copies myself.
Because of that, I don't see Koma dropping too far below its current retail price. It's currently selling for about $8, which seems right for a popular Commander mythic. You might be able to snag copies in the $3-$5 range at peak supply, but it'll be ticking back up toward $10 again by this time next year. Token generating mythic rares are often the most valuable cards in all of Commander, and I never like betting against them. Grab your copies of Koma before March.
Old-Growth Troll looks pretty pushed to me. This is exactly the card that Mono-Green wanted, and it's good against literally every deck in the format. Old-Growth Troll isn't just a solid inclusion in Mono-Green: it's a reason to play Mono-Green in the first place. A stellar, powerful Standard card. Too bad it won't do much in Commander.
Financially, the only real question to me is whether or not Mono-Green will still be a deck (or will be a deck again) when local play comes back in late 2021 or 2022. I honestly don't know, since the current version of the deck is so reliant on cards from Throne of Eldraine, which will rotate in the fall. Old-Growth Troll is selling for less than $2 right now, though, so you're not going to lose out on much by snagging a set if you play a lot of decks like this in Standard. The power level is definitely there.
Varragoth looks a little slow for competitive constructed, where paying three mana for a 2/3 without haste or an enters-the-battlefield ability is well behind the curve. Even then, you're not exactly getting card advantage off your Varragoth. Perhaps Varragoth can be a Miracles enabler in some older format, or perhaps the creature type Rogue will be good enough to let Varragoth be playable regardless, but I don't really see it.
In Commander, however, Varragoth is outstanding. The political games you can play with a repeatable tutor like this are mouth-watering, especially since you can help an ally snag a piece of removal or another answer for the table's biggest threat. Commander will always welcome more utility creatures with a shot at massively impacting the game, and Varragoth certainly fits that bill. I expect this card to hold a decent amount of value long-term due to its popularity in that format.
That said, I'm not buying Varragoth yet. You still have to pay close to $4 per copy, and that price pretty clearly factors in a lot of demand from people who are higher on Varragoth's Standard chances than I am. Wait a few weeks for the competitive hype to die down, and then claim your copies for Commander. This is probably a $5-$6 card long-term, but I'll be looking to snag mine for a buck or two.
Cyclone Summoner will definitely see a little niche play in Commander, where you can at least dream about casting high-CMC creatures like this. In Commander, you can build around Cyclone Summoner in either a Giant or (more likely, due to its color) Wizard deck, giving yourself access to a second Overloaded copy of Cyclonic Rift. That's certainly solid.
The fact that Cyclone Summoner's ability only works if you cast it from your hand really hurts, though, as does the fact that it bounces most of your permanents if you're not building around the card. Because of that, Cyclone Summoner isn't going to be a new Commander staple like Cyclonic Rift. It'll probably be a bulk rare.
I love Reidane, God of the Worthy. The creature side looks like a great way to slow down control decks, especially since they're likely to be running a lot of snow lands in this environment, while the artifact side is an excellent anti-aggro card that has some splash utility against combo as well. No part of this card is overpowered, but its versatility should allow it to see some competitive play. Whether it's an omnipresent card or a niche sideboard inclusion will depend on how the new metagame develops.
Reidane is also solid in Commander, where more people are running snow lands, 1/1 token creatures are common, and spells with converted mana costs above 3 are omnipresent. This is not a great commander, but it is a great maindeck inclusion that belongs in every Death & Taxes style Commander deck going forward. A retail price of $3-$4 doesn't seem unreasonable to me, though the lack of power level here definitely hurts its ceiling somewhat. Not a card I'd pick up to speculate on, but a fine one to snag if you want to play with it yourself.
2020 was a banner year for Aristocrats-style play thanks to the Cat/Oven engine, a combo that is still among the best in Historic and would still be dominating Standard if it wasn't for a well-placed ban. Immersturm Predator is likely a touch expensive for Aristocrats decks in Historic, but it definitely has the goods to succeed in Standard if its supporting cast is good enough.
As with all engine pieces, Immersturm Predator will live or die based on what you've got to build with it, and we simply don't know what we'll be working with in Q4 of 2021. Immersturm Predator could be a bulk rare, or it could be one of the most impactful cards in the format. Seriously—the range is that wide.
Because of that, I'm probably not buying Immersturm Predator unless I want to play Aristocrats myself or I can get these at bulk rare prices. The card is simply too narrow and volatile to ever be worth much, especially since it's a rare and not a mythic. Best case, it's a $5-$6 format-defining flagship rare. Worst case, you can snag these out of the bulk bin for twelve cents each. If they drop below a buck, I might take a flier on a set or two, but I'll be staying away otherwise.
Let's start with Standard, where I don't think Sarulf, Realm Eater is powerful enough to do much of anything. A 3/3 for 3 is behind the curve these days, especially in green, and the fact that Sarulf is just a medium-sized creature until you start to control the board is just not where I want to be most of the time. Trying to take down the Standard metagame with a bunch of midrange nonsense and hoping that you can eventually get there hasn't worked in quite a while.
Sarulf is a lot more powerful in Commander. This card can get big in a hurry in that format, and its board wipe ability is a lot more fearsome there as well. It's hard for me to heartily recommend this card, though, because Sarulf isn't really all that fun to build around. Other than Pernicious Deed and Magus of the Abyss, I'm not sure what would even go in a Sarulf deck.
I have no doubt that Sarulf will see play in Commander, and I'm sure there are some people out there who are excited to build around this good apocalyptic pupper, but the Commander cards that end up being worth a lot of money are either a little more specific (and more fun to build around) or are the sorts of staples that you'd have to consider no matter what decks you were building, like Cyclonic Rift. I think Sarulf is stuck in the middle, and will thus end up in the sub-$1 range.
How good is Rally the Ranks? That will depend entirely on whether or not we end up with a Standard-playable aggro tribe in white at some point over the next two years. The best-case scenario is something like Intangible Virtue, which saw a lot of play in its day. That was largely due to the presence of Lingering Souls, though, but you never know when WotC will print a powerful tribal token generator. Best case, then, this is a $3-$4 role-player.
Otherwise, Rally the Ranks looks like a bulk rare that might have some long-term casual value. It's a reasonable Commander card, but not a must-play, especially since aggro cards rarely make much of a splash in that format. As with many borderline Standard rares in this set, I'll be looking to buy a few copies when it drops below $1 just in case. I'll be staying away until then.
Elvish Warmaster will see play in Standard if Elf Tribal ends up looking as good as I hope it does. It's too early to say for sure right now, but it definitely wouldn't shock me if that deck ends up being competitive. Elves have been a playable tribe in Standard from time to time, and Kaldheim's Elves feel quite pushed to me. I doubt it'll be a tier one deck, but it might still be both good and popular.
Elvish Warmaster is even stronger in Commander. It'll be pretty easy to net an Elf off the Warmaster every turn, and the Overrun-style ability threatens to overwhelm your opponents late in the game. Put all of this together, and Elvish Warmaster should end up settling in between $1 and $2 based on Commander play alone, with a shot at spiking higher due to possible Standard play or the next time WotC prints a bunch of Elves. Grab your copy within the first couple of weeks.
Don't forget: Midnight Reaper has proven itself as a multi-format all-star. Skemfar Avenger is a narrower card than Midnight Reaper, of course, but it's two mana instead of three, which is huge. In fact, Skemfar Avenger is close to a must-play in any sort of Elf or Berserker tribal deck in Standard, Historic, or Pioneer. It might even drag one of those tribes to viability all by itself.
Skemfar Avenger currently sells for about a dollar, so buying a set for yourself won't break the bank. I don't see this ever being worth more than $3-$4—it's just too narrow, and it's not good enough in Commander—but if you want to mess around with one of these decks in Standard, grabbing a playset of a rare this good for less than $5 total seems fine to me. It really is that good.
You need to have at least two vehicles or pieces of equipment on the battlefield before Reckless Crew becomes even remotely playable, which is not the kind of rate I like in my token generators. I definitely have a Commander deck that might warrant running Reckless Crew, but it's too narrow and underpowered to ever be worth much regardless. Future bulk rare.
Calamity Bearer is effectively a 6/4 for 2RR, so it's a touch better than it looks at first glance. This card is only going to be good if Giant tribal becomes a thing, though, and that just doesn't seem likely to me. Historically, midrange tribes like Giants haven't found all that much competitive constructed success, and I don't think this card is enough to tip those scales in the opposite direction. Do you really want to bet on a card like this not ending up in the bulk bin? I sure don't.
I can definitely see Snow Control playing a few copies of Graven Lore. If you can scry 3 with regularity—which doesn't seem that hard to me—then this card is going to be quite good if you can get it off. Jace's Ingenuity was somewhat playable back in its day, after all, and Graven Lore is a lot better than that.
On the other hand, you really want your control deck's key draw spell to be less than five mana. At the five-mana mark, you want to be playing cards that can generate immediate advantage on the battlefield. It's possible that the power level here is high enough to make up for everything else, but my guess is that Graven Lore ends up being a $1-$2 Standard role-player.
Battle for Bretagard looks like a bulk rare to me. It might see some play if we get a couple of additional powerful token generators, but the fact of the matter is that this is going to be a slow way to make between two and four 1/1 tokens most of the time. If Angel tokens start fluttering around in Standard, this could potentially make one of those sometimes, but that's not the kind of upside that's worth relying on.
Sadly, Battle for Bretagard is also a bit too slow and underpowered for Commander. Some folks will play it in their Selesnya Tokens brews, but there are better options most of the time. I'm staying away.
I don't think Battle of Frost and Fire will get there. It's a possible inclusion in the Giant tribal deck that I don't expect to ever do anything, I suppose, but I've already told you why I'm skeptical about that. Why is Standard interested in a five-mana wrath that won't kill either Bonecrusher Giant or Lovestruck Beast? Exactly. This isn't going to do enough in Commander, either. Future bulk rare.
Arni Brokenbrow looks like a Standard-playable card. Haste is a perennially undervalued ability, and the fact that you can activate Arni's ability after he's declared as an attacker but before damage means that this card has the potential to hit for a lot. WotC seems to be pushing Berserker tribal, too, meaning that this card can slot right into a deck that's liable to be at least decently good. This card has a shot at being $2-$3 for a while, though perhaps not until competitive play returns to your LGS.
Much like Skemfar Avenger, Arni Brokenbrow is a solid constructed card that is not going to make the cut in Commander. If you can pick these up for under a buck and you want to build Rakdos Berserkers or something, feel free. Otherwise, just wait a few weeks. This is not the kind of card likely to hold its value right now, despite its power level.
We've seen two cards like Ascendant Spirit in the past: Figure of Destiny and Warden of the First Tree. Both ended up being far more playable than they looked at first. It's possible that Ascendant Spirit will be the first card like this to break that mold, but the power level certainly looks to be there. If Ascendant Spirit fails to make an impact, it's because the game has moved on—not because this is a significantly worse version of this type of card. I also think people are underrating how splashable Ascendant Spirit is. You really just need the one blue mana, and then you can use mana from any snow land to power it up after that.
I'd be higher on Ascendant Spirit if it were good in Commander—cards like this rarely see much play in that format—but the current buy price of just over $2 seems like a decent gamble based on constructed play alone. It might not pan out, but it's a cheap risk for a card that could turn out to be one of the defining creatures of the year. I'm in for a set.
Cosmos Elixir is a pretty solid card. If you can stick an Elixir against control, you can gain a few life and then start out-drawing them. At the very least, this seems like a good sideboard card in certain match-ups.
As for Commander, I can see running this in dedicated lifegain decks. A card that reads "gain 2 life" is an even worse late-game draw in Commander than in Standard, though, which should prevent it from seeing a lot of play. None of this screams high financial value to me, and I expect Cosmos Elixir to be a sub-dollar card. Grab a copy or two for your sideboard box if you're a dedicated Standard player, though.
Realmwalker is the exact kind of card that I like to speculate on. You can make a case for slotting it right into basically every green-based tribal deck out there, especially in Commander. That level of utility will only rise as WotC prints more sets and popularizes more creature types.
I can also see Realmwalker seeing competitive play, especially in older formats, giving you an additional recruiter-style card on the splash. Cards that only get better with time are among the safest specs in the game, and goodness knows how many people love their tribal strategies. Grab your copies ASAP, preferably while they're still between $2 and $3. This is a $7-$8 card somewhere down the line.
In Search of Greatness seems like a terrific card. In fact, it has the look of a card that we're all going to look back on and say "wait, why did WotC print THAT?"
The best part of In Search of Greatness is that it always does something. Can't put an absurd permanent into play for free? Well, then you have an enchantment that sits around and lets you scry each turn. That's nearly worth GG by itself, meaning that the card's game-breaking ability is all upside. There are all sorts of cute ways to win a game out of nowhere with In Search of Greatness, too, starting with the fact that leylines are legal in most constructed formats. This card might not be as good as Aether Vial or Birthing Pod, but it's closer than you might think.
In Search of Greatness is also excellent in Commander. Just like in competitive constructed play, getting to scry once a turn is quite powerful in that format. Commander is also a format that's tailor-made for one big play after another, and this card will accelerate you by a full turn or two more often than you might think.
That said, current retail price for this card is $7.99. That's high for a non-mythic rare that hasn't proven itself yet. While I honestly believe in In Search of Greatness, I do expect it'll dip a bit before it starts to trend upward again. Pay close attention to this card, and see if you can snag a few copies in a month or so. You're going to want them in your collection at some point.
Rise of the Dread Marn has some potential in Standard. Granted, it only works for non-token creatures that die (not leave the battlefield), so its utility will depend a lot on what mass removal spells end up being the most popular. But the fact that it works on your opponents' creatures as well as your own is a pretty big game. This is a sideboard staple for sure.
As far as Commander goes, I think most decks are going to prefer proactive cards. Zombie decks aren't going to love the fact that Rise of the Dread Marn doesn't work on their own tokens, and most mages are simply going to want to run cards that are good all the time, not just when someone casts a non-exile wrath spell. It has some utility, I suppose, but this is probably a future bulk rare.
Search for Glory is an amazing tutor. I have no idea why more people aren't excited about this card, but I sure am. The ability to fetch snow permanents and sagas is only going to get better with time, and "legendary card" is just an absurd thing to be able to search up. You know what cards are all legendary, to start with? Planeswalkers.
Search for Glory might see a little play in Standard, but this is a Commander spec through and through. You can currently snag these for right around a buck, and I don't see that buy going wrong. It's possible that Search for Glory will bottom out in the $0.50 range, so timing the market might be a little difficult, but cards like this always end up in the $4-$5 range long-term. Make sure you grab a few of these at some point over the next few months.
There were quite a few spikes this week, but let's start with the one that's gotten the most attention on social media. Revised copies of Wheel of Fortune jumped from $200 to $400 last week, at least according to MTG Goldfish, and a lot of people began freaking out that one of the best cards on the Reserved List was being bought out yet again.
Don't get me wrong: Wheel of Fortune did spike a bit last week, but it wasn't from $200 to $400 in a matter of days. It was more like $200 to $300 in about two weeks:
I also want to be clear that there was no speculative buyout here. I took a look at these orange bars, and nearly every Wheel of Fortune buyer snagged just a single copy. As with most of these "buyouts," the price doesn't move because some evil speculator bought up 1,300 copies—it moved because somebody says "Wheel of Fortune is going up in price!" and a whole bunch of people pick up their personal copies ASAP so they don't risk missing out on the older price. This ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the price really does surge due to increased demand and lack of supply.
At this point, Wheel of Fortune is probably heading toward $500+ and there isn't much we can do about it. If you want a copy, I'd suggest waiting a few months for the conversation to move on, and you might be able to snag an HP copy at a deal. It's rarely worth buying into the FOMO spikes, even if you think the price might continue to rise, because competition is just so fierce.
Speaking of spikes, there were a few others this week. Take a look at Rhys the Exiled:
What happened here? It's Lathril, Blade of the Elves, a brand-new Elf commander from Kaldheim that folks are really excited to build around. Rhys the Exiled plays super well with Lathril, and the fact that it was only printed once, back in Morningtide, makes it super susceptible to these kinds of spikes. This is another example of community FOMO, as a few people might have picked up extra copies but the majority of sales were singletons. Don't expect this card to drop below $20 again any time soon.
Want to see an actual speculative buyout? Check out what happened to Reserved List staple Earthcraft this week:
Think this spike looks artificial? You're absolutely right. In fact, all the copies of Earthcraft that sold on January 15th were bought by just two people. This appears to have spiked the card from $100 to about $180, but who knows where it'll eventually settle. It depends if these speculators were angling for long-term profits, or if they're hoping to just dump their copies back on the market for a quick flip. Either way, I wouldn't trust the price tag of this card for a little while. It's not based on anything other than the whims of a couple speculators.
If you want to see a hybrid buyout/FOMO spike, check out Pox:
There were definitely a couple of speculators contributing to the big sales spike on January 9th, but most copies sold that day and have since gone to eager Commander players. That's because Pox is a lot of fun with Tegrid, God of Fright. While there was some speculative action involved here, the new price clearly looks to be sticking. Pox should remain in high demand as long as people are actively building Tegrid decks.