Hello! It's DJ Johnson here, resident bulk specialist and Magic finance writer at TCGplayer. Every time a new set is previewed, I try to do my part and give a sort of "financial set review." I present some of my favorite cards in the set, and whether I think those cards will be worth something in the near or immediate future. You might be familiar with Craig Wescoe's version, where he provides his Pro Tour level opinion on some rares and mythics that could be under or overvalued during the preview season. My set review is similar, but our areas of expertise are a bit different. I'm going to focus entirely on the commons and uncommons in Ixalan, and give you a heads up on which non-rares you should be setting aside from your booster box, draft tables, or prerelease kits.
The primary reason I enjoy the bulk side of Magic is because there are more opportunities that a large percentage of Standard/Modern/Limited players cast aside. I've seen many a Standard player happily rip open their box of Kaladesh that they opened as their PPTQ winnings, only to take home the rares, foils and Aether Hub. They sell the "useless" bulk to me, and all those Servant of the Conduit, Longtusk Cub and Glint-Nest Crane get added to my pile of unsorted bulk that I later sort, process and sell for a higher margin. Once you get the hang of picking out the cards that players tend to forget about, you can see a lot of value in your own collection, or the collections that you purchase from other people!
For this set review, I've sorted each of the sections by color, and listed the top 10 "Best Sellers" according to TCGplayer's marketplace data. These are the top 10 commons and uncommons that are being preordered in droves, because they're in such high demand right now. While my picks and opinions will have value, data is important as well!
I don't think there will be a competitive Vampire tribal deck immediately following the release of Ixalan, but that won't stop people from trying. This is one of the more aggressive two-drops out there, but it matches up really poorly against the Ramunap Red deck that loses practically nothing on rotation. I don't expect this card to be a highly valued pick out of the gates, but it could pick up steam with the second set in the block though.
Time will tell if this pales in comparison, or proves to be more useful than the current four-mana Banishing Light variant, Cast Out. Flash is a heck of an ability in countermagic-focused lists though, but one could reasonably play both depending on the meta. I want to pick these out of bulk for the next several months, and have them in stock for Standard players.
If Dinosaurs does end up hitting it off in Constructed, I imagine it'll be a red and green focused list. I don't think a 0/3 is going to hold off many of Ramunap Red's "Can't block" effects very well, but I think this will see more play in the casual circles outside of local game stores. It's also probably a shoe-in for the dinosaur Commander deck, although that won't affect its price point at all.
If someone needs these in an Oketra's Monument deck, they'll need a playset. Monument turns all of your Conquistadors into Dwyen's Elite, but this card faces a lot of competition at the three-drop slot. It probably doesn't get sold to a buylist for anything in the next few months, but there's very little effort or cost involved in holding a playset aside just in case.
We've hit one of the first Best Sellers of the set! It's not hard to see why; this card is well above the average rate for a Divination effect if you're on the offensive. It's pre-ordering for around $.50 right now and being snapped up by Standard players, and I might even want one for my Sygg, River Cutthroat Commander deck, where I play tribal rogues with prowl. I'll be really happy pulling these from bulk for the next 24 months.
I don't think there are quite enough good Pirates to break through in Constructed. If there are, I don't think this conditional counter gets played. It feels like Metallic Rebuke where the extra cost of trying to be Mana Leak is a little too much, and the small hoop to jump through is still a hoop. That being said, I'm still going to be picking these out of bulk for the less competitive Pirate decks in the more casual 60-card and 99-card worlds. It's not on the Best Seller list, but that's likely just due to a lot of really strong competition.
This common from Invasion with crazy art is being added to the Modern card pool, and we saw all too quickly the effect on the original foils, which currently have a market price of $17. Even the non-foil versions of the Ixalan one are preordering for almost $1 alone, which is incredible for a Fall set common. I'm going to be very happy selling these for $1 now and $.50 in the near future. This is probably going to be a common that many Standard and Modern players have their eye on right from the start, so don't be surprised if they're already pulled from draft table bulk. However, if you're someone who's been playing for a while and have Invasion bulk sitting around, it's time to go digging!
Most Pirate decks are going to want this on the first turn every game. I don't know if a Pirate deck manifests at the top tables of the Pro Tour, but people are going to try it anyway at events like FNM and Standard Showdown. They even tacked on Wizard as an additional creature type, although I don't think it has the mettle to compete with other Wizards in a 99-card format like Commander. Every single Pirate deck wants four, and that's proven by the market price of $1.00. This set has some awesome bulk commons and uncommons right out of the gate!
It's back! Spell Pierce used to be one of the more expensive commons, going a long time without a reprint from back in original Zendikar block. It crept up to $2 until the price point was taken down a peg by Modern Masters 2017. This is going to be the nail in the metaphorical coffin, but don't let that fool you when picking bulk. Just because they're worth less doesn't mean people will need to pierce some spells any less. You'll just be getting a little less for them, and you'll find them in bulk more often because other people will assume they're worthless!
It's back…. also! Duress has been printed approximately seven billion times over a million gazillion sets, so don't be expecting a huge payoff when shipping these to buylist. However, you can usually guarantee a dollar or so at the trade tables of an LGS when someone needs a playset for an event. I sell these at our shop for $.25, so keep that in mind when picking other bulk like Dragons of Tarkir, Magic 14, or Eternal Masters.
Staple a Duress onto a Pirate, and you've got a best seller. Being a cheap aerial creature will turn on raid easily, and remove the removal from your opponent's hand so you can keep, uh, raiding. Even if you're more of a "ride dinos and smash face" kind of person, you'll want to hold a playset of this card aside so you can trade it for some scaled, feathered lizards.
I think it could be tough to fit this into some Standard lists; not because of the Merfolk clause, but because sorcery speed removal always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Apparently enough people disagree; enough to bump the price on this card to $1 presale, and leave it as one of TCGplayer's best0selling uncommons prior to release. Remember that this was the Open House promo, akin to Abrade from Hour of Devastation. If you want to hold off and try your hand at winning some full art copies, you'll have your opportunity in about a month.
A Standard staple immediately upon its release, Lightning Strike is one you don't want to forget about in bulk piles, and like Duress these will be easy trade fodder.
Most Dinosaur decks will start with four copies of Drover and four copies of this card. While the white version just offers some toughness, this guy gets into the fray himself, or speeds up the process of your opponent getting T-Wrecked. Don't let the lower market price fool you into thinking this should be left on a draft table, or tossed into your pile of true bulk. Pick up some Huntmasters, even if they're not Werewolves.
I'm not an expert in Ramunap Red, but I have a feeling that people will be trying this out as a replacement to Falkenrath Gorger. If they can play a Jackal Pup without a drawback, I don't see why they can't play a Boros Recruit with upside. It's not in the top 10 best sellers, but it's a Pirate with a chance to see competitive Standard play. If Red ends up dominating the Pro Tour, this could be a $1 uncommon and you'll want to own your set yesterday.
In order to play our seven and eight-mana dinosaurs, we're gonna need ramp. A lot of ramp. Do we have ramp that turns into 3/3s? That we do. This is another "could hit Constructed, but definitely hits the casual and Commander" tribal buddy. Seeing a pattern? Cards that are going to hit in multiple formats end up being best sellers, even if those formats aren't top tier competitive Magic.
One of the best ways we can maximize our value in picking bulk is knowing about multiple formats, and the bridges that intersect between them. If you buy bulk from a Standard and Modern player, you're more likely to find cards valuable to casual or Commander, and vice-versa. Buying bulk from a less competitive person will land you some of the competitive cards like Censor and Longtusk Cub.
I think this is my favorite Enrage card. I love me some Rampant Growth, and this guy blocks 2/xs like a champ. Maybe it's my fond nostalgia of slamming down Viridian Emissary in Standard, but this is a dino that ramps into other dinos just by doing dino things. If this doesn't see Standard play, I'm going to be so happy pulling these out of bulk.
I'm kind of surprised to see this on the top 10 Best Sellers, but I probably shouldn't be. While the market price is half of the Drover and 30% of the Ranging Raptors, fight effects are an important role player in green decks as removal. That becomes doubly important when you get Enrage triggers, making this a super Prey Upon. Pick'em.
I think most pure Pirate decks will need blue to function properly if they're going to claw their way to the top tables of FNM, but maybe Rakdos is the way to go. The best scenario is attacking with this for three on turn three, but I'm not holding my breath for it to become the next $1 uncommon when there's already so much value packed into the set elsewhere. I'll pick it, but I'm not stockpiling and waiting.
It's been awhile since we saw a Boros aggro deck take the stage, but maybe this has the raw stats to change that. It competes with Veteran Motorist for a slot, or maybe they both just go in the same deck. Either way, I'm not turning a blind eye to those stats tacked onto a Dinosaur. Picked and ready to sell.
This could see some Commander play, considering how Herald's Horn is a $5 card right now. I don't think it sees the top tables of Standard, which is exactly why many players will shrug off its existence and leave it for you to pull from bulk. I like it down the road when I'll be buylisting them for $.10-.15 apiece.
This fights with Crook of Condemnation, similarly to how Cast Out duels for the same slot against Ixalan's Binding. Either could be good depending on what the meta calls for, or neither could be necessary if the graveyard doesn't end up being a popular resource. I'm always a fan of overpicking instead of underpicking, so into the pile they go.
The "fair" Cavern of Souls is in the top three Best Sellers for the non-rares of Ixalan, and with great reason. It's a budget alternative to Cavern that might even see a little bit of play in Eternal formats. Maybe Slivers wants this? Even if they don't, a ton of other people will. Wizards of the Coast created a perfect storm of hype by combining a tribal theme in this fall set with the tribal Commander 2017 decks. Everyone who opened one of those preconstructed decks to play with is going to want these; it's likely the Aether Hub of the set, and you should do a little mental fist pump when you find these in bulk. It'll survive the test of rotation, and always be worth buylisting or jamming in a Commander deck.
The prerelease is fast approaching! I'll be in Georgia when this article comes out, playing at the Card Advantage shop in Athens. Are there any common or uncommon Treasures (other than the tokens) that you think will be strong buylist candidates in the near future? Which non-rares do you believe will have a strong impact on multiple formats, causing a financier like me to turn my head? Let's talk in the comments section or on Twitter at @Rose0fthorns. Enjoy the rest of your week!
- DJ Johnson