Welcome back to my ongoing Strixhaven Financial Set Review. Last week, I talked at length about the Mystical Archive, which is certainly going to go down as the set's most unique and enduring quality. If you haven't read that article yet, you can follow the link right below this paragraph.
This week, we're going to start delving into Strixhaven proper. That's right, it's card-by-card financial set review time, starting with the set's two most exciting cycles: The Elder Dragons and the Commands. We'll also cover dozens of the set's other high quality mythics and rares, so you're not going to want to miss this one.
Before we get into the individual cards, however, I want to talk a little bit about Strixhaven as a whole.
Financially, it's quite likely that Strixhaven is going to be contending with a series of confounding market forces. Stimulus checks are still driving the Magic market to higher highs, and the success of the US vaccine rollout has been an injection of optimism into the arms of the player base. People are buying cards to play with their friends again, and they have the money to do so. Strixhaven is likely to sell well. It might end up being one of the best-selling sets of all time.
We're also coming off a pretty serious run of sets that were either under-printed, priced above a normal set, or limited in some way. While Kaldheim behaved more or less like a normal set, Time Spiral Remastered, Jumpstart, Commander Legends, and Double Masters were all released within the past year and all four of those sets have been financial oddities. Time Spiral Remastered is especially sticky in all of our memories, and I wouldn't be surprised if people were quicker to pick up chase cards in Strixhaven because they missed out on Time Spiral. Remember: people tend to weigh the last thing that happened to them quite heavily when making decisions.
But Strixhaven isn't a limited-run set. Boxes are going to be cheap and plentiful. This set will be heavily opened all spring and summer long. Furthermore, the Mystical Archive is going to depress the price of cards in the rest of the set because that slot has quite a bit of value, much like we saw in the sets that had Masterpieces back in the day. Add that to a set that's likely to be opened in massive quantities, and you have the recipe for a lot of very cheap rares and mythics.
Overall, I suspect that Strixhaven's best cards will start high, and might even climb a bit after release due to overall demand, hype, and the amount of money in the market right now. Over time, however, the cards in this set could end up dropping pretty low due to how many packs will be opened and the addition of the Mystical Archive. To that end, I recommend being patient if you can. Grab the cards that you really want to play with over the next six to eight weeks, and put off the rest. You'll be glad you did.
Of course, every set has its share of cards that are wildly underrated—and underpriced—during the pre-order period. If you hit big on one of those, you can pay for the rest of your year-long Magic habit. There are also plenty of Commander cards worth picking up ASAP due to their interactions with Strixhaven's hottest new legendary creatures.
Let's begin the card-by-card set review with a five-card cycle I'm super stoked to evaluate: Strixhaven's brand new Elder Dragons.
Boros is one of the least popular color pairs in Commander. Seven mana is also a lot to ask a white and red deck to generate, since neither color is particularly effective at ramping. Velomachus Lorehold doesn't have protection, nor does it do anything unless you attack with it. Even then, the effect has a degree of randomness that makes it hard to build around.
While I expect Velomachus Lorehold will have its fans in the format, this is far from a future format staple and will likely end up one of the cheaper Elder Dragons. I'm not interested at its current pre-order price of $11.
Galazeth Prismari is going to be a popular commander. This Dragon has an ability quite similar to Urza, Lord High Artificer, which has proven itself to be both a powerful and desirable card in the format. The fact that Galazeth wants you to play with a lot of cheap artifacts and a lot of cheap instants and sorceries might be a little hard to reconcile, but I definitely think that folks will have fun finding a proper balance. Consider foil copies of Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith, Trail of Evidence, Saheeli, Sublime Artificer, and Metallurgic Summonings as potential secondary spikes.
Galazeth Prismari might also see play in Standard, Historic, or perhaps even Modern. If you're going to pre-order a card from this set, I don't hate snagging this one before people realize how good it is.
Tanazir Quandrix is an amazing go-wide tokens commander. While this strategy has historically been more dominant in Selesnya than Simic, Tanazir is exactly the kind of card you'd want in your Edric, Spymaster of Trest deck. Or perhaps you'd rather put Edric in your Tanazir deck! Either way, that card might see an uptick of play in the coming days. Ezuri, Claw of Progress, Master Biomancer, Blade of Selves, and Cultivator of Blades are likely inclusions in Tanazir decks as well.
It's also worth remembering that cards that double the number of counters on other creatures tend to hold their value well. While go-wide strategies are a little less popular, Tanazir will have plenty of fans. It's a high floor card for that reason, and you can feel free to snag a copy now if you want it.
Shadrix Silverquill is by far the most intriguing member of the new Elder Dragon cycle. While the rest of these cards are doing things we've seen out of these color pairs before, Shadrix hits hard (especially if you give it a counter every turn) while providing you with the ability to generate political goodwill on the table. It's not the most powerful card I've ever seen, but if you want to play politics? Shadrix is there to help.
Is this kind of card likely to hold much value? Not really. It's no good for competitive play, and it's niche enough that I can't see it ending up as a super expensive commander, either. I'd stay away until it drops into the $3-$5 range, but at that point I'd definitely think about snapping up a personal copy or two. It's just so cool!
Beledros Witherbloom might be the best member of the cycle for Commander play. Seven mana is a lot, but it's certainly a lot easier in green, and Golgari is always happy to have solid reanimation targets. The Verdant Force ability (a creature on every upkeep) adds up fast, as does the life gain. Most importantly, you can use Beledros to untap on your opponents' turns in order to respond to their splashy plays. That's exactly where I want to be in Commander, even if I can only do it once or twice a game.
I'd recommend snagging Beledros Witherbloom now if it wasn't pre-ordering for a whopping $25, which is just too much. Seven mana multicolored cards with no competitive demand simply aren't going to be worth that much unless they're in sets with expensive booster packs or incredibly low print runs. I'd definitely snag a few copies when they bottom out, though. This card is going to have its die-hard fans for years to come.
I really respect Strixhaven for trying to give Boros a couple of unique commanders with a play-style that we haven't quite seen before. Reanimator decks have been a thing in Magic for years, of course, but Boros Reanimator? Hofri Ghostforge might enable it, at least on a pretty casual basis. The most interesting idea I've seen put forth so far is to combine Hofri with some of Kamigawa block's Spirits and soulshift cards—things like Celestial Kirin. Sneak Attack works well too, as do Reveillark and Karmic Guide. I haven't seen any price movement for any of these cards yet, but Celestial Kirin has a colossally low print run and Karmic Guide always has the potential to spike.
As for Hofri Ghostforge itself, I don't think there's much juice here. This is a niche commander that probably won't slot into too many other decks, and I can't imagine this is good enough for competitive play. Future $2-$3 mythic with a shot at $5+ eventually.
Magma Opus is a solid card. It'll see a little bit of play in Commander, though its lack of focus hurts it somewhat, and I suspect it won't make the cut outside of decks that really want a critical mass of Izzet spells or Treasure tokens. Competitively, Magma Opus most likely home is alongside Torrential Gearhulk in Historic. That format is primarily online for now, but I have seen an uptick in Torrential Gearhulk sales in recent days that seems connected. I don't hate the idea of grabbing a few of those right now, just in case.
As for Magma Opus itself, it's probably too niche a card to stick at its current retail price of $6. That sentence could age extremely poorly if Magma Opus becomes, like, the key card in a Standard Temur Ramp deck next month, but that's not a bet I'm going to be taking personally. Just be aware that this mythic has higher upside than most of the cards we're talking about today, and if you feel confident that it is going to end up being the next big thing, go with your gut.
I've seen a lot of hype around Body of Research, but I don't really buy it. Sure, it makes an arbitrarily-large creature for six mana, but when is that good enough? Magic is full of barely playable creatures that are simply very big, and I don't think that making an even bigger one is going to suddenly change the calculus. The stringent mana requirements here make me think of the Ultimatum cycle, and I'd probably rather play one of those most of the time.
In Commander, however, Body of Research definitely goes into any sort of Simic "tokens matter" deck. That won't be enough to keep the price over the $3-$4 range, but cards that allow you to move tokens around might see a small uptick in price if Body of Research ends up being popular. The Ozolith comes to mind, but most Ozolith decks aren't in dedicated Simic colors right now. Even so, that's probably the card you want to snag ASAP if you want to place a bet on Body of Research being a popular Commander card.
Blot Out the Sky does not make tokens at a high enough rate for either Commander or competitive Constructed. The fact that you can't block with them the turn you play this spell hurts too, as does the fact that Blot Out the Sky is a sorcery. It'll make the cut now and then, I suppose, but this is a future bulk mythic.
What a killer card. From its bonkers mana cost to its instantly iconic art to its brief but powerful text box, Harness Infinity just has the look of a card people are going to want to play with. Yes, this card is too expensive for competitive Constructed, and yeah, it's a win-more in Commander, but don't underestimate the demand that this card will have simply due to its wow factor. I'm definitely playing this in any Golgari-based Commander deck that plays out of the graveyard, which is all of them. I imagine I won't be alone. Future $5-$6 card.
Prismari Command is an excellent competitive Constructed card. It will see play in Standard and is worth considering for Modern, Pioneer, Historic, etc. as well. Getting to choose between four modes on a three-mana instant-speed Command is just incredibly good. We're looking at a $3-$5 card if it only sees play in Standard, with $10-$15 upside—at least short-term—if it makes the leap to Eternal play.
Is that enough to make me buy in at the current retail price of almost $8? Probably not, especially since there's no Commander demand to really back up your play here. This is a very powerful card, though, and if you want to buy in, I support you.
As with the rest of these commands, Quandrix Command is probably not making the cut in Commander. There simply isn't a lot of room for utility cards that don't play directly into your deck's strategy, and all leftover room is usually taken up by cards like Rhystic Study and Cyclonic Rift. Some folks will run Quandrix Command, and it'll do its job just fine, but cards like this rarely hold a Commander premium because they're so replaceable. Don't own this card? No problem. Just play another tempo-based utility spell.
At any rate, Quandrix Command might not be stellar in Commander, but it's a solid competitive Constructed card. You really want to be countering a spell and bouncing a creature with it, though, so it's probably going to end up as a sideboard play in some sort of Simic-based tempo deck. Its current retail price of $3-$4 probably represents its realistic upside, but I do think it'll see play, and I could be underrating yet another three-mana instant-speed Command. Historically, these cards have overperformed expectations. I wouldn't be shocked if it happens again here.
On the other hand, four-mana sorcery-speed Commands do not have a great track record. These spells really need to be at instant speed, very cheap, or both. It's easy to get a two-for-one off Silverquill Command, but we've seen a lot of cards like this in the past, and they rarely turn into Constructed powerhouses. Future bulk rare.
Competitive Constructed decks probably aren't dropping five mana on Lorehold Command, even at instant speed, especially in a color pair where ramp is hard to come by. In Commander, this is a totally reasonable role-player that is probably not going to make the cut if you've got a large enough collection. Future bulk rare.
None of the modes on Witherbloom Command are particularly great, but the fact that this card costs just two mana means that it will see play in Standard and perhaps older competitive formats as well. It's certainly a lot better in fetch land formats, where you might be able to get an easy and significant two-for-one as early as turn two. Sorcery speed hurts a lot, but much less at the two-mana mark than up at four.
I'm not willing to gamble at the current retail price of $8, though. That price is only going to hold if Witherbloom Command ends up a Modern staple. Otherwise, you're looking at a solid $2-$5 Standard role-player.
Devastating Mastery is similar enough to Planar Cleansing that I wouldn't be surprised if it saw some sideboard play in Standard, but the four-mana mode is very bad and only worth casting in an emergency. It has some interesting political implications in Commander, but that's not ever going to be enough to get me to run it over a dozen better white board wipes. Future bulk rare with $1 upside.
Leonin Lightscribe is stronger than it looks at first glance. I've seen some Seeker of the Way comparisons, but that card saw play primarily because the lifelink it provided allowed you to outrace the other aggro and midrange decks in the format. Leonin Lightscribe is far better in the mid-to-late game, though, allowing you to go wide with aplomb in any white-based aggro deck. It'll be a Standard staple if the format supports that kind of strategy, and it should see play in some go-wide tokens decks in Commander as well. This card is currently selling for about $2, and there's definite $4-$5 upside here.
Strict Proctor is a solid card. A 1/3 flier for two is peskier than it looks, and triggered abilities are all over the place in Magic's current era. It reminds me a lot of Hushbringer, which is currently a $1-$2 card. My guess is that Strict Proctor will end up in roughly the same range.
I also wouldn't be shocked if Phyrexian Dreadnought spikes again due to this card's printing. Strict Proctor plays really nicely with that Reserved List gem, and I've seen an increase in demand since this card was first previewed. I'm not sure how much higher it can go, but Reserved List cards will spike if you so much as glance in their general direction.
Semester's End might see some sideboard play in Standard, but holding up 3W for this is rarely where you want to be in games of competitive Magic. The place where Semester's End really shines is in flicker-based Commander decks, like Roon of the Hidden Realm. That's a fairly popular strategy, and I wouldn't be shocked if Semester's End sticks around the $1 range because of it.
That said, this is likely to end up a $0.20 card that I'll pick up several dozen copies of to flip the next time WotC releases a "flicker these permanents!" commander. Those are my favorite kinds of low-risk specs, and I'll be setting a calendar notice to check on the price of Semester's End six to seven weeks from now.
PVDDR! I love that WotC brought back Invitational-style cards, and Paulo definitely deserves to be immortalized like this. Don't forget: this is the mega-cycle of cards that has brought us hits like Meddling Mage and Dark Confidant. I would be shocked if Elite Spellbinder is a total bust. WotC wants these cards to succeed.
While Elite Spellbinder isn't a Commander card, I do expect it to see play in Standard and possibly Modern as well. A 3/1 flier can end the game fast, and adding a permanent cost of two colorless mana to your opponent's best card is a heck of a tempo play. If there's any sort of Azorius Tempo or white-based aggro deck in the format, Elite Spellbinder should be there. If it impacts older formats, we could be looking at a $7-$10 card long term. It's a risk, but I don't hate buying in at the current retail price of $5.
Strixhaven Stadium is probably too cute for competitive Constructed, though it might see some play if Standard becomes incredibly grindy. Otherwise, this is a solid card for any Commander deck that wants to go wide. Got an army of tokens? You just kill your opponent if they can't block at least ten of them. That's kind of a win-more, admittedly, but the fact that it comes strapped to a mana rock makes Strixhaven Stadium eminently playable.
Financially, I'm a bit surprised to see Strixhaven Stadium starting at $7 and rising in price. I'd buy it if this card produced mana that wasn't colorless, but as-is I think this card is more niche than some people seem to think. It's good, but I think you'll be able to buy in closer to $2-$3 if you're patient.
Wandering Archaic is similar enough to Rhystic Study and Smothering Tithe that I have to believe it is going to be an absurdly popular Commander staple. The fact that it's colorless means it can slot into literally any deck, too. Oh—and its status as a modal double-faced card means that it isn't easy to reprint in any random Masters set or Commander product. Seriously—Wandering Archaic is gold, and it will be worth a lot of money for a long time.
Right now, Wandering Archaic is selling for right around $11. My guess is that it dips a bit on release weekend before shooting right back up again, just like Smothering Tithe did. If you're going to pre-order an expensive card from Strixhaven, this is the one. It has $20+ long-term upside.
Radiant Scrollwielder is an incredibly powerful card… if you can get it to stick around while you have some good spells in your graveyard. That's a lot to ask for a four-mana 2/4 in weak Commander colors. It'll win some games, but it is niche enough that I suspect it'll be a future bulk rare.
Culmination of Studies is a Limited bomb, and any Commander deck in Izzet colors that's designed to generate a lot of mana is going to at least consider running this. Its overall rate is slightly poor, though, and there are plenty of other spells in the history of Magic that compare favorably to Culmination of Studies. Future bulk rare.
Double Major is overrated. Copying creature spells as they're being played is weaker than cloning creatures on the battlefield, and even clones generally tend to disappoint. It's possible that the cheap mana cost here might cure all ills, but this is more likely to be a $1-$2 role-player than the $8 staple it's being treated as right now.
Silverquill Silencer looks like a Meddling Mage, but I don't think it'll play out quite the same. Meddling Mage was effective in some controlling builds because it locked the opponent down, while Silverquill Silencer trades a more conditional ability for an extra point of power. That makes this more suited for an Orzhov-based aggro deck, ideally one that can take advantage of the tempo swing.
That's a good card, but it's narrower, and it's definitely not for Commander. I can see it ending up in the $3-$5 range, but I wouldn't buy in at current retail of $7.50.
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell sees some play, and Blade Historian is likely to fill a similar role in competitive Constructed formats. It might also see some play alongside Winota, Joiner of Forces, a card that seems to get a new friend every couple of weeks these days. Blade Historian isn't much of a Commander card, though, and even Torbran rarely sold above $1. Blade Historian will likely be worth about the same.
I haven't seen anyone get excited for Elemental Expressionist, and copies are readily available for $1 or less. Unless we're all missing something, this is a future bulk rare.
Manifestation Sage might be a two-for-one, but it also feels like a bulk rare. This card is awful in the late game, and I'm not sure why I'm playing it unless I can copy or flicker it a bunch. It might see a little play in Commander, but it won't be worth much.
Orzhov-based go-wide tokens decks will play Dramatic Finale, but it won't be one of the better cards in your deck. The token generation will help in games when you're on the back foot, especially since you're essentially getting a free 3/2 flyer with this card in play, but Commander is a game of big, sweeping plays and this card isn't that, despite the name. Future $1 rare.
Daemogoth Titan is big. Very big! And 11/10 for four mana is gigantic, especially in a color pair with access to ramp. There's no trample, of course, and the drawback is pretty massive whenever you attack or block. It might see some play in a mono-green beatdown-style deck with a couple of small mana creatures to sac, but I'm just not sure I'd ever play Daemogoth Titan over, say, Questing Beast. It's got $1-$2 upside, but it's likely a bulk rare.
Venerable Warsinger is a powerful card. Trample helps a lot here, and the fact that this can hit for a solid amount and recur another creature without any outside help means that this is a must-answer card all on its own. Pump it up with any one of hundreds of options, and you've got a creature that can hit hard while recurring nearly anything. That's what I like to see out of my three-drop. I've also seen people get excited about Venerable Warsinger in both Standard and Commander, which is a good sign for its future demand.
Venerable Warsinger is currently selling for right around $2, and that's a solid price. Worst case, you've dropped less than $10 on a playset of a card that's not quite as good as it looks. Best case, you've got a really solid staple on your hands. There's $5-$7 upside here, and that's enough to get me to snag a few copies now.
Let's break this down:
Is doing all of that for 4U good enough to save this card? I don't think so. Multiple Choice has the look of a card that was an instant all through development but was powered down past the point of playability at the last moment. This looks like a future bulk rare to me, and I'd rather just snag one of the modal commands if I want this kind of versatility.
Vanishing Verse is a future format staple. It's better than Despark in most instances, and I'd rather run it over Ultimate Price a lot of the time, too. It's top tier in Standard, playable in Commander, and worth considering in older formats.
It has a floor around $3, and upside around $10-$12 if it sees a lot of Eternal play or if Standard demand comes back in a big way. If you can snag copies close to that floor, I'd make sure to have a playset heading into the fall. This is the kind of card that will see a big price surge after Eldraine rotates and people get really excited about Standard again.
Rushed Rebirth is too cute for competitive Constructed, but it is going to be a future Golgari staple in Commander. It's a cheap and effective tutor, especially since it can leave you with the best creature in your deck after an epic board wipe. You should be able to pick these up in the $1-$2 range over the short-term, but this is a $5-$6 card down the line. It's definitely on my list of cards to snap up when Strixhaven is at peak supply.
Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter if you haven't done so yet! Not only do you get my trends pieces emailed directly to your inbox for free, but you gain exclusive access to all of my articles two full days before anybody else. It's a win/win/win!
This week, my newsletter covered the surge in card grading that has led to PSA temporarily suspending all submissions. Then we're going to look at some pretty significant price spikes, including one of the highest-profile land cycles in the entire game. Should you be… buying fetchlands!? If you don't want to miss my next newsletter, sign up now.