Welcome back to my Strixhaven Financial Set Review! This week, I'll be covering the rest of the set, including its powerful planeswalkers and modal double-faced cards. If you missed either my review of the Mystical Archive, or the article where I covered the rest of Strixhaven (including the Elder Dragons and Command cycle), you can find both links below.
At any rate, my bird's eye-view of Strixhaven is still one of hesitance. You should wait to buy most cards from this set until it reaches peak supply, and I don't expect there to be the same kind of wild post-release price increase that we saw with Time Spiral Remastered. First, Strixhaven is slightly underpowered relative to recent releases. It's also going to sell incredibly well, and the existence of the Mystical Archive means that the value of each booster pack is going to be spread thinner than usual. That doesn't mean there aren't cards from Strixhaven that you should pick up ASAP—there are some incredibly good cards being underrated right now—but patience should pay off, if you can manage it.
To the cards!
If you untap with Professor Onyx in play in a game of Standard, you will probably win. That's the kind of upside I like to see from my six-mana mythic planeswalkers. Unfortunately, I don't know how likely that will ever be. Professor Onyx doesn't help to stabilize the board, so you need a way to maintain board position while also filling your deck with magecraft enablers. Some folks will try it out, but I don't expect this card to turn heads in any competitive format.
In Commander, Professor Onyx is a lot better. She's going to be a popular card in casual formats for quite some time, just like most of the other splashy Lilianas. You might be able to pick her up in the $6-$7 range if you're patient, but most likely she sticks around the $10-$15 range. Unless you hear about Onyx showing up in some unexpected new Standard brew, I'd be patient and snag this card when Strixhaven hits peak supply.
I'm not sure that Kasmina, Enigma Sage has a home in competitive Constructed right now, but she's still a three-mana planeswalker with a +2 ability. When cards like that are printed, you should pay close attention to them, even if they seem otherwise underpowered.
Kasmina, Enigma Sage does seem otherwise underpowered, but this is the kind of card that folks like to dream on, especially long-term. At some point, WotC will print a powerful planeswalker that really needs a cheap +2, and folks will buy out Kasmina in anticipation of some Magical Christmasland scenario where you can win the game in a turn or two by untapping with both cards on the battlefield. You're definitely going to want to have your copies before that happens, even if the combo is unlikely to actually work.
As for Commander, Kasmina, Enigma Sage is already good in Superfriends-style decks. If you've got a critical mass of planeswalkers, Kasmina is always going to make the cut. That should be good enough to keep her price in the $5-$6 range at least. This is definitely a card I'll be targeting at peak supply, because she only gets better with each new planeswalker printed.
WotC finally made an MDFC planeswalker, but I feel like they were so worried about creating an overpowered card that they undershot a bit. Their passive abilities are fantastic, but Rowan is fragile and Will is expensive to cast. Goblin Electromancer effects tend to be pretty good, and I wouldn't be completely surprised if there's a magecraft deck in Standard or Historic that wants access to this, but the odds of this card becoming a future format staple seem pretty low to me.
In Commander, I haven't seen anyone discussing Rowan, Scholar of Sparks at all. I'm sure it'll see a little bit of play, but the other two planeswalkers we've discussed so far are better in that format. That means that Rowan and Will could have a pretty low floor, perhaps in the $3-$4 range. I'm staying away.
Considering how expensive Swarmyard was before its Time Spiral Remastered reprint, I have to believe that there's a small but dedicated audience for cards like Blex, Vexing Pest. You really do need to be running some sort of vermin-related deck to care much about the Pest side, but there are folks out there who will want this card. Since it's a mythic, it might stick around in the $2-$3 range with a small amount of long-term potential.
The Search for Blex side reminds me too much of Moonlight Bargain for me to get excited about it. Granted, Search for Blex is cheaper and it has a creature side that you can cast when you don't have the life to spare, but nothing about this package screams "competitive staple" to me.
I can see a Standard ramp deck playing a copy or two of Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios if the format shakes out that way, but that's unlikely to make an impact on its price tag, even if it comes to pass. No—Jadzi is a Commander card, where it will slot nicely into Simic ramp decks that will use the Oracle of Arcavios to play out their entire deck and overwhelm the table.
The only thing that gives me pause with Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios is that it is currently the 15th-ranked Commander in Strixhaven on EDHREC, appearing after cards like Blex, Vexing Pest and Plargg, Dean of Chaos. People don't seem very excited about building around Jadzi, though I expect she'll show up as part of the 99 from time to time. Since her current retail price is almost $18, I'm staying far away. Unless someone builds a consistent combo deck around Jadzi somewhere, this is a $2 card that might eventually end up being worth $5-$6.
Both sides of Mila, Crafty Companion are excellent. Mila is a must-play in aggressive white decks, at least in environments where spot removal is plentiful. It's not bad in Superfriends-style decks either. Lukka is a powerful enabler for any sort of red-based reanimation strategy. Together, they provide you with solid value at pretty much any stage of the game.
As for Commander, my big worry is that Mila, Crafty Companion can only be played in Boros-based decks. As we discussed last week, that's not a very popular color combination, and it rarely lends itself to expensive cards. Things might be changing on that front, though, and this card has the power level to take off under the right circumstances, either due to competitive or casual play. Current retail is $9, and it's possible that this MDFC will end up in the $15 range at some point. This is one of the better cards in the set, full stop.
Extus, Oriq Overlord is currently the #1 new Commander on EDHREC, so don't sleep on this powerful MDFC. Remember: a lot of Commander decks want to sacrifice a bunch of creatures, so Awaken the Blood Avatar is a solid enabler as well as a way to control the board. Meanwhile, the Extus side is a solid mid-game value creature, especially in a deck like Mardu Aristocrats that's going to want to be looping a bunch of small creatures in order to control the board and manipulate life totals. This card isn't powerful enough to do much in Standard right now, but so many people are going to be building around this in Commander that it might actually cause a spike in the price of all Mardu Aristocrats staples. It also has some competitive potential once the next Innistrad set hits in the fall.
As for the value of Extus itself, I'd absolutely snag one of the premium versions early on. People are sleeping on just how popular a commander this is going to be, and people tend to like running extended art versions of their commanders when possible. The nicest version of Extus is currently pre-selling for right around $11, and that seems like a solid buy-in to me.
Mavinda, Students' Advocate is an incredibly cool card, and might be my favorite spell in the entire set from a flavor perspective, but I'm not sure it's actually all that good. By comparison, Feather, the Redeemed lets you play the same spells again and again, but Mavinda does not. You can only use their ability once per turn, and you exile your spell for good after you play it. That's just not going to let you build the same kind of threat profile as Feather. It might see some play, and I'd definitely run Mavinda in my Feather Commander deck, but this looks like a future bulk mythic to me.
Crackle with Power might be the best big red ramp payoff card in the game for multiplayer Commander. X really does need to be 3 or greater for Crackle with Power to truly impress, but that's not super hard to do in Commander, and the fact that you can fire it off early to kill a creature if you need to helps as well. It's a better multiplayer finisher than cards like Comet Storm, Banefire, and Fireball, though, so I wouldn't be shocked if it ends up holding more of a premium than you might think.
The only thing that makes me skeptical is that big red X spells rarely end up being worth all that much. For whatever reason, demand rarely pulls these cards out of the $2-$3 range. Because of that, I'll probably wait a bit before buying in. Long term, however, I wouldn't be surprised if Crackle with Power ends up being worth a surprising $8-$10.
Ecological Appreciation costs too much mana for competitive play. In Commander, however, it'll do some pretty solid work in the five to six mana range. The fact that you aren't going to get your first or second choice card will keep this from being a top tier tutor, but getting, say, the third and fourth-best two-drop in your deck is absolutely worth five mana and a card. This is the sort of spell that might drop to $2 before randomly being worth $5-$10 somewhere down the line. I'm going to pick up a few copies at peak supply just in case.
If there's a Lesson deck in Standard, it'll run a copy of Mascot Exhibition in the sideboard. Even that wouldn't pull this card out of the bulk mythic range, though. This card is unplayable outside of that specific scenario, and it should end up being worth less than a buck no matter what. The bulkiest of mythics.
Codie, Vociferous Codex is not a card that you can just stuff into your deck and hope to draw. If Codie isn't your commander, I can't imagine you want to play with it at all. For that reason, I expect normal, non-foil copies of Codie to hit bulk rare range pretty soon.
That said, Codie, Vociferous Codex is actually the #4 most popular new Strixhaven commander according to EDHREC. People do want to build around this bizarre little artifact creature. Because of this, I expect the foil borderless versions to end up holding their value pretty well. If you want this card, pick up that version.
Library of Alexandria is a hell of a card, but The Biblioplex is not in the same league despite the clear homage. Of course, comparing unfavorably to one of the best cards of all time doesn't mean that a card is bad. Control decks probably aren't going to run The Biblioplex, but I can absolutely see burn decks taking advantage. This card is a lot more like Ramunap Ruins than it looks, and Ramunap Ruins was good enough to be banned in Standard.
The Biblioplex is fine in Commander, providing you're only in one or two colors, but it's fairly replaceable in that format. If this card is going to be worth something, it'll probably be due to competitive play. Right now, the evidence isn't there yet. If it looks good in early testing, you should snag a few sets.
There are some niche uses for Hall of Oracles, and I'll definitely slot it into any deck I have that utilizes multiple persist creatures. Will that be enough to keep this out of the bulk bin? I doubt it.
The Snarl lands aren't completely new. We saw the allied-color versions way back in Shadows Over Innistrad, so we have a good sense of how powerful this cycle is. The answer is: not all that powerful. The Shadows lands saw Standard play back in their day, but they're outclassed a dozen different ways in Commander and they don't even see play in Pioneer, much less Modern. I can't imagine these five are any different. The ones that make the biggest Standard impact will be worth $4-$5, the others will be down in the $1-$2 range. Long term, they'll be more or less irrelevant.
I can imagine that Flamescroll Celebrant might see some play in aggressive red decks, mostly because a 2/1 for 1R with a firebreathing-style ability is solid on its own. Beyond that, this is a niche card that might show up from time to time depending on the metagame. Flamescroll Celebrant should also see play in some Commander decks, though it will be a niche card in that format too. Likely a future bulk rare, but there's $2-$3 upside if everything breaks right.
I can't wait to play Torrent Sculptor in Limited. Beyond that, I don't think this card is going to do much. I guess a Standard burn deck might want Flamethrower Sonata, but this is likely a future bulk rare.
Mirrorweave was a sweet card in its day, but that was an instant. Echoing Equation is a sorcery, and that is so much worse for an effect like this. The Augmenter Pugilist is also quite mediocre, doing very little before you hit eight(!) lands. I don't see it in Commander or Standard. Future bulk rare.
I suppose there's an off-chance that Modern Humans will want their own (much worse) Selfless Spirit? Yeah, I don't really see it either. The back half of this card is a neat thing to have access to for very little cost in the late game, though, so it's possible that some deck somewhere will find room for Selfless Glyphweaver, at least in Commander. I still doubt this card ends up being worth more than a buck, though.
The second ability on Pestilent Cauldron has the potential to get out of hand in a hurry, especially in Commander. Most dedicated mill decks don't run a ton of life gain, though, so you'd kind of have to build a whole new archetype around this card, and it doesn't have enough support yet. Pestilent Cauldron might end up being worth something down the road if this type of Golgari Mill takes off, but we're far from that point right now. Future bulk rare with $3-$4 upside way down the road.
Whenever I do my set reviews, I always look up the sales charts to see if anything interesting is going on. Fourty-nine times out of 50, the charts aren't worth posting. Every once in a while, though, you get one that looks like this:
That last column on the right indicates a strong increase in demand, despite a continuing decrease in price. One of those two things will likely give out, and my expectation is that the card will start ticking up at some point. Why? The only explanation I have right now is that people are excited about Plargg, Dean of Chaos in Commander, where the randomness is super fun. It's also possible that folks have found a way to make this card work in competitive Constructed, though. Either way, it might be worth snagging a copy.
There is a lot of text on Uvilda, Dean of Perfection and Nassari, Dean of Expression that basically boil down to "this card is underpowered." Neither card seems worth the mana or card slot investment, nor do they really lend themselves to brand new adventures in Commander deck building. Nassari seems fun at least, and I suspect it'll see minor play in Commander, but this is going to be a future bulk rare.
Much like the rest of these deans, both sides of this card seem fairly underpowered to me. Kianne, Dean of Substance will have their fans in the world of Commander, but it won't be enough to keep them out of the bulk bin.
Embrose, Dean of Shadow might see play in some sort of "+1/+1 counters matter" Commander deck, but that's about the extent of it with these two. Bulk rare with $1-$2 upside down the road.
Wow, both halves of Valentin, Dean of the Vein are quite good. My first instinct upon looking at Valentin was "wow, that's a lot of text for a one-mana card," and I wasn't disappointed the further in I went. Valentin isn't just a one mana card—it's a one mana Vampire. That matters a lot for tribal purposes, especially with a new Innistrad set around the corner. Its abilities are nothing to sneeze at either, especially since it can grow an army pretty fast under the right circumstances.
Meanwhile, Valentin, Dean of the Vein is an incredible finisher in a life gain deck. Commander-only, of course, and the fact that you need to be running black and green to play this card hurts, but I still expect it'll see play in Abzan Lifegain brews. At any rate, this card is worth snagging when it bottoms out around $1.50 or $2, because it'll likely spike to $6 or $7 once Innistrad spoilers begin in the fall.
If you squint hard enough, Illuminate History might start to look a little bit like a Wheel of Fortune. It isn't a Wheel of Fortune, though. It's more like a very expensive Faithless Looting without flashback. It might find some niche uses, but it'll be a future bulk rare.
Culling Ritual is a touch too expensive for competitive consideration, and I doubt it'll be good enough in 1v1 Commander, either. This is a multiplayer card through and through, where it can pick off a bunch of mana rocks while powering out one of your late-game bombs. Future bulk rare with $1-$2 long-term upside.
Callous Bloodmage is going to see play in some of the sideboard-free Arena formats, especially if the next Standard format is graveyard-centric. Other than that, I'm not sure I see it. Three mana is just a little too much for this in most competitive constructed formats, and Commander decks have plenty of more efficient options for graveyard removal. Future bulk rare with $2-$3 Standard upside.
I think folks are sleeping on Sedgemoor Witch. A 3/2 with menace is a reasonably formidable threat, the ward ability helps a lot if you can get your opponent down to a low life total quickly enough, and this magecraft ability can get out of control in a hurry. There's also been a massive spike in demand over the past day or so, which you can see on this chart:
See that big green bar on the right? That tells me that a lot of people really want this card right now, and the price is likely to increase from here. The power level is certainly there, so I get it. My recommendation is to snag a set ASAP. Worst case, you're out about $10 total. Best case, you've just picked up one of the set's new staple cards at its ground floor.
A repeatable Entomb is quite powerful, but Oriq Loremage is a four-mana 3/3 that doesn't do anything the turn it enters the battlefield. I can see slotting it into some of my Commander reanimator decks, but it's slow enough that it's not a must-play. Future bulk rare with $1-$2 upside way down the line. I'm not going to worry about it right now.
Tempted by the Oriq is a very powerful card that is currently being underrated. It reminds me of Threads of Disloyalty, which was a powerhouse Standard card in its day. 1UUU is a pretty restrictive mana cost, but I bet it'll see some play regardless. It's just way too easy to turn this into a backbreaking two-for-one.
Tempted by the Oriq is also a solid Commander card. There are loads of valuable utility creatures that this card can steal, and in multiplayer it can turn a game around. This card is currently selling for $1, but there's $5 upside long-term. I'll be picking up a few at peak supply.
The fact that Exponential Growth is a sorcery will keep it from seeing any competitive play, but I think this card will be beloved in certain Commander circles. You can make some pretty absurd plays with this card in a ramp deck, and there's a decent amount of excitement around it in the Commander subreddit. It should be readily available for less than a buck, but it has $1-$2 upside long-term.
I can think of some Commander decks where I might consider playing Fervent Mastery, especially in red-based decks where I'm trying to play things out of my graveyard. It's still expensive and narrow, though, so I wouldn't expect it to ever see too much demand. Future bulk rare.
Verdant Mastery is a mediocre ramp spell, but even mediocre ramp spells tend to hold a little bit of long-term value. I'm probably not running this in my Commander deck unless I want to play politics or turn on a landwalk effect, but those are both pretty legit reasons to run Verdant Mastery. My guess is that this card drops to bulk before eventually settling in the $1-$2 range.
This is my favorite member of the cycle. Not only is Baleful Mastery an instant, but it can exile a creature or planeswalker for just two mana in a pinch. The drawback is real, but so is the power level.
Baleful Mastery price tag is currently $3 and trending down, so I'm not sure I'd pick it up right now, but this is the kind of utility spell that can define the right format. At the very least, grab a set before the fall set rotation. It's likely to be a staple in some future iteration of Standard.
I don't want to pay three mana to let my opponent do a bunch of things at sorcery speed, and this card doesn't do much otherwise until you're paying six or seven mana overall. There are so many better, cheaper, more effective card draw spells in every format already. Future bulk rare.
I don't see Dream Strix seeing much play. The "Lesson" ability is rather weak, and Dream Strix doesn't do much on its own. Future bulk rare.
If people are going to make Lesson decks, Retriever Phoenix seems like it'll be a key part of that equation. You aren't going to want to play this card unless you can expect to recur it pretty often, though, so its applications are pretty limited. Future bulk rare with $2-$3 upside if red-based Lesson decks end up making the cut in Standard.
If you simply want to tutor up a Lesson, Poet's Quill is probably your best option. It doesn't do much on its own, but it'll get you whatever Lesson you want for just two mana. Will that be good in any format? I doubt it, but there's definitely some upside if we've all underestimated this mechanic.
A 5/4 with trample isn't bad for four mana, so I can see Gnarled Professor seeing play in a green beatdown deck with two or three Lesson cards in the sideboard as a bonus. That's not really where Standard is right now, but I can see this being a $2-$3 card if everything breaks right. Otherwise, this is a future bulk rare.
Basic Conjuration is a massively underpowered tutor. WotC has been incredibly conservative with all of their Lessons since you can fetch them from outside the game, and as a result I don't think any of them will ever command more than bulk rare prices. Basic Conjuration is far from the best of them, too.
Teachings of the Archaics doesn't do anything unless an opponent has more cards in hand than you, and even then, it doesn't do much unless they have way more cards than you. I can't imagine ever running this over more conventional card draw. Future bulk rare.
I don't love Confront the Past. The Lesson mechanic feels very Limited-focused, and neither of these two abilities are aggressively-costed, especially at sorcery speed. The versatility is okay, I suppose, but I can't imagine playing this in any Constructed format. Future bulk rare.
Academic Probation might see some play if there are Lesson toolboxes in Standard, but this is not a playable card outside of Limited otherwise. It's pretty well outclassed by Silence, which was not a Standard-playable card in its day. Best case, this is a bulk rare that you might have to search out before a tournament.
So…wait. For four mana, as a sorcery, you can wipe the board of non-Dragons…if you have an expensive instant or sorcery in your graveyard? Yeah, that's incredibly narrow. Some Dragon-based Commander decks will run Draconic Intervention, but we're looking at a future bulk rare.
Accomplished Alchemist is tailor-made for any green-based life gain deck. Elf and Druid life gain decks will use it for sure, but it also works perfectly with commanders like Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper and Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn. The price chart is currently plunging toward the sub-$1 range, but this is definitely a card with $3-$4 upside long-term. Grab some when Strixhaven reaches peak supply.
I haven't heard anyone talking about Archmage Emeritus, but drawing a card each time you cast a spell is pretty solid. Vedalken Archmage is the best comparison here, and that card is worth about $5. Archmage Emeritus is selling pretty well in the $1 mark, and I'm adding it to my list of long-term specs to pick up when the set hits peak supply. There's definite $3-$5 upside here.
Conspiracy Theorist is an incredibly powerful engine. The loot-on-attack isn't going to happen much since Conspiracy Theorist is a 2/2 that can't protect itself, but that second ability can enable some pretty wild shenanigans. It's pseudo-madness, and I have to believe that there's some bonkers combo in some Eternal format or in Commander.
Even if there isn't, Conspiracy Theorist is the kind of card that will inevitably be bought out during some future preview season. I'm not sure I'd pay the current pre-order price of nearly $4, but I'll be looking to snag a few sets in the $1 range as a long-term spec. The power level is there.
Dreadhorde Arcanist was an absurdly powerful card, so I don't want to dismiss Efreet Flamepainter out of hand. The fact that this card lets you play two spells out of your graveyard if you hit your opponent with double strike is pretty fantastic, too.
Is it enough to get around the fact that Efreet Flamepainter is a 1/4 for four mana? Probably not. It'll see a little bit of niche Commander play, and might eventually settle into the $1-$2 range, but it's just a touch too expensive to break out. Bummer.
I can't think of too many decks that want Dragonsguard Elite. It's okay if you play it early, but it's only good in a beatdown deck, and green already has several better two-drops in Standard. Commander decks want creatures that do more than just get big at a reasonably slow pace. Future bulk rare.
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This week's newsletter talked a bit about the recent spike in Sliver prices following Time Spiral Remastered and its high-profile Sliver Legion reprint. Then it takes a look at the three most interesting gainers of the week, including some interesting potential buyout spikes. Did you know that a bulk rare from Mirrodin finally started to spike this week, almost two decades after being printed? Subscribe so you don't miss my next insight into the world of Magic finance.