Magic: The Gathering's newest Standard set, Strixhaven: School of Mages, officially releases in paper form on April 23rd, 2021. Strixhaven contains 275 cards in the main set, 63 Mystic Archive cards, and three new mechanics—Lessons, Magecraft, and Ward.
Among the new mechanics, magecraft seems to be the frontrunner in power level and popularity. It's an ability that triggers when you cast or copy an instant or sorcery. The introduction of an ability triggered by copying spells opens new opportunities for deck building. One sorcery card magecraft took from bulk to around $15 overnight is Chain of Smog.
The chart for Chain of Smog shows sales volume by date across the bottom, and the average selling price represented by the blue line. Why did Chain of Smog spike so dramatically? Surprisingly, Chain of Smog is a Sorcery that possesses a synergistic copy ability with magecraft.
Chain of Smog makes the target player discard two cards, and then the target player may copy the spell and choose a new target. Since a player with an empty hand is a legal target for discarding, Chain of Smog can be copied an infinite amount of times as long as it targets yourself. A card with unlimited copying plays very well with Professor Onyx, a new Strixhaven Planeswalker.
The brand new Liliana, I mean Professor Onyx, features the magecraft ability. Since Professor Onyx drains two life from opponents each time you cast or copy an instant or sorcery, she'll eliminate all opponents by playing Chain of Smog. This two-card combo fits well in black Commander decks, particularly ones that are mono-black. Interestingly, Professor Onyx is not the only card from Strixhaven that creates a two-card combo with Chain of Smog.
Witherbloom Apprentice is a green and black creature from Strixhaven that makes opponents lose one life each time its magecraft ability gets triggered. Chain of Smog works the same way with Witherbloom Apprentice as it does with Professor Onyx. As a two-mana creature, Witherbloom Apprentice is considerably cheaper to cast than Professor Onyx. There are already rumblings about how Witherbloom Apprentice and Chain of Smog may become a mainstay in Legacy and Commander.
Just over a year ago, Theros: Beyond Death created new two-card combos with Thassa's Oracle. Players adopted the combos containing Thassa's Oracle with Demonic Consultation or Tainted Pact into blue and black Commander decks. Any players running Sultai (black/green/blue) Commander decks can include multiple game-ending two-card combos. Only time will tell how the Commander format changes with the inclusion of magecraft.
Speaking of two-card combos, Strixhaven created a new interaction with Kykar, Wind's Fury and Elemental Expressionist. Kykar, Wind's Fury average selling price almost doubled from $3 to over $5 thanks to Strixhaven. With Kykar, Wind's Fury, and Elemental Expressionist on the battlefield, any time an instant or sorcery is cast, you create a 1/1 Spirit creature token with flying. Sacrificing the Spirit creature token produces one red mana and a 4/4 blue and red Elemental creature token. The value gained from Kykar, Wind's Fury and Elemental Expressionist is likely worth exploring in Standard, Pioneer, or Commander.
A Strixhaven card that may make a splash across MTG formats is Dragon's Approach. For three mana, Dragon's Approach deals three damage to each opponent. Exiling Dragon's Approach, along with four additional copies in the graveyard, you can search your deck for a Dragon creature card and put it on the battlefield. Lastly, a deck can have any number of cards named Dragon's Approach.
Cards that say, "A deck can have any number of cards named X," have proven to be popular with players. The last two cards that could include any number of copies in decks were Persistent Petitioners and Rat Colony.
Anyone looking to purchase multiple copies of Persistent Petitioners and Rat Colony should expect to pay over $1 each. It's mind-boggling to think a common could hold such value over time. I'd expect Dragon's Approach to maintain a price premium and fetch an even higher price than Persistent Petitioners or Rat Colony, given how Dragon's Approach interacts with a few Modern-legal cards.
Thrumming Stone is an ideal artifact to play in a deck with Dragon's Approach. It appears other players agree based on the recent spike of sales units and the average selling price. Each time you cast a Dragon's Approach with Thrumming Stone in play, you can cast any additional copies of Dragon's Approach among the top four cards of your library without paying their mana costs.
Thrumming Stone ripple effect speeds up the clock to damage opponents and searches for a Dragon creature card. Hellkite Igniter, Bogardan Hellkite, Knollspine Dragon, and Thundermaw Hellkite are all fine Dragons to bring into play with Dragon's Approach. The combination of Thrumming Stone and Dragon's Approach could be formidable, particularly in Commander.
Thrumming Stone was not the only artifact to spike in price thanks to Dragon's Approach. Spellweaver Helix average selling price jumped from under $1 to $2.50 after Dragon's Approach got spoiled. For Spellweaver Helix to work well, you'll need to imprint two copies of Dragon's Approach in the graveyard, which may sound counterintuitive, but Spellweaver Helix will copy each subsequent Dragon's Approach you cast. As a three-mana artifact, Spellweaver Helix may find a future home in a deck featuring Dragon's Approach.
I predict a few of the price spikes will hold, or see only minor price reductions. Chain of Smog is from an old set and part of an unusual five-card cycle. Thrumming Stone possesses an ability unique to a six-card cycle from Coldsnap. Due to Chain of Smog and Thrumming Stone unique nature, Wizards of the Coast may have difficulty reprinting them in future sets or products. Continued playtesting and performance results will prove whether card price spikes hold long-term.