Return to Ravnica is an obviously powerful set. Even though a few of the guild mechanics were hard to evaluate at first, most of the cards are relatively simple. Dreadbore and Detention Sphere kill stuff. Carnival Hellsteed and Archon of Justice are big dudes with swingy Limited abilities. The shocklands are, well, the shocklands.
As we started playing Return to Ravnica, there weren't all that many surprises. Sphinx's Revelation and Deathrite Shaman, two of the more difficult to evaluate cards, turned out to be better than we had thought. Most of the other situational and high upside cards tanked in Constructed. The populate deck never took off. Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius and Rakdos, Lord of Riots never spawned archetypes. Lotleth Troll mostly stayed on the sidelines. Almost none of the cards that showcased the guild mechanics—detain, populate, overload, unleash, and scavenge—have appeared on the top tournament tables.
Gatecrash is not an obviously powerful set. Most of the public reaction, at least from the passionate players I follow on Twitter, has been negative. The shocklands aren't really that exciting now—we've been opening them for months, after all—and the guild mechanics are far more situational. Extort is obviously pretty good, but the jury is still very much out on evolve, bloodrush, cipher, and battalion.
How big will your Simic creatures really get? Is it worth sacrificing an on-curve casting cost for the versatility of having access to an additional pump spell? How hard is it to always have a creature around that will deal combat damage and survive for multiple turns? How hard is it to consistently have three attacking creatures in a single turn? Populate had to answer a few of these questions, but by and large the Gatecrash mechanics are far more out there and innovative.
Gatecrash also lacks a lot of obvious staples. There's no Supreme Verdict, Detention Sphere, Dreadbore tier of cards here—this set will sink or swim on the strength of a lot of really unique effects. Because of that, I think there is a lot of room to profit.
This is especially true when it comes to evaluating the lower end rares. Unlike in Return to Ravnica, a set with a lot of obviously bulk cards, there aren't very many spells here that I would completely dismiss. It is likely most of the cards that I "like" in this review will end up being so much dross, but I do expect that a few of them will hit big and we will realize later that we had completely misevaluated an entire class of cards. This is the mindset I am coming to with my review, so be forewarned—I will be giving an optimistic assessment of a lot of cards that have already been dismissed by most of the community.
With so little excitement for so many rares, all of the set's hype is being directed at the handful of mythics that will obviously be pretty good. Just as a reminder, when I wrote my Return to Ravnica set review, eight mythic rares were selling for at least $10: Jace, Architect of Thought, Vraska the Unseen, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, Rakdos's Return, Armada Wurm, Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius, Trostani, Selesnya's Voice, and Angel of Serenity Today, there are just three $10+ mythics: Jace, Angel of Serenity, and Sphinx's Revelation.
I'm not just including this bit of data as a cautionary tale about preordering cards. I also want to remind you that Return to Ravnica is at its lowest value until the pre-rotation blues of summer 2014. While a few more packs will be opened this spring, a good 75% of all of the Return to Ravnica packs that will be cracked have already been ripped open. I highly recommend picking up Abrupt Decay, Dreadbore, Detention Sphere, Supreme Verdict, Armada Wurm, Rakdos's Return, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius, Trostani, Selesnya's Voice, Lotleth Troll, and all five shocklands in trade at FNM. All of these cards have significant tournament or casual upside—especially once Innistrad block rotates—and all of them contain virtually no risk of dropping much further.
Remember that Gatecrash cards are still oozing with potential while Return to Ravnica cards have become an old hat. Taking advantage of this disparity during the first week or two of release is your easiest chance all year to make money while making simple, fair trades. During this period, I am always happy to swap a new card for an old one if the deal is right, even if it's a spell I'm very high on.
Let's get to the cards, shall we?
In case you haven't noticed, Wizards has done a pretty good job of balancing planeswalkers recently. They are no longer the defining nonland permanent of any given format, and it's rare that decks run more than three or four of them anymore. The halcyon days of Jace, the Mind Sculptor are long gone.
I am not very bullish on Gideon. Too much has to go right for him to be good. He is pretty deadly in a massive board stall where you can ramp him up well past fifteen loyalty counters and use him post-ultimate, but I don't see that sort of game playing out much in today's Standard. Otherwise, he is much too situational and vulnerable. He's a possible sideboard option in U/W and a fun casual card, but that won't justify the price tag. Sell.
Aurelia's Fury - $30
This is a nice card, and it will see play. What it won't do is keep a $30 retail price. I'm not convinced that the deck that wants to run this card needs four of them, and the two-color mana cost is rather prohibitive. Sphinx's Revelation is a tier 1 staple and is just $22. Bonfire of the Damned is a better card, requires just red mana, and is from an underdrafted set. That card is $30. Aurelia's Fury will have to be the defining card of the set to justify its price, and I don't see it. Sell.
Domri Rade - $25
This is another underwhelming planeswalker. In a perfectly tuned deck, the +1 draws you half a card. The -2 acts as a Prey Upon. The -7 is good but takes five turns with no disruption to work, and even then it doesn't guarantee you a win. Not only is this card not very versatile, but it feels too slow—Gruul doesn't really want to sit around drawing half a card on turn 3, ramping toward what might be an Overrun if you're lucky.
I do like that this card only costs three mana to play, though. The other three three-mana planeswalkers—Ajani, Caller of the Pride, Liliana of the Veil, and Jace Beleren—have all been at least moderately playable. Unfortunately, I think that Domri Rade is likely the worst of the four, and it's the also the hardest to actually cast on turn 3. Sell.
Obzedat, Ghost Council - $25
We've finally reached a mythic rare I like. Obzedat is almost impossible to kill—there are only a tiny handful of cards in Standard that do it, and most of them are awful against everything else in the format. He acts as an immediate four-point life swing, threatens to do his thing every single turn, is Wrath-proof, and can even beat in for five if he needs to. His mana cost might hold him back a bit, but if there is a tier 1 Orzhov deck, I suspect that Obzedat will be right in the middle of it. It's just too bad that you can't get multiples of these going at the same time.
That said, $25 is a lot. Angel of Serenity is a comparable card, and she's down to $15. I would monitor this one closely—if it doesn't take off quickly, get out soon. Hold / Soft Sell.
Duskmantle Seer - $20
Comparing this card to Dark Confidant is incorrect, and I suspect that it is being underrated because of that. PV did an excellent write-up of this card, comparing it more accurately to Sulfuric Vortex. Essentially, it works as the top end of an aggressive tempo deck where giving your opponent card advantage is close to irrelevant. If we end up in a format defined by cards like Prime Speaker Zegana and Obzedat, Ghost Council, hitting your opponent in the air for four while doming them for five or six is a pretty big game. I also wouldn't be surprised if some of the aggressive R/B decks switch to Grixis mana bases for this card alone. Hold.
Prime Speaker Zegana - $15
Prime Speaker Zegana feels like the strongest mythic in the set to me. She is certainly the mythic rare best positioned to make an impact right now, playing very nicely with Restoration Angel, Thragtusk, and the other Bant cards wreaking havoc in Standard. Much like with Obzedat, the mana cost is an issue, but now that we have all ten shocklands it should be easier to make cards like this work. She will also be fairly popular with the casual crowd, keeping the price reasonably high. I wouldn't recommend investing at $15, but if this is the kind of card you like to play with, picking up a personal set seems like a reasonable investment. Hold / Soft Buy.
Aurelia, the Warleader - $15
Aurelia is kind of a beating, right? If you're ahead at all, she comes down on turn 6 and immediately swings for six while giving you a second combat phase for the rest of your team as well. If your opponent is already staggering thanks to a few punches from a Hellrider or a Thundermaw, this gal should seal the deal. Even if you don't have massive forces already assembled, she's kind of a beating on her own.
Relentless Assault normally costs four mana. Granted, it's not a very good card at four, but paying just two additional white mana to also get a 3/4 vigilant Angel with haste seems kind of insane. Oh, and the effect is also repeatable. This might be the best card in the set that no one is talking about.
Of course, how many copies of this prohibitive six-drop do you need? In many ways, Aurelia has the same problem that her Fury does. I like the card a lot, but I don't think her ceiling is high enough to recommend an investment. Casual and Constructed play should keep her from falling too far, though. Hold.
Lazav, Dimir Mastermind - $10
We've finally reached the price range for mythics that might be worth a speculation flier, but Lazav isn't worth it. He's the cheapest of the Gatecrash guild leaders to play, but the double-colored mana is the hardest part of that cost to pay anyway. 3/3 isn't very big, he doesn't do anything when he hits the battlefield, and he requires something else to happen before he becomes more than just a Rubbleback Rhino. I love him for casual play and expect that will keep him in the $5 range, but I don't see him doing much beyond that. Sell.
Master Biomancer - $10
This is an amazing card and is my personal favorite in the set. Getting a couple of these going at once is just nuts, and he plays very well with Prime Speaker Zegana and the rest of the Simic Combine. Unfortunately, I suspect he won't see much Standard play except toward the more casual end of the spectrum, and because of that I can't recommend a buy. I do think this is likely the mythic in the set with the most potential room to grow, though. If someone figures out how to break it, look out. Monitor this one very closely. Hold.
Deathpact Angel - $6
This angel's graveyard shenanigans are just too slow and expensive for what basically amounts to a 5/5 Phoenix. I can't see this one making much of an impact anywhere. Sell.
Borborygmos Enraged - $6
This is the high risk/high reward mythic of the set. Let's be honest, after ramping to eight mana, you likely won't have any more lands in your hand to throw at Borborygmos. In Eternal formats, there are easier, more seismic ways of doing the same thing, and in Standard this is probably too slow to play fair with. I suppose it's possible that Borborygmos could be a finisher in some sort of Reanimator deck, combining Mulch and Unburial Rites with this guy as a way to finish off your opponent with one hit and a couple of activations.
This card also combos well with Enter the Infinite and/or Sphinx of the Chimes for whatever that's worth. I would not buy this card at $6—if he falls, he's heading straight towards bulk—but this is one of the only cards in the set with the potential to triple in price. Monitor this mythic closely. Hold.
Enter the Infinite - $3
I love the art on this card so much that I desperately want to find a use for it. The problem is that it's basically useless in casual play because it either wins you the game on the spot or loses it for you because you'll deck yourself in two turns. It might see play in like one Legacy deck, but supply will vastly outstrip demand. Bulk Mythic.
Giant Adephage - $3
Trample makes this reasonably intriguing, I suppose. If you can sneak one out somehow, you can just keep doubling the number of Adephages you have until your opponent is overwhelmed. Seven mana is a lot, though, and this card absolutely requires something else to be good. It's also a bit boring for casual play and is outclassed by plenty of other green fatties. Bulk Mythic.
Lord of the Void - $3
This will see some Commander play, but it is a little too slow and random to be all that popular. Most Commander decks aren't heavy in black, either, and it competes with a lot of better high end Demons in that format. If it did its thing when it came into play, we might have something. Bulk Mythic.
Hellkite Tyrant - $2.50
This big weird Dragon is the cheapest mythic in the entire set, and I still don't see why. I wrote about this card a few weeks ago, and I still stand by my claim that this is one of the best Commander cards in the set. Stealing all of an opponent's artifacts is a huge game, and in most multiplayer Commander battles, this will get three or four artifacts in a go if it can connect. I bought a set of these and have a deck for each one already. I doubt this card will go up in price all that much or all that soon, but it's far from unplayable. I'll be socking away a bunch of these while people are still treating them as an unplayable card. Long-Term Buy.
Shocklands - $15
I don't think the price tags on these will deviate much from the shocklands in Return to Ravnica. I do expect fewer Gatecrash packs will be opened long term, though, so the ceiling on these five is slightly higher. Regardless, these lands will bounce around from $10-$20 for a few months before settling in the $10 range. You can sell at $15 and buy back at $10 if you want, just as long as you remember that they're heading back to $20 in the long term. So what does that make this, a sell, hold, or buy? Short Term Sell, Medium Term Hold, Long Term Buy.
Frontline Medic - $6
Frontline Medic is a bit of a clunker to look at, but it's still a very fine card. It's easy to cast, has a decent body, and sports two reasonably relevant abilities. The quality of this card will basically come down to how reasonable it is to activate battalion. The indestructability isn't much of a trick since your opponent can still kill this or any other creature pre-combat, but it does pretty much guarantee victory in the battle itself. Casual players dig indestructability in a major way, so I don't see this card falling below the $3-$4 range even if it doesn't see Constructed play. It likely will, though. Hold.
Thespian's Stage - $6
I think it is hard to overstate just how much better this land is than Vesuva in Commander, though. Not only doesn't it come into play tapped, but it is far more versatile. Color issues? Turn it into a Command Tower. Scared of attackers? It becomes a Maze of Ith. Need to ramp? Make it a Karoo. Draw too many cards in a turn? Reliquary Tower does the trick. In multiplayer, it's very likely that at least one of each of these cards is in play somewhere by turn 6 or so. I don't really see this card impacting Standard, but it could start to crop up in some Eternal formats where there are very powerful lands. This should drop down a bit from $6 as tournament players trade these away, but should hit $10 over the long term. Short Term Sell, Long Term Buy.
High Priest of Penance - $6
I don't love cards that require my opponent to do something specific in order for me to extract value from them. That said, "If you attack on the ground, I get to destroy a nonland permanent" is pretty good as far as these things go. If there is an Obzedat deck, and I suspect there will be, this is a pretty decent turn 2 play for it. I could see the price sticking around the $6 range if this card wasn't seeing print in a pre-con, but it is. I suspect it will end up more in the $3-$4 range. Sell.
Blind Obedience - $5
When I asked my Twitter followers what they felt was the most underrated card in the entire set, Blind Obedience won by a wide margin. This isn't quite Kismet—lands coming into play tapped was always the most backbreaking part of that card—but this is a very potent tool against a lot of what makes Standard tick right now. Life gain has never been better, and abusing this card in an Esper shell with Azorius Charm and Unsummon seems like the real deal. It's also very good against Hellrider, Thundermaw Hellkite, and Aurelia. It is neat in Commander, too. I could see this creeping up into the $7-$8 range pretty easily. Hold / Soft Buy.
Clan Defiance - $5
Geez, Branching Bolt sure grew up fast, didn't it? This spell will almost always be a two-for-one, and it will three-for-one an interesting amount of the time as well, especially against decks with ground fat and Restoration Angels. Clan Defiance's real problem is that it isn't as good as either Aurelia's Fury or Bonfire of the Damned, and I just don't see players needing any additional X-spells. I see this heading toward bulk.
That said, if this card is actually good, you should probably pick up a set of Frontline Medics. Sell.
Firemane Avenger - $5
If this card Lightning Helixed when it came into play (or, like Aurelia, had haste), I think we'd have a tier 1 Standard staple. The fact that it needs battalion in order to stay above the curve means that you had better already be winning the game. Perhaps a card like Lingering Souls will be enough to insure that the battalion decks can fight through Wrath after Wrath, but in the past these sorts of situational mechanics have proven weak in Constructed. This card is also making an appearance in a pre-con, which is always good for a $1-$2 hit in value. Sell.
Boros Reckoner - $4
This card is sweet. While it can be Wrathed away, Ultimate Price doesn't kill it, and burning it out is going to hurt. Beyond that, it's always going to at least gain you a little value in combat, and the first strike means that it's going to win more struggles than it loses. This is a decently high impact card at every point in the game. It is also easier to cast than one might think and can play equally well in mono-red and R/W decks. I could easily see this being one of the higher value rares in the set. Buy.
Legion Loyalist - $4
Legion Loyalist doesn't seem like an outstanding turn 1 play for a battalion deck. A 1/1 is going to be outclassed quickly, and first strike and trample isn't going to matter much during the first few turns of the game. Your early guys are going to get their damage in anyway or they'll all be removed. If this guy got a power bonus as well, we might have something.
The card shines later in the game when you can build a battalion out of nowhere and the abilities should be more relevant. Is that enough to guarantee the littlest Goblin a place in Constructed? I don't know, but I don't think so. Even if this sees a small amount of play, it should drop toward $2. Sell.
Mind Grind - $4
Will a Dimir mill deck exist in Standard? It's possible, but most of the Dimir cards in Gatecrash encourage an evasive/tempo strategy that doesn't really give you enough time to sit around milling people out. I suppose this card could act as a finisher in a control deck, but what does this card do that Jace, Memory Adept and Increasing Confusion don't already? I see this as a similar spell to Increasing Confusion, and I expect it to end up in that same $2 area. Sell.
Spark Trooper - $4
If battalion is going to be a Constructed mechanic, it's going to be on the back of several strong haste creatures allowing you to go off a turn earlier than expected. If this only cost red, I could see it as Hellriders five through eight, and it would immediately become a format staple. Is it good enough at 1WWR? I honestly think it might be. This card gives you the consistency that Firemane Avenger lacks, albeit at the cost of long-term board presence. I feel as if W/R might be more of a "burst" deck now, especially with all of the Supreme Verdicts running around, and this will be a very scary card to face when you're trying to race. Hold.
Crypt Ghast - $3
Not only is Cabal Coffers one of the most popular casual cards, but it was the lynchpin of MBC in Standard. Crypt Ghast is much more vulnerable, of course, but the added utility of extort and a 2/2 body shouldn't be ignored. People played with Oracle of Mul Daya, right? With so many great multicolored spells running around, I don't think there's room for this in Standard right now, but it will hold casual value for years. This is a solid pickup at $3. Hold / Soft Buy.
Merciless Eviction - $3
This isn't quite as versatile or powerful as Austere Command, but the fact that it can take out planeswalkers is huge. I will be playing this card in Commander for sure, but being a six-drop in Orzhov colors will keep it from ever being worth more than a buck or two. The potential Obzedat deck might want a couple of these, but I can't see it becoming a true staple. Sell.
Rubblebelt Raiders - $3
So…this doesn't have haste? Or trample? I mean, I get that it attacks as at least a 4/4, but I think we're beyond the era where something like this would be good. Sell.
Sylvan Primordial - $3
I think a lot of people read "each opponent" and automatically assumed this is a casual-only card. They're probably right, but it's still worth noting this card's similarity to Woodfall Primus, a $12 card that has seen fringe play in Eternal formats. In Commander, I'd generally have the extra Forest(s) and the ability to take out multiple permanents in a multiplayer game than persist. This card is also one mana cheaper. This is easily the best Commander card in the set, and I like it to stay at or above $3 long term. Buy.
Interesting Sub-$3 Rares
The Rest of the Primordial Cycle
All five of these cards are instant Commander staples, and I was shocked to see the four non-Sylvan Primordials selling on here for between $0.50 and $1.00. These cards might never take down an FNM, but they're far better than the bulk rares they're being sold as. I will likely pick up a couple dozen of each as throw-ins over the next season if they stay this low and hold on to them for a while. I expect they will trade solidly in the $2-$4 range after a while.
I have a strong suspicion that cipher is being completely overlooked and that several of these cards will actually end up seeing a ton of play.
I don't know if Stolen Identity is going to be one of them, but copying a creature is a very strong effect. Doing it twice (potentially) on the first turn and once again every turn after that is excellent. At the very least, this is a strong casual play. It is currently selling for just $1, and I like it as a buy at that price.
I think a lot of players read Undercity Plague as Smallpox, but it isn't—this isn't a symmetrical effect. Again, six mana is a lot, but a well-timed Plague could certainly lock an opponent out of the game for good.
Quite possibly the best of the bunch, Whispering Madness is the cheapest rare cipher spell. It can't take over a game in the same way that the others can, but it certainly allows you to draw through your deck at an absurd rate. There's a reason Windfall was banned in Legacy.
Overall, at a range of $0.50-$1.50, these three cards are worth taking a small flier on. Worst case, you're out the price of a large coffee. Best case, you've stumbled onto a cool new Standard deck a few weeks before everyone else.
The Bloodrush Rares
Much like with cipher, I think people are underestimating an ability they don't quite understand. One of the biggest problems that smash-face decks have is a lack of versatility. While a blue mage always has options, a red or green mage had better hope they draw all of their spells in the right order. Bloodrush helps that immensely, giving you a reasonable body when you need to advance the board and a reasonable pump spell when you need to finish the job. I suspect a few of these will see some play.
Are we so quick to dismiss six unblocked damage that we wouldn't even consider Wrecking Ogre? This card is just 50 cents right now, and it's actually pretty good. A 3/3 double striker can beat a Thragtusk and live to tell the tale, while the bloodrush ability can finish games in a hurry. I kind of like this guy as a deep sleeper.
A card like Skarrg Goliath is less likely to make an impact in Constructed. Eight mana is a lot. The bloodrush will win most games it is used, though, so there's a chance this sees some play. How far off is this from Craterhoof Behemoth really?
Want to take the situational nature of bloodrush to a whole new level? Rubblehulk lets you do just that. I'm pretty sure I'd rather have a Wrecking Ogre.
Other Cards of Note
Angelic Skirmisher – She's a six drop 4/4 flyer that doesn't do anything when she comes into play. I love Angels, but this gal is flying toward the bulk bin.
Alms Beast – Historically, the 6/6 for four with a drawback cycle hasn't worked out. Even still, 6/6 is pretty huge. It can beat in for a ton on an empty or tapped board, and it can still block and kill an opposing creature even if they gain life off the transaction. I wouldn't dismiss this one entirely, but I suspect it's a bulk rare in waiting.
Assemble the Legion – This card makes Soldiers cumulatively, so your legion will come together rather fast. Five is a lot of mana, though, so it's probably trapped in the realm of casual play. I'd peg this one just above bulk.
Biomass Mutation – This is a lovely little trick at instant speed. Once Dragon's Maze comes out, I know I'll be thrilled to open this in any sort of Selesnya/tokens based strategy. I don't know if it has any legs in Constructed, but it's certainly going on my short list of cards to monitor. Standard would be pretty fun if this was good. I just don't think it's all that likely.
Biovisionary – People will try to break this card. They might even succeed. I doubt that will raise the price too much beyond bulk, though—alternate-win cards are generally overprinted compared to the number of people who want to use them.
Consuming Aberration – This card is fairly comparable to Lord of Extinction, a $10 mythic from Alara Reborn. That card is in better colors for the ability and it counts your own graveyard, though. Of course, this guy has a milling ability attached, which is always good for a couple of casual dollars. This will never be a $10 card, but I have no doubt it can stick around in the $2 range over the long term. Pick them up as bulk when you can.
Fathom Mage – If Master Biomancer works out, Fathom Mage could see play as part of the package. Four mana is a lot, but if evolve is a little better than we think, I could see this making the cut. Monitor closely.
Five-Alarm Fire – In general, aggro decks can't afford to spend a turn playing this instead of advancing their board state. That's why a card like Fireblast is so good—you use at the very end to finish them off. I just don't see this one working out. Bulk rare.
Foundry Champion – This card lives or dies based on its "Flametongue Kavu" ability. If Standard ends up devolving into a pile of board stalls, I can see some combination of this and token generation (Assemble the Legion? Lingering Souls?) acting as a finisher. Otherwise, it feels like a pale imitation of a situational Inferno Titan. Bulk rare.
Glaring Spotlight – On the list of beloved casual play keywords, unblockable is pretty far up there. This card attempts, I suppose, to "fix" the problem of annoying hexproof guys by forcing your opponent to randomly lose to your stupid Spotlight instead. I expect people will play with this card, and it should stay in the $2-$5 range. It might even go higher in the long term. I'd pick these up.
Gruul Ragebeast – Seven mana is too much. Bulk rare.
Gyre Sage – This card is better in a casual deck where you want access to three or four mana by midgame instead of just ramping from one to three. Casual mages will love this card, and I suspect $1 is her floor. Pick these up when they go a bit lower.
Illusionist's Bracers – This is an incredible casual card, and I'll be picking up a foil playset or two while the price is low. I expect it to come down a little from $2 as people realize that it is too slow for competitive formats, but long term it should do quite well. Equipment has historically been subtly powerful, too, and this is a potential combo piece with the right creature. I would buy a few of these.
Immortal Servitude – This is an exceptionally powerful card. Most of the time, the effect is somewhat symmetrical, like Twilight's Call or Living Death / End. Patriarch's Bidding was situational. Cards like Reya, Dawnbringer and Debtors' Knell only give you one creature a turn. This one can potentially Reanimate your entire graveyard—and only your graveyard—all at once. The mana cost is a little prohibitive, but it's a huge trump in today's combat-centric Standard where every deck runs a healthy number of creatures. I am a buyer at the current price of $2, and I wouldn't be shocked if this is the sleeper rare of the set.
Mystic Genesis – Even if this sees some fringe Standard play, supply will outstrip demand, so this card will remain in the bulk rare range.
Nightveil Specter – I would like this card a lot if it made your opponent discard and you could play that spell, but the fact that it doesn't cost them a card really hurts. In most matchups I guess you can hope for lands, but usually it'll be an uncastable card. Bulk rare unless we're somehow sent back in time to when Specters were good in Standard.
Ogre Slumlord – I believe that there is an outside shot this will see some play. It triggers for all creatures that die, not just yours, which can get out of control rather quickly. Of course, I said the same thing about Harvester of Souls, which is still just $0.50—and is still probably a better card. I'm going to say this is a bulk rare, but I also bought a set of them since they can't go any lower.
Ooze Flux – Fantastic Johnny design. This will be a beloved card to those it was made for, but that won't stop it from being a $0.50 rare.
Realmwright – I can't altogether dismiss a one-mana creature with a powerful effect, but this card merely fixes mana and doesn't accelerate it. I see this card settling in as bulk.
Signal the Clans – I wish this had been a Simic card called Signal the Clams instead. As is, this card requires a heck of a toolbox to be good. I suppose you can wish for some combination of things that will be kind of unstoppable, but if you're just using this to find random finishers, you might as well just put more of those in your deck. Bulk rare.
Simic Manipulator –This card requires a lot of setup, and it is among the most frustrating topdecks one could imagine. Bulk rare.
Soul Ransom – The punisher mechanic is usually pretty lousy, but it's also pretty popular. Browbeat it still worth money. Vexing Devil is still worth money. Even Breaking Point is still worth money. This card looks pretty good, and I imagine it'll trade well because of that. I don't think I'd play with it myself, but chaining a few of these together seems pretty backbreaking. I'd pick a few of these up if they fall toward bulk.
Treasury Thrull – This is the Orzhov card I am most excited about in Commander. Treasury Thrull slots in nicely next to Sun Titan, and I'd expect he'll see lots of play in that format for a long time to come. Short term bulk rare, long term pickup.
Unexpected Results – I adore this card, and it's going in several of my casual decks. Unfortunately, it is just too unexpected to ever see much play beyond my kitchen table. Bulk rare.
Boros Charm is currently preselling for $2 and is the early favorite for best uncommon of the set. Selesnya Charm is still $1.50, and I expect Boros Charm to see just as much play. Skullcrack is at $1, and the play here is in foils—StarCityGames.com is already sold out at $6. If this card doesn't show up much in Standard, pick these foils up for Modern play when they drop a bit. Undercity Informer is the last "money" uncommon, and I expect it to drop significantly if (when) the Standard mill deck doesn't pan out. That'd be a good time to grab these as a long-term casual spec.
Other uncommons worth money in foil? The following are preselling for $3-$4: Dimir Charm, Duskmantle Guildmage, Experiment One, Ghor-Clan Rampager, Illness in the Ranks, Orzhov Charm, Rapid Hybridization, Simic Charm, Urban Evolution, and Vizkopa Guildmage. You'll likely have a chance to pick some of these up for next to nothing as casual players crack boxes on release day.
Speaking of Illness in the Ranks, there are rumors that this card is foreshadowing a Bitterblossom unbanning in Modern. This card still retails for $20, but if it's unbanned, it will spike to $40 for a few days as people freak out. I wouldn't invest in Bitterblossoms right now, but if you have some, I would hold on to them for a few months just to hedge your bets. They won't go much lower.
My favorite uncommon speculation target is Experiment One. I've heard rumblings that this is one of the best Constructed cards in the set from players I respect. The retail price is just $0.25, and it has a lot of room to grow.
More than any other set, Gatecrash seems built specifically for the Commander player. Unfortunately, that means that a lot of the value in these cards won't be realized for years to come. Mimic Vat is still $1.50. Nim Deathmantle is still $0.50. It takes years for random cards like Lich Lord of Unx to be worth $5. Most people get impatient or don't want their money tied up that long. Who knows if Commander will be popular or even around in five years? (Though if it isn't, I suspect a similar format favoring expensive spells will take its place.) Luckily, most of the better casual cards look like they'll settle in the sub-$1 range, making them painless cards to hoard for a while.
In terms of Standard play, it will be even more crucial than normal to pay attention to early tournament results. Return to Ravnica was a very static set, and I expect Gatecrash to be a very dynamic set. That means there are a lot of potential opportunities for profit as long as you are willing to move fast in both directions. In the words of a wise doctor, don't blink.
I am Simic. When it comes to playing Magic, the blue/green color combination appeals to my desire to have both the best creatures and the most versatile spells. I always feel like I'm somehow handicapped when I don't have access to Islands, but I still like ending games by throwing giant monsters at my opponents. From a philosophical standpoint, I feel as if the Simic represent humanity's best possible future. Our species has been in conflict with nature for far too long, and that divide threatens to become our ultimate downfall. By combining the best of advanced science with a respect and understanding of nature, we humans can transcend our evolutionarylimitationsand become trulywondrouscreatures.