The Khans of Tarkir prerelease is over. It took you forever to get to sleep last night because you were going over the cards in your mind, dreaming up cool combos and clever interactions. You can't wait to draft. You can't wait to play Standard. After months of low attendance, you know that your LGS will be packed to the gills on Friday night, and you'll be set up with your binder at the table in the corner. You've got a plan to finish your play set of fetchlands before the end of October. You may even have opened a couple of them in your prize packs, making the job slightly easier. It's the fourth week of September, and Magic doesn't get any better than this.
That's why now is the best time…to re-visit Return to Ravnica? Why on earth would anyone want to go back to the land of oppressive Sphinx's Revelations? After one of the most boring Standard seasons in the history of the game, don't we all deserve a couple of peaceful weeks exploring Tarkir?
"Sell into hype" is one of the most time-honored rules of Magic finance, but "buy into boredom" is an equally important rule of thumb. Everyone is clamoring over Khans right now, which means that no one is focusing on the fact that cards in Return to Ravnica Block will never again be cheaper, supply will never again be higher, and demand will never again be lower.
At a certain point, perhaps as soon as the beginning of next year, Return to Ravnica Block's Modern staples will begin to spike. The casual all-stars will follow soon after, along with most playable foils. Deathrite Shamans and Worldspine Wurms alike will disappear from all the trade binders in your local store, and you'll be left wondering when Abrupt Decay jumped all the way up to $25.
Even if Return to Ravnica Block cards haven't reached their true nadir (the actual low might be a month or so away, if recent history bears itself out), now is still the best time to start trading for these rotating staples. Until the new Standard format settles itself out and the market floods with new cards, tournament players are going to have a ton of disparate needs from Khans. By November, Standard grinders will only want to trade for the six or seven top cards in the set. This week, however, you should be able to find someone interested in even the worst rare that you opened over the weekend. Novelty is a powerful tool, and you can use it to pry even the best Return to Ravnica rares out of binders without much resistance.
It's fine to prioritize fetchlands this week if you're dead serious about Standard, but if you're an Eternal player or you're simply after long-term value, I'd suggest trading your Polluted Deltas away for shocklands, Sphinx's Revelations, and Voices of Resurgence. The former will drop in value, at least a little. The latter cards will not.
If you prefer buying to trading, Return to Ravnica Block cards are also at historic lows here at Star City. Thanks to our Back to School sale, every card on in the block is discounted through the end of the month. Whichever acquisition method you use, I'd suggest trying to end the month of October with a playset of every Return to Ravnica Block card you expect to need for the foreseeable future.
Here's my shopping list, divided by format for your convenience:
Abrupt Decay - $11.69
I often fall into the trap of kicking myself for not buying into a hot card at the bottom of the market, lamenting my inaction as the price continues to rise. Yes, you should have bought Abrupt Decays when they were $6 each. You should have also bought in when they were $8 each. If you're a Legacy player and you still don't have a set of these, however, buying in at $12 will seem like a steal and a half by this time next year. Abrupt Decay is a future $25-$30 card.
Deathrite Shaman - $8.99
Deathrite Shaman lacks the short-term ceiling of Abrupt Decay because it is banned in Modern. Of course, that makes Deathrite Shaman a far less likely to be reprinted any time soon. I have a hard time believing that this card won't reach $20 regardless. Its power level is undeniable.
Supreme Verdict - $3.49
A Legacy-playable sweeper for just $3.50? Sign me up. Supreme Verdict is generally a sideboard one-of in this format, but it has Modern applications that should also help prop up the price, especially if we're not getting any more four-drop wraths.
Worldspine Wurm - $2.69
This giant beater is a casual favorite that shows up in the sideboard of Elves decks as well as in some Sneak Attack brews. Grab at least a singleton copy for the long haul.
Rest in Peace - $1.79
There isn't much financial upside in a sideboard card like Rest in Peace, but it should still double in price at some point over the next few years. Rest in Peace is one of the two or three best piece of graveyard hate ever printed, and it sees play in the sideboard of most Legacy decks that run white. Pay the seven-ish bucks and snag a set.
Detention Sphere - $1.34
Detention Sphere is a fringe playable Legacy card that has shown up in Deathblade, Stoneblade, Shardless Sultai, and Miracles lists over the past few months. For less than $1.50 a copy, it's worth investing in a set in case it begins to see more widespread play.
Thespian's Stage - $1.34
Yes, Thespian's Stage's value in Legacy is tied fairly tightly to Dark Depths, a much scarcer and more valuable card. Thespian's Stage is quite powerful in Commander as well, however, and Legacy-playable lands always seem to go up in price sooner or later. I have a few hundred of these socked away already.
Pithing Needle - $0.89
Pithing Needle has already been reprinted a ton, and I'd be shocked if it doesn't see print again soon, but for $0.89 each? Grab a set and rest easy.
Wear // Tear - $0.44
Wear // Tear shows up in every Magic format going all the way back to Vintage. It is still less than fifty cents. Yeah, I don't think it'll stay at that price forever, especially considering how putrid a set Dragon's Maze was.
In addition to the cards I've listed below, serious Modern players should grab a playset of each card on the Legacy list as well. Other than Deathrite Shaman (which may be unbanned at some point) they all see as much or more play in Modern.
Voice of Resurgence - $17.99
Voice of Resurgence hasn't dropped in price all that much because the card is all over Modern. Not only does it see significant play in most Pod builds, it's a lynchpin of nearly all the G/W and Abzan midrange decks. Voice is one of the most powerful two-drops ever printed, and it will always have a home somewhere in Modern. Its future is back up over $25 at least.
The Shocklands - $10.79 - $8.09
I doubt these lands will hit $40+ again, but I wouldn't be surprised if they settle back in the $15-$30 range. I'm not worried about the market being flooded; the fetchlands seemed to be ubiquitous and easy to trade for right after Zendikar rotated, after all, and we all know what happened to those. I've written about the long-term future of shocklands at length, multiple times, and I still believe that you should get your playset ASAP. They will go up in price. It's just a matter of when.
Domri Rade - $8.99
Domri Rade isn't super popular in Modern right now - Zoo is currently tier two, and most Pod decks don't run him. He does show up often enough for me to put him on this list though, and when he does appear in a winning deck list, it's usually as a two-of or three-of. When Zoo makes a comeback at some point - and it will -- I could see Domri Rade spiking hard. I'd grab a set now.
Sphinx's Revelation - $7.19
You knew Sphinx's Revelation would make the list, right? Any U/W-based control deck in Modern has to at least consider running this powerful piece of card advantage, and most of them do. It shows up in U/W Control, U/W Tron, U/W gifts, and most Jeskai brews. Most of the time, it's a main deck one-of or two-of, which is plenty enough play to create a demand spike at some point. Revelation is a future $15-$20 card at least.
Boros Reckoner - $3.14
It's hard to imagine Boros Reckoner dominating Modern at any point. After all, it wasn't even showing up all that much in Standard by the end of its run. Even still, the card does good work in certain burn and creature-based red decks. When it does pop up at the top tables, it does so as a four-of. At around $3 each then, Reckoner makes for a solid spec.
Boros Charm - $2.69
Not only does Boros Charm show up in Jeskai Delver, Burn, and Zoo lists, but it's a kitchen table and Commander favorite. It will surely show up in more supplemental products (it was in one of the Commander 2013 decks), but I could easily see it spiking to $7-$8 first. This card is one of my top pickups right now.
Pack Rat - $2.69
Anyone who has played against Pack Rat in any format knows the frustration it can present. I'm not sure how much Pack Ratting we'll see in Modern, but it's showed up in tournament winning lists already, often in a B/G shell but occasionally in an Abzan, Gifts, B/R, or even U/B package. I'd grab a few copies now for sure - we've underestimated this guy from the start, so it's certainly possible that his ubiquity isn't over yet.
Burning-Tree Emissary - $1.79
Burning-Tree Emissary is another card that is fairly exclusive to Zoo decks, but it's a worthy consideration in any aggressive red or green deck going forward. With the hybrid mana cost, reprinting this in a Commander set or Modern Masters could be difficult. It feels like a future $4-$5 uncommon to me.
Ash Zealot - $1.79
I'm not a huge fan of Ash Zealot in a vacuum, but the extra couple of damage it can do against Snapcaster Mage decks always makes it worth considering. It has seen enough main deck four-of play in the format already that I'm willing to give it the nod at under two bucks a copy.
Loxodon Smiter - $1.34
It's possible that Loxodon Smiter will have a brighter future in Modern than it ever did in Standard. Both of its abilities are more relevant here, and I expect it to be a solid metagame call that will depend how powerful G/W aggro/midrange are and how much discard or counter magic there is in the format. Cards that are situational can still spike though, and Smiter has proven itself in Modern already. I see a $4-$5 future here.
Experiment One - $1.34
Experiment One isn't a staple in any specific Modern aggro deck, but it shows up now and again in many different green-based brews. I wouldn't be surprised if it finds a permanent home in Modern at some point.
Skullcrack - $1.34
I expect Skullcrack to remain a solid sideboard card in burn decks at the very least. Powerful hate that also clocks your opponent isn't going out of style anytime soon. Grab a set while they're cheap.
Counterflux - $0.99
Counterflux is another card whose home is generally in the sideboard, but sweet looking counterspells often hold a value premium beyond their actual utility. Regardless, Counterflux is worth more than a buck going forward based on the amount of play it is already seeing.
Izzet Charm - $0.68
This unassuming charm shows up in many Scapeshift and Reanimator lists. It also shows up, at least occasionally, in Delver and Twin-based decks. With so much versatility and a promotion version already behind us, the future seems bright for Izzet Charm. This is a future $4-$5 card at least and another very high priority pickup for me. I wouldn't mind having a whole box of these for the future.
Ghor-Clan Rampager - $0.44
Ghor-Clan Rampagers are less than fifty cents each. They're still a four-of in many Modern Zoo decks.
Dryad Militant - $0.44
Remember how hyped we were for Dryad Militant when she was first spoiled? The reality was somewhat less than we all expected, but she still shows up in Mono-Green, Mono-White, and Zoo decks in Modern. Grab a set at less than fifty cents each.
Slaughter Games - $0.25
Nearly every deck in Modern that can run Slaughter Games has at least one in its sideboard. Some have two copies. And it's a twenty-five cent bulk rare!? This is the safest penny stock spec on this list by a massive amount.
Rakdos Charm - $0.23
Rakdos Charm might just be sideboard card, but it does a ton of work against many of the best decks in the format. I'm surprised this card doesn't see more play In Modern already, but even if it doesn't, it's a future $2-$3 card at least.
Commander and Casual Play
Multicolor sets are great for long-term casual speculation. Most Commander and kitchen table decks run multiple colors with lots of deliciously splashy effects, and these cards tend to have their value suppressed by tournament playables while the sets are still in print. Once their prices become untethered from the retail cost of sealed boxes, however, the sky is the limit. Check out some of the casual all-stars from Shards of Alara and Shadowmoor blocks to see this for yourself.
Unlike the Legacy and Modern cards, there's no need to go nuts buying full sets of the cards below. Just trade for what's easy to get and sock them away if you can. Casual cards are also very subjective, so you're likely to get a different list from someone with entirely different play preferences. I've tried to be as objective as possible here, but it's likely I've still missed a few juicy ones. At any rate, here's what I'm targeting, in order by current price:
- Chromatic Lantern - $4.49
- Aurelia, the Warleader - $4.49
- Master Biomancer - $3.59
- Cyclonic Rift - $3.14
- Consuming Aberration - $2.79
- Master of Cruelties - $2.69
- Progenitor Mimic - $2.69
- Trostani, Selesnya's Voice - $2.24
- Savageborn Hydra - $2.24
- Utvara Hellkite - $2.24
- Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord - $1.79
- Prime Speaker Zegana - $1.79
- Mind Grind - $1.79
- Vraska the Unseen - $1.69 (Duel Decks version)
- Epic Experiment - $1.34
- Armada Wurm - $1.34
- Deadbridge Chant - $1.34
- Crypt Ghast - $1.34
- Hellkite Tyrant - $1.34
- Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker - $0.89
- Varolz, the Scar-Striped - $0.89
- Duskmantle Guildmage - $0.44
- Collective Blessing - $0.25
- Merciless Eviction - $0.25
- Luminate Primordial - $0.25
- Diluvian Primordial - $0.25
- Sepulchral Primordial - $0.25
- Molten Primordial - $0.25
- Illusionist's Bracers - $0.25
- Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts - $0.25
- Obzedat's Aid - $0.25
- Vorel of the Hull Clade - $0.25
- Plasm Capture - $0.25
This Week's Trends
- In very early trading, the two planeswalkers, Crackling Doom, and Rattleclaw Mystic appear to be the biggest gainers in Khans of Tarkir. Clever Impersonator and Surrak Dragonclaw are on their way down. It's like people read my set review or something (part onehere and part two here)!
- Other Standard cards still rising: Kiora, the Crashing Wave, Mana Confluence, Sylvan Caryatid, Goblin Rabblemaster, Polukranos, World Eater, Nylea, God of the Hunt, and Hero's Downfall. None of those should come as a surprise to regular readers of this column.
- Also rising fast: the enemy painlands. If you still don't have your sets of these, the window to pick them up at a reasonable price is closing quickly.
- Modern as an index is still flat to down slightly. Everyone is ignoring the format thanks to Khans excitement. That won't happen forever, especially once people realize how impactful the new fetchlands will be. Expect an article soon about solid Modern pickups.
- The more I read about Treasure Cruise, the more it appears to be the real deal in Legacy. Even still, the foil is out of stock at $10, which is nuts for a common. Delver of Secrets was only a $5 foil when it was still in print. Hold off on these for now, the price will come down a bit.
- I'll be writing and publishing a mailbag article next week! Hit me up with questions in the comments, on Twitter @ChasAndres, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want me to answer your question.