As new sets rotate into our card-playing lives, other cards begin to fade from memory. That's the cycle of Magic. As these cards drop from the collective consciousness of players, their demand drops, and thus, their price can as well. This combination of a strong amount of cards on the market with a lowered demand creates a nice market for those looking to pick up some really useful cards.
A lot of times you'll find quality cards for casual decks in Standard. Supply is high because they are actively being opened at stores and drafts. If it's not one of the highly demanded cards for the metagame, you can find a lot of current, in-print hotness for your next Commander deck without paying a lot. Checking out in-print sets for great deals is a perfect way to stock up your collection and card base.
I've been looking to target a few cards here and there to help grow my deck stock. In particular, I'm pushing to acquire those tools that can be used in a variety of decks. These are the sort of cards that won't be in deck stock for long; they'll get tossed into decks sooner rather than later.
If you are looking to build your collection, trying to find cards for that next Commander deck, or just want to acquire a few cards for the needed upgrade, here are some tools that you can target on the cheap.
Nissa's Expedition - If you take a look at classic common/uncommon green ramp spells, you'll note that they tend to cost a bit of money after being released for a short while. Nissa's Expedition, with its convoke potential of a cheaper cost while ramping two lands into play, is a great way to pick up a ramping spell for a really small cost.
Peregrination - Similarly, Peregrination is a Cultivate that costs one more mana but adds scry onto the spell to give you a bit of card quality. Green often doesn't get a lot of filtering abilities like scry, so it's a decent enough addition to your deck, and it doesn't cost you as much as a lot of alternatives.
Act on Impulse - Red doesn't get a lot of pure card-drawing fun. Act on Impulse has been added to red, and we'll probably see more cards in the future that fit this genre of "drawing" cards. Until then, this is one of the few cards to target and toss in your red decks in order to add some raw card "drawing" potential.
Restock - There was a time when Restock was a really good rare as a way to bring back your two best cards from your graveyard. Today, it's a good uncommon that can play a useful role in your decks but costs you very little to acquire. Grab a couple and remind yourself about how good Restock can be.
Silence the Believers - Do you remember when people thought that this card was going to be the removal spell for the new Standard? Well, its price just dropped since it remained just a tad too slow for stuff. But at the casual table, that speed is still really good - it's a four mana exiling instant removal spell. The instant status gives it the ability to respond to any situation. Plus, you exile the creature, which is a double bonus because you can end anything this side of a god if you can target it. Do you have some extra mana sitting around? Might as well strive this thing and kill/exile some more stuff, right?
Consign to Dust - Speaking of cheap instant, striving removal, check out Consign to Dust. In a green deck with its normal ramping love, you can easily find a home for this card, which scales well to take out more targets later in the game.
Return to the Earth - I know it's in Fate Reforged and just a common, but I love the potential flexibility this card has, being able to drop anything a Naturalize or a Plummet can. Green is getting closer and closer to an instant Desert Twister.
Destructive Revelry - Take a look at a similar card, like Smash to Smithereens. There are a lot of decks that prefer that variant of the Shatter effect to other options (like Shattering Pulse). Sure, it's in two colors, I hear you. But the card is a better class of card than something else, like Naturalize or Shatter. If you want the flexibility of taking out, at instant speed, an artifact or an enchantment in Gruul colors, then this is a really useful choice, since you carve off some damage as well.
Dakra Mystic - It hits the sweet spot of a lot of casual decks. For example, it's a useful one-drop for a color that often doesn't have any. It's a merfolk for your fish decks, and a wizard for your wizard decks. Its ability is an interesting take on a Howling Mine, and it can self-mill, if you prefer, once you've seen what folks might draw. It's an extremely flexible card that fits a lot of packages, and it's a great tool for a variety of archetypes.
Kiora's Follower - By now, we've all gotten a chance to see how flexible the Followers of Kiora can be. If all you do is untap a land that made them, you get a +1 mana acceleration and a 2/2 body for just two mana. In a Commander deck, you can untap a Sol Ring or a Gilded Lotus to make a lot more mana almost accidentally. Then start looking at untapping stuff that actually does important things. Wanna redo that Arcanis the Omnipotent? Arcum Daggson? Birthing Pod? Vorel of the Hull Clade? Vedalken Shackles? Maze of Ith? It gets amazing so quickly, and it's strong on-curve play as well.
Spear of Heliod - Glorious Anthems are always useful in a lot of decks. You can use them in token decks, aggressive decks, with a variety of color, and so forth. Getting one that can grant you an extra ability for the same price as a normal Glorious Anthem (three mana) is a strong deal, and the Spear has really tumbled in price since its debut in Theros, which seems a lifetime ago.
Generator Servant - This little common is a fun accelerant for your combos, big creatures, and commanders. It's a fun tool for Johnny to use to build around, Spike to speed up their threat, and Timmy to make big creatures fun again with a haste-y dork to smash face a turn earlier. Everybody wins with Generator Servant!
Sigiled Starfish - A cheap body like this 0/3 can drop and block some small stuff and participate in the red zone as a pertinent blocker. And when you want, just tap it to scry. It plays really well with stuff that cares about the top of your deck, like Sensei's Divining Top, Garruk's Horde, Sindbad, and Callous Deceiver. Outside of that, it still has a role to play as a generic way of achieving card quality over the course of the game while having a role in the blocking department.
Firedrinker Satyr - Jackal Pup has always been a great one-drop for red, and Firedrinker Satyr took it to the next level. Lots of folks like to get their aggro on in casual land (even in Commander!), and there's a nice home for cheap beater like this. You've seen other cards, like Vexing Devil, also get a lot of casual-oriented play from beatdown players.
Jeering Instigator - The Instigator has dropped to bulk rare prices despite being a great morph trick for a lot of decks. Because it adds to the density of morph creatures around, plays very well with manifest, and gives your deck a fun flip into a Threaten, it's something that often makes a real impact on the board without making one on the pocketbook.
There's another fun place to dig into to find some cheap in-print cards that are food for the multiplayer palate. Conspiracy stuff is still getting sold on the streets and has some serious goods in it for the right aficionado.
In addition to new cards, there were some reprints in Conspiracy that tumbled in value after getting another print run, such as Altar of Dementia, which had climbed considerably but is now in the range of a buck. Commander decks can use the new stuff too, so let's take a look at some of the new cards from Conspiracy that appeal to me.
Dack's Duplicate - It's a Clone of a creature but gains two abilities (haste and dethrone so it's a Clone plus). There've been a few recent Clone variants that have been pretty good, like Clever Impersonator's ability to duplicate anything, not just a critter. But the Duplicate gives you a strong cheap option for your Izzet decks. And you can't have too many Clones, right? Right!
Deal Broker - I discovered in my Commander Cube just how awesome and playable this colorless Looter can be. It's one of the highest drafted artifact creatures, not for the draft ability (which works), but simply to give you a 2/3 body with the loot ability on top of it for three colorless mana. It fits anything that wants looting (reanimation, graveyard chucking, combo, control) but doesn't run blue. It's an extremely good tool that a lot of people miss because they just see it as a draft-trigger card and not something a lot better. After playing with it, including in Constructed Commander, it's a lot better than you think.
Extract from Darkness - It combines mass milling with reanimation of any creature in any graveyard. You can Zombify back something that was milled, or if there wasn't anything intriguing that sold you, you can just get the best dead creature anyone already had in their 'yard. Because it does two things, it slides nicely alongside milling or reanimation strategies. Plus it's a good generic reanimation spell, because a lot of folks in Commander Land run anti-graveyard removal, such as Bojuka Bog, Nihil Spellbomb, and Suffer the Past. When people have neutered graveyards, this can still have value, because it mills everyone for a couple of cards, giving you options you would not have otherwise had.
Treasonous Ogre - This 2/3 for four mana brings a few fun things to the table. First of all, it has the useful dethrone ability to bring down the King of the Mountain. That's an interesting way to break the game open, since it grows as it performs this service. Meanwhile, the real quality here is paying life for mana. Yes, it's a bit pricey - three life for one red mana. I get that. But it works well with a lot of strategies, and Commander has a bit of a life bump, so you have more maneuverability to churn life into mana. There's some amazing and cheap lifegain spells as well. Imagine dropping Congregate, gaining just eighteen or twenty life, and then turning out a bunch of mana instead - it's like an instant Dark Ritual variant.
What about cheap reprints? Sure, there are cards we all need more of, like Swords to Plowshares or Fact or Fiction, rocking the set. But what else tweaks my acquire-dar?
Squirrel Nest - Of all of the reprints from Conspiracy, this one hits my sweet spot the most. Take a look under the cover and see if you agree. You can tap the enchanted land to create a lovely squirrel. That's basically a one mana commitment to a token creature turn after turn after turn. You can tap and block a ground pounder, make an army post-Wrath of God, it works well with stuff like token decks or as an enchantment-based way to make creatures in a Verduran Enchantress deck, and has an established tournament pedigree with cards like Earthcraft and Opposition. Shoot, even Kiora's Follower can push it to the next level. It's a fine card for a lot of decks!
Decimate - Let's see what Decimate does… It's four mana, and you destroy a creature? Land? Enchantment? Artifact? Dang that's a lot of carnage that's falling before your decimation! This card is a nasty four-for-one trade in most multiplayer games, where there's always useful targets to select. I've played it myself to single-handedly dial back a player in the lead by taking out junk like Mind's Eye, Volrath's Stronghold, and Phyrexian Arena. Because of how useful and powerful it can be, it's a great removal spell for most situations.
That gives you a good look at some of the cards I'm looking to trade for and target in my future acquisitions. These are the perfect sort of card to grab ahold of, since they have that needed flexibility to fit a lot of different decks and archetypes.
There are always some good cards out there. Take a gander at stuff like Aegis of the Gods or Spirit of the Labyrinth. Fires of Yavimaya and Realm Seekers. Cranial Archive and Whisperer of the Wilds. You'll find a lot of these flexible cards to expand the value of your collection on the cheaper side of Magic's life.
So what tools are you looking to pick up on the cheap? What prey are you hunting for? Was there a card or two here that caught your fancy?