Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Financial Value of Battle for Zendikar! There were a lot of cards spoiled over the past 24 hours, so let me discuss them now.
Two New Planeswalkers!
We now have three planeswalkers spoiled. I was pretty bullish on Gideon, and now we know the stats on two others: Ob Nixilis and Kiora.
Ob Nixilis generally looks like a pretty weak planeswalker. Five mana for Terminate is a lot, and Phyrexian Arena typically isn't an effect you want at five mana. While the ultimate on Ob Nixilis will quickly kill an opponent (they lose four life a turn cycle minimum, between your draw and their draw), we've pretty much learned to ignore any ultimate on a planeswalker if that ultimate isn't one that will likely go off within a turn of playing that planeswalker. I'm starting Ob Nixilis Reignited at $15, but I expect it to be one of those planeswalkers that drops into the $7-$10 range shortly after release. The upside on Ob Nixilis Reignited is that you're going to start with six loyalty if you immediately draw a card, making it difficult for an opponent to remove from the board before you get a second activation off.
Kiora is a step up from Ob Nixilis, but just barely. Once again - might as well ignore the ultimate because you're not going to reasonably get up to +8 loyalty in a regular game of Magic. The first ability on Kiora is generally a weakened version of the Garruk Wildspeaker +1 ability. Sometimes it's going to be better (if you have a creature with a tap effect that isn't mana-driven), but generally you'd rather have Garruk (if possible) to ensure you ramp +2 mana a turn. The second ability on Kiora is a lot more interesting, especially since manlands are confirmed back in Standard. Four mana to draw two creatures (one of them a land) is decent enough, and creature-heavy decks are going to pretty reasonably draw two cards either way (regular land + regular creature).
Still, I'm not sure that four mana for a +1 ramp spell (reliably +1 ramp at least) or a limited draw two is where you want to be in Standard at this point. It hurts that Kiora can only pseudo-protect herself (if you don't have a creature in play, the untap ability is irrelevant). I also think that Kiora, Master of the Depths is going to start heading down in value, rather than up. This leaves Gideon, Ally of Zendikar as the best planeswalker spoiled in this set so far.
Other New Spoilers
It's been a long time since we revisited the Phantom mechanic from Judgment, but here we go - one of the best Phantom creatures ever printed (Phantom Nishoba is the only other contender for this title, though). The drawback on Undergrowth Champion is that you have to remove a counter if it takes damage regardless of whether that damage would be lethal or not. The upside to Undergrowth Champion is that it can very, very quickly get to 4/4 with fetchlands, and can absolutely dominate the board if it's not killed by an absolute-removal spell (sorry Red!). I think Deathmist Raptor is a slightly better card due to deathtouch, but I think that Undergrowth Champion is a card that will have a boost in value once people start playing with it.
The price on five-mana Wrath effects in Standard goes between $2 and $5. Recent examples include:
Crux of Fate ($2-$5, currently at $3)
End Hostilities ($2-$3, currently at $1)
I'm starting Planar Outburst at $2, because this seems to be the lowest price that five-mana absolute Wrath effects hit - at least, without a four-mana absolute Wrath in the format (the last one of these was Supreme Verdict, which hit as high as $8). I don't expect much movement on the value of this card, but the Awaken cost is a bonus to make this efficient to cast as a single-target removal spell lategame.
Currently at $1, this is potentially a broken combo piece for some deck out there. Ignore it as a 4/3 flyer for four mana and ignore its drawback (sacrifice a creature at the beginning of upkeep). The only thing you really need to concern yourself with is the last line: "Whenever you sacrifice a creature, draw a card."
This last ability is an absolute beast; it's so unconditionally triggered that you can absolutely build around Smothering Abomination as the engine for a combo deck. I don't know exactly what that combo might be, but there are enough sacrifice outlets worth playing in Modern/Standard, there are enough self-sacrificing creatures you'd want to play (Eldrazi Spawn?), enough mechanics to encourage sacrificing (Exploit!), and enough mass-token generators that you can feed to the machine (Krark-Clan Ironworks + Genesis Chamber?) that Smothering Abomination has a massive upside to get broken somewhere.
Not as bullish on it being played as a straight-up beater given that it's smaller than Butcher of the Horde, and Butcher has barely seen any Standard play.
Bulk rare. The foil version of Zada should pull a premium because Zada is an awesome build-around-me commander, but I don't see it having implications for Constructed play.
Bulk, but might be a sideboard option for control decks. Seems too slow as a card-drawing engine and too small to act as a deterrent to attacking creatures (since it'll likely get killed by any removal spell your opponent happens to have).
I have been asked a lot of questions about the full-art Zendikar Expeditions since WOTC spoiled their existence at PAX. Let's do this in a FAQ Format!
Q: What are these going to be worth?
A: Your guess is as good as mine! What I can say is that the fetches will be the most desired of these cards (due to being played in Vintage, Legacy, Modern, and Standard), followed by the shocklands (Modern), and lastly the new BFZ duals (Standard and Modern, but they are so new that people will have to take time to get acclimated to them).
Q: That's an evasive answer! Can you give me actual prices?
A: If I gave you absolute prices, I'd just be making up numbers. There is a general vague rarity that these have been assigned (slightly more common than a foil mythic rare), but that doesn't really mean much until people start cracking packs. Given that there are 25 of these, the distribution of getting any one given Zendikar Expedition is going to be pretty low.
What I can say is that the prices I've seen so far are generally:
BFZ Duals: $40-$60
Fetchlands: $150-$350 (The blue ones being generally $250-$350, the non-blue ones being generally $150-$250.)
Q: Are those prices sustainable?
A: Again, can't say for sure until I see how frequently these show up in packs in actual practice (versus theory). My gut is telling me that the price on these is actually low right now, because everyone and their mother is going to be trying to put together playsets of these. Additionally, these are only going to be in Battle for Zendikar (there are different Expeditions in Oath of the Gatewatch), so despite how many boxes are going to be opened, the supply on these is truly going to be lower than the demand.
Q: When is StarCityGames.com® going to presell Zendikar Expeditions?
A: We aren't. Again - don't know how many we're opening, don't want to oversell them. They will be set live at around 11am on release day (October 2nd).
Q: Any clue on the other 20 Zendikar Expeditions that will be in Oath of the Gatewatch?
A: Nope! I'm going to assume the following though:
1) They are going to be lands.
2) They are going to be Modern-legal.
3) At least five of them are going to be enemy-colored Battle lands (I'm assuming they will finish this cycle in the next set).
4) I don't think that manlands will be part of this cycle. They have too much text on them, and I don't think they could both reasonably fit the manland text on the Full-Art versions of these cards and still have them be Full-Art.
5) My best guess would be from among the following:
a. The 10 filterlands from Shadowmoor/Eventide
b. The 10 painlands
c. The 10 M10/Innistrad Lands
d. The 5 fastlands from Scars of Mirrodin
e. All 3 Urza Tron lands
f. A greatest-hits of Modern-legal lands from among the following:
iii. City of Brass
v. Dryad Arbor
vi. Eldrazi Temple
vii. Eye of Ugin
viii. Forbidden Orchard
xi. Mana Confluence
xiii. Miren, the Moaning Well
xvi. Reflecting Pool
xvii. River of Tears
xviii. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
g. I don't think these will be possible because of wordiness:
ii. Cavern of Souls
iv. Gemstone Mine
vii. Tolaria West
And that's what I've got for today! See you tomorrow to discuss the further Financial Values of Battle for Zendikar!