Welcome to the Financial Value of Kaladesh! This article covers my thoughts on the prices of the Kaladesh cards spoiled by noon on Tuesday, September 6th. I'm going to discuss the current price of the card, how stable I feel the price of the card will be, and whether I feel the card will trend up or down going forward.
Energy is one of the new mechanics introduced in Kaladesh. Several cards generate energy, and then this energy can be used to either power those cards or other cards which require energy. It's very difficult to judge how good or bad energy and energy-based cards will be without access to the entire spoiler; since there are no previous cards in Magic which generate energy, my ability to evaluate this mechanic is entirely at the mercy of the cards spoiled in Kaladesh and Aether Revolt.
With that said – it appears that every card that uses energy will be able to generate energy in some way. The cards that generate energy seem to generate a generous amount, so I don't think there'll be a shortage of ways to gain energy if that's the direction you want to take a deck.
In short, just take the discussion about energy-related cards with a grain of salt until the full set is revealed!
Commons of Note
I don't want to spend too much time discussing commons and uncommons, but I did want to dedicate a section to pointing out the ones that will likely have a premium value for their foil version. I also want to note that Larger Than Life might be Standard-playable (since it grants trample), and Woodweaver's Puzzleknot will likely be a staple for any deck that focuses on energy. (Six energy and six life for five mana seems great; even two mana for three energy and three life might be playable for non-green decks.)
Uncommons of Note
I'll spend a little more time on the uncommons than I usually would. So far, this set has an above-average number of Constructed-playable uncommons.
Aerial Responder is a callback to Vampire Nighthawk (though deathtouch is better than vigilance, so take that with a grain of salt).
Ceremonious Rejection is either an upgrade or an alternate choice to Annul and Steel Sabotage in older formats. Generally the choice depends on whether you're expecting more Eldrazi or more enchantments in your metagame. Still, Ceremonious Rejection should be a sideboard staple that occasionally makes it into the maindeck for artifact-heavy metagames.
Essence Extraction is being heralded as the black Lightning Helix. It's really not; it costs one mana more, and can't hit players. Still, it's likely Standard-playable, so it'll hold some value.
Filigree Familiar is extremely good and will see a lot of Standard play. It might be a metagame choice in Modern but probably needed to be three power to see serious Modern play.
Harnessed Lightning and Die Young are similar in that they generate energy and can either go larger (or smaller) as needed. Harnessed Lightning is the better of the two, since it's an instant.
Morbid Curiosity is a card to keep an eye on for Modern and Legacy play. The ability to sacrifice cheat creatures (such as delve or affinity creatures) means that this will likely draw more cards than the typical card with this type of effect.
Ovalchase Dragster might finally be the Ball Lightning variant that sticks in Standard, since it dodges sorcery-speed removal. Since you can crew a Vehicle with summoning-sick creatures (it's the ability on the Vehicle that taps the creature, not the creature itself), you can immediately hit for six after a Wrath effect.
Voltaic Brawler will be a Modern staple in Naya Zoo decks. It's likely going to take the slot of Ghor-Clan Rampager. You should pick up a playset of Voltaic Brawler now, because it's the surest thing out of this set so far. (Not necessarily the most powerful, but I'm the most sure that this card will see immediate tournament play in at least one older format.)
Magic has been doing very well for Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro. This means that print runs are up on cards, and more and more packs are being opened. Foil cards and non-mythic rares (in other words, gold-symbol rares) have had lower and lower value in Standard play as the supply gets higher and higher. There have been very, very few rares in the past year that have broken the $5 mark, and even fewer that have stayed there.
The rares that have broken the $5 mark while Standard-legal are almost all cards that see play in Modern or Legacy as well as Standard. Lands in particular have suffered; it's no longer safe to assume that a cycle of nonbasic mana-fixing lands will be the most sought-after rares in a set.
Magic Origins Painlands
Caves of Koilos: $2
Llanowar Wastes: $3
Shivan Reef: $4
Yavimaya Coast: $3
Cycle Value: $14 (Avg. Value: $2.80 per card)
You might say, “But Ben! All five of those lands have multiple other printings, and Magic Origins is about to rotate out of Standard!” So let's look at the next block:
Battle for Zendikar/Oath of the Gatewatch Creature-Lands
Hissing Quagmire: $5
Lumbering Falls: $1.50
Needle Spires: $2
Shambling Vent: $3
Cycle Value: $14.50 (Avg. Value: $2.90 per card)
Canopy Vista: $2
Cinder Glade: $2
Prairie Stream: $3
Smoldering Marsh: $2
Sunken Hollow: $2
Cycle Value: $11 (Avg. Value: $2.20 per card)
Not convinced yet? Let's look at the block after that one!
Choked Estuary: $2.50
Foreboding Ruins: $3
Fortified Village: $2.50
Game Trail: $2.50
Port Town: $2.50
Cycle Value: $13 (Avg. Value: $2.60 per card)
This bring us to the enemy fastlands spoiled over the weekend in Kaladesh, a return to a cycle seen in Scars of Mirrodin.
Blooming Marsh: $6
Botanical Sanctum: $5
Concealed Courtyard: $5
Inspiring Vantage: $6
Spirebluff Canal: $7
Cycle Value: $29 (Avg. Value: $5.80 per card)
Let's compare to the Scars of Mirrodin cycle of fastlands:
Blackcleave Cliffs: $19 (Presale was $3, and was $1.50/$10 as low/high price while Standard-legal)
Copperline Gorge: $10 (Presale was $3, and was $2/$10 as low/high price while Standard-legal)
Darkslick Shores: $9 (Presale was $3, and was $2.50/$20 as low/high price while Standard-legal)
Razorverge Thicket: $8 (Presale was $3, and was $1.50/$10 as low/high price while Standard-legal)
Seachrome Coast: $6 (Presale was $3, and was $3/$18 as low/high price while Standard-legal)
Cycle Value: $52 (Avg. Value $10.40 per card), $3 avg. value presale, $13.60 highest avg. value while Standard-legal.
Now, the value of some of these lands is suppressed by reprints in various Event decks, but generally, the value of the current cycle of enemy-color fastlands is a lot higher than I'd expect sustainable. I think that these are better than the Shadows over Innistrad and Battle for Zendikar lands, but I'd expect them to settle more in the $3-$4 range than to keep going up to the $10 range, at least until the sets stop being opened and the supply starts drying up some.
Animation Module (Currently $3) – Commander players are going nuts about this with both experience-counter Commanders and going infinite (very easily) with Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest. I view this more like Hardened Scales – there's a place in Standard (and possibly Modern) where the metagame makes a deck built around this playable, since it only costs one. Still would be a fringe playable, so probably no rush to pick these up now.
Depala, Pilot Exemplar (Currently $2) – Completely unknown if this will be a fantastic or a mediocre card. My gut is telling me that it's worth picking up Depala at $2. Since Depala can tap without attacking (crewing a Vehicle), chances are that you'll be able to gain a lot of card advantage over the course of a game. We already know that there are Vehicles worth playing in this set; we just don't know if there are Dwarves as well (outside of Depala herself).
Fleetwheel Cruiser (Currently $2) – Another Ball Lightning / Skizzik variant for this set. It'll always be able to attack at least once, and it won't take much to crew. I think people are generally undervaluing Vehicles right now (they are really big and comparable favorably to "champion an X" creatures from Lorwyn).
Ghirapur Orrery (Currently $2): Vintage players have their eye on this card for Workshop decks. Other than that – probably not something that can have its symmetry broken well enough in Standard.
Gonti, Lord of Luxury (Currently $2) – So far, the card that's most surprised me by sales performance. I started Gonti at $1, and it just keeps selling. It just seems a little too small for the body (two power for four mana), and it can't play a land it's grabbed.
Inventors' Fair (Currently $2) – It looks like it'll be easy to get to three artifacts in this set; the question is if Inventors' Fair can make a dent in either Legacy or Modern. I think it's probably too slow for those formats, but it's also an uncounterable tutor effect that gets a relevant card type, so it's got a huge upside going for it.
Lathnu Hellion (Currently $1) – I'd compare this to Keldon Marauders. You aren't expecting it to stay around forever, but you're getting a huge creature for the mana cost upfront. Lathnu Hellion should be a staple of Red aggro decks in Standard and might make the leap to Modern (especially if energy decks emerge in Modern). Keep an eye on this one.
Panharmonicon (Currently $3) – Unfortunately, rares like this are the ones that are the biggest casualty of rares being devalued by high print runs! I've seen this type of effect before time and time again – Sundial of the Infinite, Torpor Orb, and the like. They all mess with triggers or triggered abilities, and they all end up selling for a lot less than their presale price (especially in the short-term after release) because they end up being a casual-only card.
Saheeli's Artistry (Currently $1): It's hard to think that a double Clone (one for a creature, one for an artifact) is only at $1. If you control an artifact creature, you can copy it twice (since it's both a creature and an artifact) – which is huge considering we have a lot of artifact creatures entering the format that are worth copying. Keep an eye on this one – most cards of this type are win-more, but this one can also be a “swing the game back” card if your opponent has a Gearhulk, and suddenly you have two Gearhulks to their one.
($0.49 to $0.99 and little chance of rising past Bulk)
Architect of the Untamed
Cultivator of Blades
Aetherworks Marvel (Started at $4, currently $8) – This was one of the first cards spoiled, and it was completely unclear how difficult it would be to get to six energy. The answer is “pretty easy, if that's your goal." It's very realistic that if you want to be able to activate Aetherworks Marvel on turn 4, you'll be able to build your deck to do so. We just had a miserable (in my opinion) Standard format with Collected Company, so my guess it that right now Aetherworks Marvel is being undervalued (it can grab anything, including Emrakul) and will be a real headache to deal with in Standard.
Cataclysmic Gearhulk – 3WW
Artifact Creature – Construct
When Cataclysmic Gearhulk enters the battlefield, each player chooses from among the non-land permanents he or she controls an artifact, a creature, an enchantment, and a planeswalker, then sacrifices the rest.
Cataclysmic Gearhulk (Started at $4, currently $8) – It's been a while since we had Titans in Standard (Magic 2012, to be exact), but we finally have a cycle of creatures that are worthy of replacing them. The “Soul” cycle from Magic 2015 didn't get there, but the ability to Tragic Arrogance your opponent's entire battlefield (while ending up with a huge creature on your own) is fantastic; the fact that you can choose Cataclysmic Gearhulk as either a creature or as an artifact means you can outnumber your opponent two creatures to one.
Chandra, Torch of Defiance (Started at $30, currently at $50) – Your guess is as a good as mine. The true test of whether Chandra will hold value is whether or not she crosses over to Modern and Legacy play. I don't think she's good enough for Legacy (the plus abilities don't immediately impact in the same way that Elspeth or Jace's abilities did), but Skred Red players are already salivating over Chandra for Modern. I think $50 is not a sustainable price point, but I also don't think we'll see Chandra fall completely off a cliff thanks to Modern. Unless you need these for release weekend, I'd wait for the supply to catch up with the demand.
Demon of Dark Schemes (Started at $5, currently at $5) – I'll compare this to Massacre Wurm. Massacre Wurm is likely the better card, since it didn't hit your own creatures. However, the second ability (lose two life versus reanimate anything) makes Demon of Dark Schemes potentially the better card for a control deck. Getting to four energy isn't too hard, and it's extremely possible that the turn after you drop Demon of Dark Schemes, you can reanimate the two best creatures in any graveyard. This ability doesn't tap Demon of Dark Schemes, meaning it's a card that can just completely turn around the momentum of a game on its own. Will probably dip in value, but I would not be surprised to see it get used in Standard.
Metallurgic Summonings (Started at $5, currently at $4) – Is there a deck that would rather run Metallurgic Summonings over Hive Mind if you're looking for this style of deck? I don't think so, and I think Metallurgic Summonings is a card that will end up being bulk.
Nissa, Vital Force (Started at $25, currently at $25) – Planeswalkers are tricky to evaluate, because when they are good they go nuts in value (see: Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Liliana of the Veil), but generally they are overhyped and underperform. Nissa, Vital Force probably won't stick at $25, but I think that she's good enough to see regular Standard play. If anything, we're getting close to a critical mass where Deploy the Gatewatch is going to be the card that rises in value, rather than the planeswalkers it tutors onto the battlefield.
Rashmi, Eternities Crafter (Started at $5, currently at $8) – Kind of like cascade, kind of like Momir Vig. Should be a fantastic card for Commander players, but probably too fragile (as a 2/3 for four) to see Modern or Standard play. Should go down in price after release.
Saheeli Rai (Started at $15, currently at $25) – Three-mana planeswalkers need to be evaluated very closely for Legacy and Modern play. Saheeli Rai looks like she might have a place in either Legacy or Vintage (think Dack Fayden, but for artifact decks). It's even possible that the second ability is good enough for Robots/Affinity decks in Modern.
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship (Started at $4, currently at $6) – The problem with Skysovereign is that it's not big enough, especially compared to how many other four-mana, five-power Vehicles we've already seen spoiled. Still – it's a reusable creature Bolt (both when it enters the battlefield and when it attacks), and I'm pretty hyped on Vehicles right now, so keep an eye on this potentially going up in value.
Torrential Gearhulk (Started at $6, currently at $6) – Three of the Gearhulks have been spoiled so far, and this is the weakest of the three. That's saying a lot, given that it's a huge flash creature that can net huge card advantage through free spells. This'll be a staple in Standard for control decks, and might make the leap as a one-of in Modern as well.
Verdurous Gearhulk (Started at $20, currently at $15) – This card is an absolute beating, and people aren't getting excited about it because it's not very sexy. At the worst, you're paying five mana for an 8/8 trample creature with no drawbacks. I'd look at this more as a top-end finisher that just decimates your opponent's ability to do combat math the second you hit five mana in a game. I remember when Wolfir Silverheart was Standard-legal, and the ability to give a creature +4/+4 while ending up with a (minimum) 4/4 creature after combat as a pump spell was backbreaking. The fact that Wolfir Silverheart was $4-$5 as a rare in Standard that was also one of the Theme Deck foils means that it had real lasting power. Verdurous Gearhulk is better than Wolfir Silverheart, and will be played a ton in Standard over the coming year. While I think it might slide in value some because all it does it "be big" or "make another creature big," in the end it's just a great card.
It's great to be back! I'll see you all on Friday for the second part of this series, in which I'll discuss foil values!