If you ever get the opportunity to travel back in time to 2008, think about bringing a couple boxes of Commander staples back to the future with you. As we saw in my article two weeks ago, Commander's rise from obscurity to the casual Magic format of choice changed the face of the game, and Magic finance was no exception. Relatively obscure cards like Gauntlet of Power and Black Market went from bulk rares to format staples with double-digit price tags, while 60-card casual staples like Circu, Dimir Lobotomist disappeared into obscurity. If you had predicted Commander's rise to complete causal dominance, you could have turned a couple of spare hundred dollar bills into the down payment on a nice house.
Of course, the idea of running big, wonky decks filled with crazy spells didn't begin with Commander. Back in the early 2000s, a format called 5-Color began gaining popularity with a certain breed of old school Magic player. In 5-Color, your deck had to contain exactly 250 cards with at least eighteen cards of each color. There were no singleton rules and no banned lists--and when I say there's no banned list, I mean it. Chaos Orb is legal in 5-Color, as is Contract From Below. The format - one where Black Lotus is a must-run, mind you - is played for ante. At the time, Arabian Nights copies of Jeweled Bird traded for a strong $30 simply because it was a cheap but cool way to save a piece of power from the ante pile.
Have you ever seen a Tropical Island or Mox Diamond with something horrible or hideous drawn on it in permanent marker? They still show up in trade binders and dealers' cases now and then. This is a remnant of the 5-Color format; people occasionally played with 'graffiti ante,' a popular format variant where instead of having to give your anted card to an opponent after a loss, you had to let them draw whatever they wanted on it.
5-Color was too expensive and wonky to ever break into the mainstream, but that didn't stop it from making an impact in the Magic community at large. When WotC was developing Magic Online, they received tons of requests to recreate the format in digital form. They didn't want to support ante - a Magic concept that has always been troubling, especially to local officials in places with strict anti-gambling laws - so they reimagined 5-Color as an online-only format called Prismatic. Prismatic kept the 250 card deck minimum, but it shifted the eighteen-card-per-color limit to twenty. It debuted with just a single banned card - Battle of Wits - because Magic Online didn't go back any farther than Invasion at the time. (A revised paper Magic B&R list for Prismatic was created later, once MTGO started adding old sets.) There was no ante, which meant that the format was reasonably approachable to the casual crowd. It was popular enough at my high school in 2003 that I ran a Prismatic tournament with a box of the latest set (Mirrodin) as the top prize.
What drew people first to 5-Color, then to Prismatic, then to Commander? In my mind, a good casual format needs to hit the following three notes in order to take off:
- Nostalgia. People who have been playing the game long enough are eventually drawn toward formats the remind them of the way the game "is meant to be played." For players in 2002, that meant ante. For players in 2009, that meant splashy singleton decks with big dumb spells.
- Variety. As Magic's power level creeps upward and communication among deckbuilders gets faster and easier, formats tend to stagnate and get boring. As the game has evolved, there has always been the need for a very restrictive format that is either hard or unnecessary to solve. Prismatic was Standard/Extended with decks so big that synergy became almost impossible. When the format got too predictable, people moved on to Commander, which added a singleton restriction that increased the variety of decks several hundred times over.
- Accessibility. One of the big selling points of Commander was the chance to use all of those cool old cards you probably never thought you'd get to play with again. Privileged Position! Crosis, the Purger! Time Warp! These cards weren't good enough for Legacy or (then) Extended, but they'd win you a Commander game if you used them correctly. Instead of having to go out and fight over the same staples that everyone else wanted, you could use the cards you already had.
Whether or not Commander is the ultimate casual format or just another variant in a long line of evolving ways to play Magic is a matter of serious debate. All last week, my Twitter feed was ablaze with discussion of the subject. Commander partisans point to WotC's recent opening up of Commander design space as evidence of the format's enduring dominance, while others feel as though planeswalkers that 'may be played as your Commander' are going to look awful silly in a couple of years.
I am undecided. Commander is several orders of magnitude more popular the Prismatic could have ever hoped to be, so I doubt it will fade into obscurity in the same sort of way, but some cracks in Commander's armor are starting to show a little. The gulf between a competitive Commander deck and a casual one keeps increasing in both cost and power level, and no longer can you hope to win most games with a pile of a hundred slightly synergistic cards from the back of your closet. I don't think Commander is going anywhere anytime soon, but I also wouldn't be shocked if a certain type of player begins looking for the next big thing: a virgin format the delights on the three principles of nostalgia, variety, and accessibility.
This is a financial column, so I thought it would be fun to take a look at possible specs in alternative casual formats that might either unseat Commander or begin to grow alongside it. I'm also not including any limited/cube variants here - those formats scratch a different itch, and they're already incredibly popular in their own way. Most of these picks are theoretical at best, so please take this exploration in the vein with which it was conceived: as a glance into several potential futures. Commander is in no danger of falling out of favor anytime soon - in fact, it is more popular than ever. If you're looking for something different though, this is where I'd start.
Type 4/Limited Infinity
The Rules: Type 4 is a multiplayer format based around the twin conceits that all players have infinite mana, but each player may only play one spell per round of turns. There is no formal banned list, but most players choose not to play with instant-kill cards like Fireball. The format is usually drafted from a communal Type 4 stack with a few hundred finishers and answers.
The Benefits: The triple threat of nostalgia, accessibility, and variety are in all play here - you can put whatever cards you want in your Type 4 stack and allow games to play out however you want them to. The inherent splashiness of the format is exactly what many casual players are looking for too - no card is too expensive or uncastable here. You can build a stack with the chaff from the back of your trade binder, so the barrier of entry is low if you're willing to deal with a variety of power levels.
The Drawbacks: Type 4 is not a new or ascending format - it dates back to 2003 or so and has mostly been overshadowed by Cube. While the format seems wide open at first, you do need a lot of sweepers and countermagic in order to create interesting boardstates. The deckbuilding itch that Commander scratches so nicely won't be satisfied here either. Lastly, the mana and play restrictions don't really mimic "real" Magic - it's fun, but it's not the same.
Possible Financial Implications: Big and crazy creatures and spells are the name of the game here. Got a bunch of seven and eight drops hanging around from those Commander 2014 pre-cons? Start a Type 4 stack! Most of the best Type 4 cards are already Commander staples, but some Type 4 stalwarts like Mischievous Quanar and Decree of Silence would jump a little in price. Type 4 is even more resistant to staples than Commander though, so even if the format became twenty times more popular, I doubt we'd see a blip on the financial radar.
Chances of Future Success: Low. Type 4 has a few vocal and excited proponents, but if it was going to catch on in a big way, it would have happened long before now. Best case, a few people read this article and decide to build their own stack.
The Rules: Emperor can be a variant of any format including Commander. Exactly six players are required, three on each team. The player in the middle of each team is the emperor, and the players on either side are the emperor's lieutenants. Players have individual hands and life totals unlike Two-Headed Giant, but victory is still shared by a team - if you kill the opposing emperor, your team wins. The most interesting wrinkle is that each player's spells and abilities only have a range of one player on either side of them. That means that each lieutenant can only attack the player across from them and can't touch the opposing emperor until they've killed their opposing lieutenant. It also means that the emperor spends most of his time playing out beneficial stuff to help her lieutenants - an emperor's Howling Mine, for example, would only cause the players next to her to draw extra cards. Before you play, make sure everyone is on the same page about these rules. The format has multiple variants including one where untargeted spells affect the entire board, one where the emperor can give creatures to lieutenants, one where the emperor's range is wider, etc.
The Benefits: Emperor can be played with decks you already have, making it a pretty accessible format, though it works best when your emperor has a deck built for the job. Building a dedicated emperor deck is fun, and there are many different routes you can take to victory. Also, unlike in Commander where turtling down is often the best option, Emperor encourages aggression from its lieutenants, opening up multiple deckbuilding strategies that standard chaos multiplayer games don't really have.
The Drawbacks: Emperor is another old-school relic from the land before Commander. The fact that you need six (and only six!) players is kind of brutal, and if you're going to make one dedicated Emperor deck, you might as well make two - no one else at your LGS is going to have one. Games can go long too, though they're generally not as long as a six-player Commander chaos game.
Possible Financial Implications: Emperor decks have too much variety to impact the finance world all that much. I haven't been able to find any contemporary lists of Emperor staples, though I do remember New Frontiers being the format's signature card when I played it heavily online about ten years ago. Were Emperor to make a major comeback, that spell would probably be the first one to climb out of bulk range.
Chances of Future Success: Low/Moderate. Emperor will never supplant Commander, but it could supplement it a little more than it does right now. Many people like to play 'group hug' decks in Commander already, and there's only a small step between those and some of the more defensive emperor decks. Emperor also allows combo players enough time to go off while being relatively undisturbed, though you'd better hope your lieutenants are on board with that plan. The fact that you can play Emperor with existing Commander decks helps, though its upside is limited by the fact that it has such exacting terms. Emperor's best shot at success is probably online where there are always five others willing to play, though that would take a resurgence in the casual community on MTGO.
The Rules: Like Emperor, Archenemy can be played with decks of any format including Commander. In Archenemy, the whole table gangs up on the 'archenemy' in a many vs. one battle. In order to even the odds, the archenemy has access to a powerful set of schemes alongside their normal deck. The schemes were released in a supplemental casual product back in the spring of 2010.
The Benefits: Archenemy is a great way to play multiplayer if you hate politics - just bash on the archenemy until one of you is dead. Games are relatively quick and brutal most of the time. Theme construction is wide-open enough that it's possible for someone to design a deck plus a set of schemes that work together in really cool ways. If you're playing Archenemy as a variant or an existing format, you only need one person to show up with the schemes too - everyone else can play whatever decks they have with them. In fact, there's no reason you can't have Standard, Commander, even a Legacy deck in the same game of Archenemy.
The Drawbacks: The big one is that the format requires access to schemes that were only released once almost five years ago. It is unclear whether WotC will ever print any more of them, though my guess is no - if the product had been a success, we'd have seen another set by now. There also isn't a lot of unique deckbuilding opportunity here - most people just play with whatever they have on hand. That said, I highly encourage you to buy some schemes and bring them to your LGS next time you want to have a casual night. The format is quite good.
Possible Financial Implications: When it comes to the schemes themselves, the financial implications are huge. If Archenemy becomes even a little more popular, some of the schemes are likely to see a fivefold or even a tenfold increase in price. Remember - they were only printed once, and it was in a product that didn't sell that well. Most schemes are still available right here in the $0.50 - $1 range, and they make an incredibly solid long-term buy.
Chances of Future Success: Moderate. If WotC decides to try and support the format again, all the old schemes will jump in price as people attempt to complete their sets. If they don't, I can still see the format having a renaissance at some point as people attempt to spice up their Commander nights a little.
The Rules: Planechase is similar to Archenemy in that you use a variant deck of oversized cards to augment a normal casual game of Magic. These oversized cards represent the different planes your wizard battle spans, and most of them contain both a static and an activated ability. If you want to play Planechase, you need a special planar die that activates planar abilities and move you from one plane to the next.
The Benefits: Like most of these formats, Planechase is mostly a Commander variant these days. If you're playing with people who have decks with varied power levels though, Planechase is a good way to up the level of randomness in order to ensure that the most broken deck doesn't necessarily win. It's also a fun way to breathe new life into decks and matchups that have gotten stale.
The Drawbacks: Randomness can be frustrating too, and it's very possible to have a bad game of Planechase simply by rolling the planar die poorly. Planechase is also a great way to make a two hour multiplayer game take three-and-a-half hours. Also, like Archenemy, it is unclear if this is still a product that WotC will continue to support and design for.
Possible Financial Implications: Archenemy redux. At some point I suspect the prices for these planes will take off regardless of whether or not WotC releases another round of these. If you ever want to buy a set, do it now.
Chances of Future Success: Moderate. Archenemy is the more unique (and, in my mind, better) format, but Planechase has its own cadre of die-hards. If WotC ever re-designs this format and releases a new set of planes with Commander specifically in mind, look out.
The Rules: Pauper is a 60-card Constructed format that is more similar to Legacy than Commander. The format primarily exists online, where it has a vast and loyal community. The rules of Pauper are simple: if a card has ever been printed at Common, it is legal in the format. Somewhat awkwardly, the current rules only count MTGO printings - Hymn to Tourach is not legal in Pauper because it was only printed at Uncommon (in Masters Edition II) online even though it was common in the paper Magic set Fallen Empires. Pauper also has a banned list, which is currently seven cards long: Cloudpost, Cranial Plating, Empty the Warrens, Frantic Search, Grapeshot, Invigorate, and Temporal Fissure.
The Benefits: The original intent behind Pauper was to give players access to a format similar to Legacy but without the expense. Since Pauper decks are made up exclusively of commons, even the priciest deck in the format is relatively affordable. Ironically, Pauper's success online has created a weird market where some common staples are as expensive as any rares - Ninja of the Deep Hours will run you more than seven dollars online. Were the format to make a major jump into paper Magic - and I'm a little surprised that it hasn't yet--this problem wouldn't be as big an issue. It would also provide a much-needed outlet for people to play an interesting Constructed format without having to worry about Magic finance at all.
The Drawbacks: Pauper is essentially the opposite of Commander - smaller decks, more consistency, fewer colors, fewer big and splashy abilities. It's never going to appeal to the breed of casual player currently sleeving up their twelfth Commander deck. It is also not a format that WotC is going to go out of their way to push, as it doesn't even come close to encouraging pack sales. It's not a great multiplayer format either, as most of the best cards in games with three or four players are rare. The format would also have to change slightly so that cards printed at common in paper Magic formats became legal or else some of the less experienced players might show up at tournaments with invalid decks.
Possible Financial Implications: If Pauper becomes as big in paper as it is online, expect foil copies of its non-Legacy staples to rise in price significantly. The most popular deck in the format right now is mono-blue with Delver of Secrets, Cloud of Faeries, Spellstutter Sprite, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Spire Golem, and a pile of countermagic and card draw. The second most popular deck is mono-black with a bunch of Chittering Rats and Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Cards like Ponder, Daze, and Treasure Cruise are already about as expensive as they're going to get, but some of the Pauper-only cards might see a significant increase. I'd recommend checking out the current metagame here and making decisions based on that. You can pick up most of these decks unfoiled for under $20 on Star City Games, so it's relatively cheap to brew up a few and try to drum up interest at your local store.
Chances of Future Success: Moderate to high. Pauper isn't even trying to complete with Commander, but it might take a bite out of the casual Modern and Legacy scene at some point as people leaving MTGO begin spreading the word at their local stores. I also expect the format to keep gaining popularity as Modern and Legacy staples continue to rise in price.
The Rules: Tribal Wars is a 60-card casual format with a similar banned list to Legacy. (Also banned: anti-tribal cards like Extinction, Circle of Solace, Engineered Plague, Peer Pressure, and Tsabo's Decree). The only other rule is that one third of every deck must be of a single creature type.
The Benefits: Tribal Wars allows you to run the type of hyper-synergistic tribal deck that usually don't play out well in Commander. Want to run four Goblin Piledrivers like it's 2002 all over again? Need four copies of Leaf-Crowned Elder to make your wacky Treefolk deck work? This is just about the only place you can do that anymore.
The Drawbacks: Restriction breeds creativity, but Tribal Wars is too narrow to interest most people. If you're one of those players who wishes that Legacy was Merfolk vs. Elves vs. Goblins all the time, this is your format, but it's kind of boring for everyone else. It's also not a very interesting multiplayer format; most of the decks are too aggressive. It's not a great brewers' format either, because most of the decks are too linear.
Possible Financial Implications: Legacy Elves can basically be ported wholesale into Tribal Wars, so whatever you're planning on winning with needs to be able to beat it consistently. The other linchpin of the format is probably Goblin Recruiter, which is legal in Tribal Wars despite being banned in Legacy. If Tribal Wars managed to seriously catch on, Goblin Recruiter would quadruple in price at least.
Chances of Future Success: Low. The best decks in this format are basically Legacy decks, so your deckbuilding choices are very limited. If you show up with three-color giants, you will lose.
The Rules: Planeswalker Wars is a singleton format based on Commander except with 61 cards instead of 100. Instead of having a legendary creature in your Command Zone, you get a planeswalker of your choice with the same color identity and replaying rules as Commander. Life totals start at 30 though, and there is no general damage.
The Benefits: Planeswalker Wars fixes an issue that I've always had with Commander: All planeswalkers should be legal to use as your Commander! Why is this not already a thing? This should have been a rules announcement that came along with the release of Commander 2014. At the very least, we could have avoided having "this can be your commander" written on the bottom of our five newest commanders, cutting off the art.
The Drawbacks: 60-card singleton decks are too consistent for a casual format. The 40 "lost" cards are generally going to be the interesting, variance-filled ones. In fact, your planeswalker commander is going to be fairly irrelevant most of the time. This is a fine format if everyone is on the same page, but the split between competitive and casual version of Planeswalker Wars is even more extreme than Commander.
Possible Financial Implications: Very little. Planeswalkers already have value thanks to the existing casual formats, and most of the other good cards in this format are Commander, Modern, or Legacy staples. Your best bet would be to invest in build-around-me 'walkers like Venser, the Sojourner and Xenagos, the Reveler (assuming he's out of Standard by that point).
Chances of Future Success: Low. Commander has already become faster and more competitive, so we don't really need an even more cutthroat version of the same thing. That said, I wouldn't be shocked if a Commander variant where Planeswalkers were allowed as your Commander did take off at some point. I'd expect it to be a 100-card format though.
The Rules: Tiny Leaders is a Commander variant with the following rules modifications: no card may have a CMC greater than three, all decks must contain exactly 50 cards including your commander, and all life totals start at 25. There is also a separate banned list that can be found at tinyleaders.blogspot.com which includes most swords and mana rocks.
The Benefits: Smaller deck sizes means that Tiny Leaders is generally a more affordable format to optimize and play than Commander. The ban on expensive spells leads to a less haymaker-driven format than Commander as well. That doesn't mean this is an aggro-only format though - there are good control and combo decks to be built as well.
The Drawbacks: Tiny Leaders is a relatively new format that's currently being supported by only a few hundred people, so it's not clear how much actual variance there is. By restricting Commander down even further, I'd expect a few decks to emerge as fairly unstoppable after a while. There is also too much emphasis placed on cards that 'cheat' the CMC 3 rule - X spells, Overload cards, split cards, etc. It's also unclear how affordable this format will end up being if it takes off - most of the best CMC 3 or less spells are already played in Legacy or Modern. It also doesn't do a good job at allowing people to play the splashy cards they want to - if anything, I could see it taking off as a more competitive alternative to Commander, not a more casual one.
Possible Financial Implications: You might see a little bit of a premium placed on the CMC 3 shard and wedge commanders, but for the most part the cards that are good in Tiny Leaders are already good elsewhere.
Chances of Future Success: Moderate to high. I've been seeing more buzz about Tiny Leaders recently, both on Reddit and at Grand Prix Los Angeles. I can't see it ever replacing or even taking a chunk out of the Commander playerbase, but I wouldn't be surprised if it gains some competitive traction as a bridge between traditional Commander and Legacy.
Good Ol' 60 Card Casual
The Rules: All my thoughts on this format are covered in a thick coat of nostalgia. Your decks have to be 60 cards, but we all know that Matt's deck is going to be at least 80 because he insists on playing with every elf he's ever opened. There is no banned list, but you're not allowed to play that stupid combo anymore, Eric. You know the one. In fact, why don't you sit on the next one and, uh, judge for us? You can't have more than four of any card that isn't a basic land, though no one's going to say anything when Travis plays his fifth copy of Craw Wurm this game because none of us can remember the last time he won.
The Benefits: You can build around anything! Like, did anyone stop and think about what would happen if you put all of your burn spells in the same deck? Or what about if all you had were fliers and no one could block them? Dude, that'd be so sweet.
The Drawbacks: One time, my friend's older brother played me with his sick black red deck, and I had to blow up all my lands and discard all my cards. I told him that land destruction was a cheap way to win, but he just laughed at me and said I had no shot at beating the good kids at summer camp next year.
Possible Financial Implications: This guy down at the shop wants my green white double land, and I'm gonna trade it to him next time he's there. I don't play green white ever, and I know he has at least seven different goblins in his binder. I can probably get three of them if I'm lucky, maybe four if I throw in one of my blue cards.
Chances of Future Success: High, but irrelevant. To a certain group of people, this is all Magic was and all Magic will ever be. I would love to see it come back into vogue as a semi-competitive format, but "everything is legal" is just too broad a definition. When you start trying to ban or restrict cards, you just end up with Standard, Modern, Legacy, and Vintage.
And really, that's the problem with my search for the next Commander. Most of these formats are variants that are meant to be played with decks that you already have. Now that Commander is the default casual format, any foray into something like Archenemy or Emperor is going to happen within the confines of Commander. The competitive, single-player oriented formats like Pauper or Tribal Wars may also gain traction as affordable alternatives to Modern or Legacy, but they don't provide the depth of options or the splashiness that Commander players crave. For now, and for the near future at least, Commander is it.
My own issues with Commander (a format that I love, by the way - I am probably a hard man to live with due to my desire to perfect the things I adore) are twofold. The first is that some cards and strategies are dead due to the constraints of singleton Magic - the aforementioned Leaf-Crowned Elder conundrum. This saddens me a little as an old-school 60 card casual player, but it's been an issue since the beginning, and I don't see it changing anytime soon. Now that WotC designs most of their causal cards with singleton play in mind, I doubt it will be much of a problem going forward.
The second, more pressing issue is what I call "staple creep." Now that Commander is being designed for and optimized, the number of cards that should be included in each deck keeps going up. And what always gets cut? Marginal spells, the weird spells, the cool back-of-the-binder stuff that made Commander interesting in the first place. Many of my friends who are heavily into Commander have begun deliberately powering down their decks, taking out some of their most frequently played cards in favor of worse spells that have higher variance.
Deliberately powering down might be the future of Commander, but I wouldn't be shocked if the answer ends up being something slightly different: increase the hundred card limit. The relatively synergy-free 250 card decks from the old Prismatic format are probably too big, but I think that the future of casual play might lie somewhere in between those two goalposts. It wouldn't solve all of my problems with the format, but it does get us closer to what I think we want our casual format of choice to be: a playground unlike anything you've experienced since the day you bought your first booster box, emptied it out on the kitchen table, and thought about what comes next.
This Week's Trends
- In an interview last week, Aaron Forsythe spoke a little about Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, and Jeskai Ascendancy in Legacy and Modern. According to him, WotC will be letting the next batch of Modern Grand Prix play out with these cards before making any possible bannings. He did mention that they will be looking closely at these cards leading up to the next B&R announcement this winter. I doubt there will be any emergency bannings at this point - that was always an incredible long shot--but I wouldn't expect all three cards to survive the next B&R announcement. He also said that they would let Legacy go "for a while," so it's likely that Treasure Cruise will last longer there.
- Want a Modern spec? How about Ensoul Artifact, an M15 uncommon that more and more Affinity decks are running these days. It's up to $2 retail, but you can find them in trade near bulk still.
- Is it time to buy KTK singles yet? Not unless you absolutely need them. Prices are still dropping across the board. In fact, the KTK bear market has been dragging everything else down with it, including cards that shouldn't be dropping. Eidolon of the Great Revel is a good example of this. While the card may still appear in a pre-constructed product, it is about as solid an Eternal spec as it gets. There's just no reason it should have fallen in price by 25% over the past three weeks. I still like mid-December as the overall bottom of the market though - that's generally been the historical low. Grab your singles the week before Christmas.
- One of the few Standard cards rising in value? Whip of Erebos. It hasn't budged too much, but we're talking about a card that's good in both casual and competitive decks. In fact, Sultai Reanimator won an IQ just a few days ago:
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Nemesis of Mortals
- 3 Rakshasa Deathdealer
- 1 Reclamation Sage
- 4 Satyr Wayfinder
- 3 Courser of Kruphix
- 3 Nighthowler
- 2 Nyx Weaver
- 4 Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
- 1 Thassa, God of the Sea
Standard is still wide open though, so buy and build whatever you like. Long run, I still like Abzan of some variety as the consensus best deck, which makes Soul of Theros and Anafenza the Foremost interesting specs as they begin to see more play. Temur is starting to put up better results too, and I doubt Rattleclaw Mystic and Savage Knuckleblade can go much lower.
- It's just about time to start buying casual M15 cards for the long haul. My favorite pick right now is The Chain Veil, a casual mythic all-star that will be hard to reprint in a Commander deck because it requires a ton of planeswalkers to work. It's also going to get better with every planeswalker printed from here on out, and any card that lets you break the rules of the game is always worth a third or fourth look. At just $1.50, there is nothing but upside here - I bought a few dozen myself.
- I was going to recommend buying MTGO power this week, but WotC is going to be running more VMA drafts concurrently with the new MTGO cube in a few weeks. Between that and the fact that WotC had to cut down on the number of Vintage events due to lack of interest, I no longer think that buying in right now is the smart play unless you're dying to get the cards for personal use.
- The third set in KTK Block has been confirmed as Dragons of Tarkir! We knew this was coming, but it's still nice to see. While amateur speculators might go in on Crucible of Fire (a $0.50 rare from M15), I doubt that card has much room to grow - most dragons are already big enough to kill you dead without the Crucible bonus. The gutsy call here is Dragonspeaker Shaman, a $5 uncommon from Scourge that could easily jump to $10 or even $15 when DoT hits shelves. Of course, if the card is reprinted in DoT, your spec goes to zero. Too risky for me, but I wouldn't be shocked if someone makes a pile of money on this flip.
- Also spoiled last weekend: Yasova Dragonclaw, a green legend with a new type of hybrid mana in her text box. Could the enemy filterlands be returning to complement the KTK fetches? It seems likely enough to me that I'm going to sell the random ones I have lying around just in case.
- We're also getting a new duel deck: Elspeth vs. Kiora. Needless to say, you should not be hanging onto copies of either card for the long term. Get out now if you're not playing with them currently.
- There are some Twitter/forum rumblings about potential spikes in Forked Bolt (foil and non) and foil copies of Delver of Secrets. I like both, and if you still need copies of either, get them now ahead of any possible buyout.