Welcome back to my financial set review for Dominaria! This is the second (and final) installment, so please check out Part One if you haven't had a chance to take a look yet. Want to know my thoughts on Mox Amber and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria? That's where you'll find them.
I was a little worried that my overall opinion of Dominaria would go down once the full set was revealed, but that didn't happen. No matter what kind of Magic you like to play, there's something for you in Dominaria. Wizards of the Coast is going to sell a lot of packs, I think. I'll certainly be buying a couple of boxes for myself.
When a set is both deep and popular (like Dominaria is likely to be) prices tend to spike hard during the first few weeks of Standard legality before experiencing a lengthy and slow bottoming-out. Consider Khans of Tarkir, the last set to receive this level of hype. About two weeks after the set dropped, there were TONS of exciting cards in the $8-$20 range: Mantis Rider, Siege Rhino, Wingmate Roc, and more. Many of these cards tripled or quadrupled from their modest pre-order prices, and the average expected value of a booster pack's singles was above the retail cost of buying said booster. That sort of peak can't ever last, though, and since so many packs were opened, those prices ending up dropping-hard. Even though Siege Rhino ended up being the most important card in Standard for quite some time, it was readily available for less than $5.
This narrative might not apply to Dominaria, of course. For one, Khans of Tarkir had five allied fetchlands in the rare slot, and those weren't going to drop below $8-$10 regardless because of their power in Modern and Legacy. Having that much value tied up in a single cycle of cards created a situation where there just wasn't a lot of surplus value to go around among the set's other staples, so there wasn't much upside for marginal cards like Wingmate Roc.
Even though Dominaria doesn't have any fetchlands, I expect the set's hottest cards to spike pretty hard over the next couple of weeks before starting their long, inevitable fall. If you're looking to buy in, I'd suggest either doing it now or waiting until midsummer. You don't want to get caught paying top dollar right around the first of May.
To the cards!
Karn, Scion of Urza - $38
There has been a lot of hype around Karn, Scion of Urza, and I totally understand why. Colorless planeswalkers have always been good, and the fact that this thing only costs four mana to cast is absurd. High starting loyalty? Built-in card advantage machine? Sign me up.
This is usually the part of the review where I'd insert a paragraph break and then tell you all the reasons why Karn won't actually be that good. I'm not going to do that today because Karn is just as good as he looks. I suppose you could argue that Karn's plus-one is a little worse than just getting to draw a random card, and his minus-two isn't going to be game-breaking outside of a couple decks, but those are pretty minor quibbles.
In many ways, Karn, Scion of Urza reminds me of Jace Beleren. I expect Karn to slot into at least one tier one Standard deck, but the fact that it's a cheap, colorless mythic rare basically means that Karn's hit the jackpot on chase mythic bingo. You're probably not getting in under $30 this year unless 90% of the Magic community has completely misevaluated him. I'd never speculate on a $38 Standard-legal card, and I won't be doing so here, but you can go ahead and buy your Karns now if you need them for your own decks.
Lyra Dawnbringer - $16
Baneslayer Angel is back, and she's legendary! Back in 2009, Baneslayer was a $50 card that warped the entire market around itself. It didn't see nearly as much play by the end of its time in Standard, though, and even a card as powerful as Baneslayer Angel is pretty metagame dependent.
It's hard to know how effective Lyra Dawnbringer is going to be without seeing how the metagame develops. She doesn't match up terribly well against The Scarab God, but honestly, what does? Fatal Push doesn't hit Lyra, and her second ability matches up nicely with the powerful Shalai, Voice of Plenty. Lyra will be legal in Standard for a couple of years, and during that time I expect she'll go through periods of dominance. Buying in at $16 is fine, and I wouldn't be shocked if Lyra Dawnbringer experiences some spikes toward the $30 mark. The fact that Lyra is legendary should keep her from ever being a four-of in a deck, but we saw Archangel Avacyn in the $30-$40 range recently. Lyra Dawnbringer might not be that impactful, but it has a shot at greatness
I love the flavor behind Darigaaz Reincarnated, but inflexible seven-mana cards must do a lot to see play in Standard. Flying, trample, haste and a very slow reanimation ability don't seem like they're going to cut it in 2018. A Jund deck might want a couple of these in their sideboard for some sort of grindy control matchup, but I'm guessing this one ends up being a $2-$3 mythic in the end.
At first glance, Muldrotha, the Gravetide looks like a Commander-only card. Its ability is deceptively powerful, though, especially in a metagame with oaths, sagas, and Field of Ruin. If the metagame is slow enough, I can imagine the advent of some kind of Muldrotha control deck that looks to win by recurring Field of Ruin and Phyrexian Scriptures over and over again. I've seen some rumblings about Modern playability, too, but that seems like a bridge too far.
I'm going to err on the side of being conservative here and say that Muldrotha, the Gravetide is going to end up being a $2-$3 mythic. The upside here is intriguing, though, and I'll be buying in fast if I start to see any top players messing around with some kind of Muldrotha Control shell.
Verix Bladewing - $5
My biggest problem with Verix Bladewing is that it's in a format with a ton of other good four and five-drop red cards. This thing must compete with Rekindling Phoenix, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Hazoret the Fervent, and Glorybringer. That's a lot of firepower!
Three of those cards are going to rotate soon, though, and Verix Bladewing might find a home after that. Think of Verix as a slightly more expensive (but more versatile) Broodmate Dragon and you'll see why I think this is a Standard-playable mythic. Cards that scale so that they're respectable in both the midgame and late-game tend to be underrated, and Verix Bladewing is the sort of card that could easily end up stabilizing in the $15-$20 range at some point. My goal is to buy in at some point in the late summer, but there's a shot that Verix will make a splash before that and you'll wish you pre-ordered at $5. Keep an eye on this for now, at least.
Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar - $5
Sometimes, you just need a really big boy. Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar fits the bill, though I can't imagine this one's going to replace Carnage Tyrant anytime soon. Multani might end up seeing play as a one-of or two-of out of a sideboard, but that wouldn't be enough to elevate this card out of the bulk mythic range.
I can picture Naru Meha, Master Wizard showing up as a two-of in some kind of crazy Wizard deck, and foil copies will undoubtedly be popular among Commander players, but the fact that you need to play this alongside an impactful instant or sorcery spell means that you're really looking at a five- or six-drop here-at least. I'd rather just run another good spell instead. Future bulk mythic.
Cabal Stronghold - $5
I don't get the love for Cabal Stronghold. Yeah, it's kind of like Cabal Coffers, but you need five basic Swamps on the battlefield before this card actually does anything. That makes Cabal Stronghold a poor choice for most decks in both Standard and Commander. I bet it'll see some light play now and again, and it'll be worth considering if mono-black becomes a thing, but this is a $1-$1.50 rare, not a $5 one.
Perhaps this is the card that makes Cabal Stronghold good? I'd rather just run Josu Vess, Lich Knight in a W/B Knights shell or a B/G ramp deck, though, and I think it has a shot to see play in both of those builds. A 4/5 menace for four is decent in the metagame right now, and the kicker gives you an unstoppable late game topdeck for free. I love the versatility here, and the only real question to me is how good Josu's unkicked form will be.
In terms of price, $5 seems about right. I think that Josu Vess will see enough early play to sustain that number, and it might climb higher if it sees play as the top end in multiple good decks early on. I don't love speculating on any of the higher end rares in Dominaria right now because I think that the mythics are good enough to suck away most of the set's overall value, but I like this card more than most that are currently on the $5 tier.
Thran Temporal Gateway feels like a trap. The tempo disadvantage is big, and you're still playing eight total mana for the first thing you flash onto the battlefield. Either you've filled your deck with giant things (in which case you'd rather just play a bunch of ramp spells) or you're not really getting top value out of your gateway and have no reason to run it at all. People are going to try to make this work, I'm sure, but I doubt it'll be anywhere near the format's top tier. Aetherworks Marvel this is not.
On the other hand, Quicksilver Amulets are very popular among the casual crew, and this one works with artifacts and planeswalkers. I doubt it'll drop into bulk, and it should be a nice long-term hold. I'm staying away at $5, though.
Helm of the Host - $3
Helm of the Host goes infinite (or nearly infinite) with a couple of popular commanders, and it seems worth including in most Commander decks that like to play with the combat phase. That should be enough to keep this card in the $2-$3 range, and I'll be aggressively trading for foils for as long as Dominaria is being opened. This isn't good enough for Standard play, though.
Blackblade Reforged - $3
Making your creatures arbitrarily large is fantastic in Limited and okay in Commander. It tends not to be great in Standard. I'd love a Standard format where Blackblade Reforged is good enough, but I don't think that'll happen and I expect this one to end up being a $1 rare.
Rite of Belzenlok - $3
Players love their tokens, and the fact that Rite of Belzenlok is in Standard alongside Anointed Procession means that it'll see at least a small amount of play. I'm not sure where this card goes after that, but $2-$3 seems right to me. Grab 'em if you want 'em.
If Torgaar, Famine Incarnate had any kind of evasion, or really any keyword at all, I'd be a lot more interested. As it is, I don't think this card is good enough to either go all-in on early in a game or to run as a payoff card in some kind of cheap tokens deck. I'd probably run a couple of these in the Rite of Belzenlok/Anointed Procession deck that I just talked about, but I'm thinking this one stays in the $1-$2 range and never makes it big.
I have no idea where Traxos, Scourge of Kroog will fit, but the card seems incredibly good. There are plenty of decks where you'll be casting an artifact almost every turn, and a 7/7 with trample only needs to hit a couple of times before your opponent is dead. Heck, this card might even be powerful enough for play in some of the Eternal formats. At $3, I'm willing to take a flyer. It'll be worth it if Traxos sees play in one good deck in any format, and it'll be a bargain if he beats those metrics.
Jodah, Archmage Eternal - $2.50
Jodah, Archmage Eternal is a fantastic five-color commander, especially for anyone who wants to just jam a bunch of big giant things in their deck and try to cast them. I bet this card looks great in foil, too. As for competitive Magic, I'm not seeing it. Future bulk rare.
Marwyn, the Nurturer - $2
Marwyn, the Nurturer has a high floor thanks to casual demand - it's fantastic in any Elf-related Commander setting - and I think it'll be playable in Standard as well. Of course, I said the same thing about Gyre Sage and after a week one spike to $5 that card didn't end up doing much of anything. $2 is a totally reasonable gamble if you're a believer in either Standard Elves or Marwyn being part of a ramp shell, but there's a chance that this one's a total dud, too. I suspect that this one will spend at least a week or two above $5 at some point, but there are other cards I'd rather speculate on first.
Aryel is powerful enough to be playable in the right sort of Standard deck. A 4/4 vigilance for four mana isn't the most unreasonable body, and both of Aryel's abilities are very good. The financial upside is limited here since there will probably only be one Aryel deck in Standard, but $2 is reasonable if you want a copy and I could see this being a $5-$6 card if everything breaks right.
Dread Shade - $2
A bet on Dread Shade is a bet on a mono-black deck featuring this, Josu Vess, and Cabal Stronghold. My guess is that Josu Vess will find play in a two-color deck and these other cards won't prove powerful enough to be worth building around. If I'm wrong, this might end up being a $4-$5 card for a while. If I'm right, this is a bulk rare.
Benalish Marshal - $2
I like Benalish Marshal a lot more than Dread Shade. The payoff is better, and mono-white is already a tier two Standard deck. An aggro deck with a solid midgame featuring Aryel and History of Benalia? Yes, please! $2 seems like a reasonable gamble here, and this is another one of those mid-tier cards with a decent shot at hitting $4-$5 at some point.
Lich's Mastery - $2
Lich's Mastery is hard to evaluate. It's either stone unplayable or it's an important late-game card for some sort of lifegain-y Vampires strategy and/or a combo brew that just wants to stay alive a little longer. I'm going to bet against it for now because I haven't seen enough buzz in the competitive Magic community to get me excited, but there's a shot that this one ends up breaking out at some point.
Daring Archaeologist - $1.50
I've got a couple of artifact-based Commander decks that'll want to look at Daring Archaeologist. The card is too slow for Standard, though, and I suspect it'll end up in the bulk range before long.
Sylvan Awakening - $1.50
I love the potential of Sylvan Awakening. Indestructible is crucial here, and this card can be anything from a kill condition in ramp decks to (my preferred option) a combo piece that'll help generate infinite mana. It's at least going to be good in Modern Ascendancy, I expect. $1.50 is great for a card with this sort of upside, and I'm going to preorder a set right away.
The Mending of Dominaria - $1.50
There will be some (Gitrog Monster) Commander decks that want The Mending of Dominaria, but it's too expensive and too slow for competitive play. Future bulk rare.
Oath of Teferi - $1.50
In Standard, I expect Oath of Teferi to end up being an unplayable win-more rather than an unstoppable combo piece. The right planeswalker being printed can change that, of course, but I wouldn't bet on this one making a major impact on any Constructed format. It's a sweet Commander card, though, and the sort of Doubling Season-ish thing that can end up being worth $5-$6 at some point. I'll be looking to snap up a few copies for my long-term box if Oath of Teferi ever hits bulk.
Primevals' Glorious Rebirth - $1.50
So, you need to ramp yourself to seven mana, have a legendary creature or planeswalker on the battlefield, and have a graveyard full of legendary stuff for Primevals' Glorious Rebirth to be good? There's a very small chance that someone makes an Approach-style deck work with this card, but it looks super bulk-y to me.
The Antiquities War - $1.50
Aside from the week when Saffron Olive causes The Antiquities War to hit $6 because he managed to kill somebody with a dozen 5/5 Treasure tokens, this one should stay in the bulk range.
Territorial Allosaurus - $1.50
The four-drop slot is always going to be competitive, but I think Territorial Allosaurus has a chance at seeing real competitive play. Much like with Verix Bladewing, I find that people consistently underrate the flexibility that kicker gives you to avoid stuffing your deck with so many cards that can't be played until the late game. Territorial Allosaurus gives green ramp decks something that's hard for them to access normally-removal-without being too far below the curve in its non-kicked form. I don't think that Territorial Allosaurus will shine until after rotation, but it's one of my favorite fliers in the $1 range right now.
Evra, Halcyon Witness is one of those cards that I'm always going to want to find room for in Commander, but I never actually will. It's too slow for Standard. Future bulk rare.
Mishra's Self-Replicator - $1
Mishra's Self-Replicator would be downright frightening at a lower CMC. At five, though, I can't imagine this one gets anywhere near a good competitive deck. Future bulk rare.
You don't really have to read past the part where this is a 4/4 for seven mana. Bulk rare.
Tempest Djinn - $1
Tempest Djinn is solid in a vacuum, but I can't imagine a mono-blue deck showing up in Standard any time soon. This one should drop to bulk and we can re-evaluate in a couple of months once we see what the next expansion brings.
If you ran the requirements for a red bulk rare through a neural network, you'd probably get something like Haphazard Bombardment. It might be a lot less elegant than this, but it wouldn't be any better. Bulk rare.
Verdant Force - $1
There was a time when Verdant Force was the best big green monster out there. That time was 1998. If you find a way back there, I suggest grabbing some cheap dual lands before your return to the future. Fun card, but bulk rare.
Uncommons Currently Selling For More than $1
- Damping Sphere - $5
- Cast Down - $2.50
- Song of Freyalise - $2
- Arvad the Cursed - $1.50
- Garna, the Bloodflame - $1.50
- Shanna, Sisay's Legacy - $1.50
- Slimefoot, the Stowaway - $1.50
- Tatyova, Benthic Druid - $1.50
Damping Sphere is the marquee uncommon right now, and I expect it to see a bunch of play in Modern. There are plenty of popular sideboard cards that are better against Tron, Storm, etc., but Damping Sphere is solid against a bunch of the format's best decks, and its versatility will allow it to shine. I wouldn't pay $5 for this, though; it's not going to see play in either Standard or Commander, so the price will come down considerably over the next couple of months.
Cast Down is going to be a Standard staple for a while, and it'll only get more important when Fatal Push rotates. $2.50 isn't really a bargain, but you can snag your copies now if you don't want to deal with having to open them or trade for them.
Song of Freyalise is quite powerful. I don't know if it'll see enough play to sustain a $2 price tag at uncommon, but it's fantastic in tokens decks so the potential is certainly there. There's no upside beyond $2, though, so I won't be buying in.
I'm not paying $1.50 for any of these uncommon legends. Enough packs of this set will be opened for these to drop to or below the $1 mark. They're great cards, but there's no reason to buy in now.
This Week's Trends
We had our first major Standard spike in weeks, with Combat Celebrant jumping into the double digits thanks to an excellent finish at Grand Prix Seattle. U/R God-Pharaoh's Gift looks like it has the legs to remain good through the release of Dominaria, though it might not be a popular choice for the FNM crowd to build from scratch since it rotates in the fall. If you want to go in on any of the secondary specs, I love Warkite Maurader since it's still very cheap and it won't be rotating in September. Walking Ballista is already quite expensive, but it sees enough Eternal play to remain high through rotation.
Staying with Standard, Dire Fleet Daredevil also continued to gain value this week. The play it sees in Modern Humans should be enough to keep it around $10, and it could flirt with $20 if it ends up finding a home in the next Standard environment. Your window to buy in the single digits is closing fast.
Over in Modern, Engineered Explosives continues to spike. I've talked about this card a couple of times over the past two weeks, and the fact that it hasn't been reprinted in forever while being an important sideboard play in B/R Hollow One means that it won't be losing value anytime soon. I expect it'll stabilize in the $80-$90 range for as long as Hollow One continues to be one of the best decks in Modern.
Also up this week: Goblin Guide. This spike is mostly because Skirk Prospector was printed in Dominaria, meaning that Modern Goblins might be a thing. Not only is Goblin Guide still a decent buy at current, but Goblin Piledriver is a sexy spec right now. It didn't take much for the card to double in price a couple months back, and this one's going to be a $15 card if Modern Goblins finishes anywhere near a Top 8.
Over in Legacy, another series of Reserved List spikes are hitting some of the top cards in the Mirage through Urza's Destiny-era sets. City of Traitors and Grim Monolith both saw major buyouts last week, and the sky remains the limit for these cards. I'll let you know when these spikes stop happening, but you might be waiting a while.
Lastly, it's worth mentioning that nearly all the Masterpieces are on the rise right now. These cards were relatively cheap back when it looked like Masterpieces would be appearing in almost every set, but they've started to climb now that it looks like WotC is pulling way back on their support for the project. The more special these feel, the more they'll be worth, and even unplayable Masterpieces like Meekstone are currently on the move. I'll do a full article on these for you soon, but for now it's worth picking up any Masterpieces that you think you'll need at any point over the next year or so.