Homelands has never been considered a very good set, but it seems that there is a card in the set with some value. With pretty much every card on Magic’s Reserved List a target, Koskun Falls has become yet another card that speculators are eating up. What makes this Black Enchantment so special?
Koskun Falls is basically very similar to Propaganda in Blue and Windborn Muse in White. The Blue Enchantment and White creature both offer the ability to protect you from opponent’s attacks by forcing your opponent to pay 2 colorless mana for each creature he or she attacks you with. Koskun Falls does just that, but for 4 mana instead of 3 and with an upkeep cost of tapping down one of your creatures.
Are there any decks that actually play this? In Commander, Daxos the Returned decks have taken advantage of its ability, especially since that deck has no trouble producing a token to tap down on a regular basis. It’s not an ability you usually expect from black, and while the upkeep cost can be annoying, it’s actually a pretty useful card in a deck that doesn’t ordinarily play Windborn Muse and can’t play Propaganda.
As a reserved list card, there aren’t any more of these being printed, so you can feel safe picking up any reasonably priced copies that you find.
Back to Basics is a very strong Enchantment from Urza’s Saga. It essentially shuts down all non-basic lands by not allowing them to be untapped during each player’s untap step. For mono-colored Blue decks such as Merfolk in Legacy, this has been in sideboards on and off over the year. Recent Top 8 decklists featuring 2 copies of Back to Basics in the sideboard have caused a massive surge in sales. In just over a month, Back to Basics went from $7 on average to over $24.
Quite interestingly, a Blade Control deck in Legacy that placed 7th at a major tournament actually ran two copies of Back to Basics in the main deck. Likewise, Miracle Control, a three-color deck, has been running 2 copies in the sideboard on a regular basis now. The Enchantment really is that powerful and played at the right time can stall out a game that you may otherwise have lost.
Is Back to Basics really worth $20 plus? Probably not. Considering that you can get slightly played copies for around $15 means that the price should return a bit to normal. It’s also important to consider that Back to Basics is not on the Reserved List. While it’s unlikely that this Enchantment will be reprinted any time soon, it could be. If you need this card, I’d consider paying the lower price for the lightly played copies. If you want to grab them for speculation purposes, I’d probably hold off since more copies are being listed on TCGPlayer for lower prices as the days go by. $10 seems like a fair price for this card.
MTG - Archers' Parapet - Khans of Tarkir Common Good in Doran the Siege Tower EDH Decks
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
When digging through your old Khans of Tarkir commons, you may have a copy of Archers’ Parapet, a 0/5 Defender creature that costs only 1G to cast. It also has an interesting tap ability for 1B to make each opponent lose 1 life. But the real power of this card is unlocked when played alongside popular Commander, Doran the Siege Tower. With Doran’s ability, creatures assign combat damage according to their toughness rather than their power. Essentially, the Parapet becomes a 5/5 for only 2 mana.
Enchantments such as Assault Formation and Rolling Stones will even allow Archers’ Parapet and other creatures with Defender to attack. While not the most exciting ability, the Parapet’s tap ability becomes better in multiplayer. While most copies of Archers' Parapet may be left behind in bulk boxes forever, it’s good to know that this creature can find a home in a fairly popular and quite competitive Commander deck.
by Richard Rowell, Gaming Successfully Staff
Guardian Beast is a creature from Arabian Nights that’s on Magic the Gathering’s Reserved List. This means that it’s not eligible to be reprinted in any future set or product. This Beast costs 3 colorless and 1 Black mana to cast. It has a rather full text box, so we’ll refer to the Oracle text to more concisely understand what it does:
As long as Guardian Beast is untapped, non-creature artifacts you control can’t be enchanted, they’re indestructible, and other players can’t gain control of them. This effect doesn’t remove Auras already attached to those artifacts.
In this card’s heyday, your Power 9 artifacts like the Mox cycle (zero-cost artifacts that tap for one color of mana) and Black Lotus (sacrifice it, get 3 of any color mana) were safe from anything that can destroy artifacts. It also kept your opponent from stealing any of them. While there are Commander decks today that could have fun with this card, black isn’t one of the primary colors for artifacts. What mostly keeps it from seeing EDH play is its sky-high price tag ($100-150). It’s a nice card to have around, but only for collectibility.
Notably, Guardian Beast was once given out as an oversized promo card. They are quite rare. While you can’t play them in a deck, they are another piece of Magic history that the serious MTG collector would love to have.
Slayer’s Plate seems very underrated as an Equipment. While this Shadows Over Innistrad rare has been pretty much bulk since its release, there seems to be a lot of power here. While probably not competitively playable due to requiring 3 mana just to cast and another 3 to equip, it does provide a 4/2 boost. If the equipped creature dies, and it was a Human, you get a 1/1 flying Spirit token into play.
The reason I like this card is that in Commander, there are decks that can often equip it for free. Also, being able to throw this on a flying 1/1 token seems strong to me. Heck, even if this is equipped to a Human token, you still get the 1/1 flying Spirit. So far, it seems that Sigarda, Heron’s Grace is the only Commander deck to use it somewhat regularly. There are plenty of Commanders, especially ones that play plenty of Humans, that should want this card. As a bulk rare, I really like this as a pickup.
by Richard Rowell, Gaming Successfully Staff
Gleeful Sabotage has been a good card in Pauper on Magic Online for quite some time. Recently, despite not seeing much in the way of other competitive play, this Shadowmoor common went from being $0.25 to $0.50 in late April 2016 on TCGPlayer. It continued to steadily rise towards $1 until doubling up to nearly $2 in early July 2016. What’s the story of this price spike?
There aren’t many $2 commons in Magic, but Shadowmoor is a set that has a few valuable commons. Gleeful Sabotage is also a fairly underrated card. The fact that it can easily destroy two targets quite easily for only 2 mana, due to its Conspire effect, makes it pretty efficient. It can be even better with the more creatures you control. Honestly, it’s a bit of a surprise that it doesn’t see much Modern play, but maximizing its usefulness requires you to run a lot of green creatures. Mono-Green Aggro is a real deck in Modern, but not one that has made great waves.
Obviously, there’s enough demand for Gleeful Sabotage, though, that it’s close to selling out just about everywhere. There’s another printing, albeit quite limited, from one of the Archenemy decks. This is a common that could be reprinted in the future, but having the Conspire mechanic limits where exactly it could be printed. Whatever you do, don’t pass these by if you happen about them in some random box of commons. I wouldn’t go out and pay $8 for a playset of these, though. Regular vendors still see this as well under $1. But it’s good to know that this is a card worth watching.
MTG Weekly Losers - July 1st, 2016
by Richard Rowell, Gaming Successfully Staff
This week on Weekly Losers, we take a look at three Modern playables, one of which is a card whose price seems to be driven by pure speculation. Notable price drops in Standard, however, are Pyromancer’s Goggles (-7.5%) and Deathmist Raptor (-6%). I wouldn’t expect either card to rebound with the upcoming October 2016 rotation, so if you want these cards, they probably may fall a bit further before they hit their all-time low.
Onto the Weekly Losers:
Sakura-Tribe Scout (-7%)
There’s pretty low supply on this common and it’s been over $1 for a bit. Besides being a decent card in EDH, the Scout has seen some play as a replacement for the banned Summer Bloom in Modern Amulet Bloom decks. I haven’t seen this strategy pay off, as one extra land versus three is quite a big difference. However, I wouldn’t mind picking these up under $1 in trade or if you happen to find them among bulk commons at your local game shop.
This Enchantment is Modern Legal due to its Timeshifted printing in Time Spiral. The recent success of this card comes purely from EDH demand. In particular, Reaper King decks are rather fond of it, making every creature a Scarecrow. Reaper King makes each Scarecrow that comes into play destroy any permanent you like. There are other applications, too. Falling about 7 percent in TCGPlayer median price isn’t a concern. If you need a copy for EDH, now’s as good a time to get it.
Hell’s Caretaker (-11%)
This 9th edition Horror has seen some serious peaks and valleys in his price chart. Years ago, he was part of a rather janky combo in the now defunct Extended format. But the interest in him now is due to the number of Horrors that exist now because of Shadows Over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon. It’s pretty much all speculative. Caretaker is also good in Old School Magic, a format that includes only cards printed in 1994 and before. But this would only affect the Legends printing, not the 9th edition one. This is one of those weird specs. I’m not sure I’d buy into it, but the demand is real. The market price on TCGPlayer is consistently beating the median, meaning the price will be trending upwards.
Like all of the Weekly Losers so far, these three cards seem safe to buy if you need them for any reason. While they don’t look like huge investments, Hell’s Caretaker is at least intriguing.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Empty the Pits may be a bulk mythic rare, but it has its uses. It requires quite a mana investment, but with Delve in the late game, you can whip out a ton of Zombie tokens. While a bit too resource intensive for Standard and other competitive formats, Empty the Pits has become a useful card in the toolbox for several top Commanders.
Part of a Win Condition or a “Win More” Card?
Maga, Traitor to Mortals may not be the most popular of mono-Black Commanders. But he is a popular and powerful Legendary creature who already has access to powerful mana doublers such as Extraplanar Lens and Nirkana Revenant. Empty the Pits is a good backup plan for Maga. He is usually intent on casting a huge Exsanguinate (which affects all players) or Profane Command (Hits only one player but provides a second effect as well). Maga can even kill a player in one shot with his own life loss ability. Being able to cast a huge zombie army to hold the line and potentially finish off stragglers is a fine plan B.
Sidisi, Brood Tyrant is the most played Commander that has co-opted the services of this Zombie army building delve spell. Already a master of her own Zombie horde, Sidisi clearly subscribes to the plan of never being able to have enough zombies. Empty the Pits feels like a bit of a win more card, but if Sidisi ever finds herself behind on the battlefield, this at the very least can be a great equalizer.
Ghoulcaller Gisa is a mono Black Commander who has steadily gained in popularity over the years. She's yet another Commander with a Zombie horde at her back. In her case, though, she's most interested in sacrificing bigger creatures to net herself more zombies. Again, empty the pits seems like a win more card. But for builds around Gisa that are purely on the overwhelm your opponent with zombies and zombie lords, this is a spell that can serve your army well with much needed reinforcements for the end game.
Tasigur, the Golden Fang is another moderately popular commander that has fooled around with Emptying the Pits on occasion. Tasigur is most interested in getting multiple uses out of his value spells and creatures. The best use for empty the pits for him is almost purely for the delve aspect. With Tasigur’s card recursion ability being random, filtering out irrelevant spells is welcome. Empty the Pits makes it so they can be exiled to fuel the summoning of a few Zombie friends. While it's not a perfect fit in his strategy, it's worth consideration.
Finding the Best Fit
Being Mono Black commanders, Maga and Gisa have access to Cabal Coffers and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. This makes paying for Empty the Pits a lot easier and can make the sheer number of tokens game ending. The 4 black mana symbols make this instant trickier to cast outside of mono Black. These two commanders are probably the easiest fit as far as easiness to cast.
Empty the Pits is often paired with cards such as Endless Ranks of the Dead and Unbreathing Horde, both of which greatly benefit from having a mass of zombies on the board. Even better is that empty the pits being at instant speed means that when you untap, if you have Endless Ranks on board, you get 50 percent more zombies. Lord of the Undead and especially Undead Warchief pump up your zombie army to lethal levels.
Ghoulcaller Gisa plays all of these aforementioned cards on a regular basis, along with the zombie spewing sorcery Army of the Damned. Therefore, this is easily the commander who has the most synergy with Empty the Pits. Other Zombie commanders such as the blue black Grimgrin, Corpse Born and the mono black Mikaeus the Unhallowed can certainly use Empty the Pits, but typically have more efficient combos to end the game.
Empty the Pits is definitely worth keeping around if you plan on playing any sort of Zombie themed deck. If not, it's still worth holding onto for the long term as a mythic rare that should always hold some casual interest.
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