by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
FTV: Lore is perhaps the strangest From the Vault set that Magic the Gathering has ever released. While most FTV sets have a clear theme, the criteria for this set seems extremely loose. Each card in the set, according to Wizards of the Coast, has a story behind it.
The rationale for each card's inclusion is mentioned in Wizards of the Coast's official From the Vault: Lore feature article. As you’ll see when we go over each card, there are some extremely valuable cards in this set. There are some bizarre inclusions, but let’s take a look, and you can decide for yourself if it’s worth shelling out well above the MSRP to get these shiny, foil cards.
Beseech the Queen
The story behind Beseech the Queen is Oona, Queen of the Fae. She’s a very popular Legendary Creature from Shadowmoor. As it happens, Beseech the Queen is also a very good card. It’s one of the stranger tutors in the game, as it can only search a card with a converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of lands you control. It also has a strange hybrid cost by which you can trade off paying a black mana for 2 colorless mana. This weirdness makes it a card with a converted mana cost of 6 despite only costing three black mana.
Beseech the Queen is actually played quite a bit in Commander. While that’s the only format it’s really played in, it’s played enough that the original Shadowmoor printing (as well as the short-run Planechase reprint) was a $4 uncommon and a $9 foil before this FTV set release. Being an FTV foil, it shouldn’t hurt the original foil price much. The non-foil sets the price floor for this very useful Sorcery-speed tutor. It shouldn't drop much below $3 in the long run.
Magic’s Odyssey block was all about the Cabal. With new art, this printing of Cabal Ritual is the first (in paper) since its original printing in Torment. It still sees play in Legacy Storm and Ad Nauseam Tendrils decks even today, and it gets enough play in Commander that this was a $2 common. The FTV printing pre-ordered north of $8, competing with the original foil printing which was about $16 as of this set’s announcement.
What makes this card so good is the Threshold mechanic. Usually, it’s just a Dark Ritual for an extra colorless mana, giving you three black mana in exchange for one colorless and one Black. But if you have at least 7 cards in your graveyard, you get 5 Black Mana for the same cost. That’s a pretty good deal. Still being so relatively rare, the common will stay above $1, but the FTV foil should probably cut at least in half to about $4.
One of the stranger cards in the set, Conflux has seen some fringe Legacy play, and sees more Commander play than people might realize. As far as lore goes, Conflux makes a lot of sense since it directly refers to the Shards of Alara being reunited as one world.
Paying 8 total mana to tutor up 5 different cards is really powerful, and while each has to be a different color, in 5 color decks it’s extremely useful.
The price history for the early returns on FTV: Lore for Conflux were actually pretty strange. Despite the original printing being $4 in non-foil and $12 in foil, pre-orders for Conflux sat around $2-3. If this is a card you’d actually use, this would be the printing to get. Copies of this printing will easily reach $1, so it's a really good pickup if you plan to use this card.
Dark Depths / Marit Lage
Easily the most valuable card in the set, Dark Depths is definitely worthy of being in a Lore-based set. This land doesn’t provide mana, but it can summon one of the most powerful creatures in all of Magic: Marit Lage. The FTV usefully provides the Marit Lage token, depicting the 20/20 indestructible flier in all of her glory.
As difficult as it looks to actually summon her by removing all of the ice counters, there are much easier ways. One way is to remove all of the counters by using the sacrifice ability of Vampire Hexmage. The other option is to copy Dark Depths with Thespian’s Stage, a land that can copy any other land. There aren’t many ways to destroy an indestructible flier, so if you can summon Marit Lage, you pretty much win the game.
Because of how good it is in Legacy and Commander, Dark Depths is a highly sought after card. With a fairly low supply, previously you had to shell out $60 for a single non-foil copy. Original Coldsnap foils were close to $200 and like in most cases with FTV foils, probably won't be affected much long term.
Because the FTV foils tend to not be favored by many players, you were able to get an FTV Lore copy for closer to $40 at release. This is the card that most people will buy this set in order to get and should settle around $20 to $30.
Glissa the Traitor
Glissa Sunseeker has a sad story, culminating with being corrupted by the Phyrexian invasion of Mirrodin. Glissa the Traitor was actually a pretty good creature during her time in Standard and has continued to be pretty good as a Commander and in the Commander format in general.
Her ability is pretty solid, allowing you to get an artifact back from your graveyard whenever an opponent’s creature dies. Her useful ability has actually allowed her to see play in Legacy, where she is a sideboard option in Maverick decks to retrieve useful artifacts such as Umezawa’s Jitte (also in FTV: Lore), Sword of Fire and Ice, Batterskull, and others.
Were she not a widely available Mirrodin Besieged pre-release promo, her original mythic rare printing would be a lot more than $3. The set foil was still $8 even after this card was revealed. This printing won't be worth much more than $2 in the long-term. I’d take the pre-release promo over this printing if you’re looking for long-term value. This is a good card to have, though.
Yes, Helvault definitely fits into the Lore theme. Planeswalker Sorin Markov built it to trap Demons, including Griselbrand. Sadly, this card is just not good. Still, the Helvault is an artifact that can actually save your creatures from removal and is an expensive way to remove problem opponent’s creatures. Used properly, Helvault can actually do some work in Commander. But it’s not very efficient.
Still, there are some cute things you can do with it. For example, Zirilan the Claw is a popular Mono-Red Commander for Dragons. Zirilan’s downside is that you have to remove whichever Dragon you summoned with his ability at the end of that same turn. But with the Helvault, you actually can exile it and potentially get it back later when the Helvault goes to the graveyard. There are some other interactions that make it at least serviceable. But, overall, Helvault is one of the worst mythic rares ever printed. It's going to be under $1 for the long haul, no matter how pretty this foil looks.
One of the main characters of the original Mirrodin storyline, Memnarch is quite a popular Commander. He’s actually one of the most hated because of his ability to turn any permanent into an artifact and subsequently steal it. He’s got quite a story, too, so he definitely belongs in this set.
This isn’t Memnarch’s first reprint, in fact. He was previously printed in an Archenemy deck. The original non-foil printings ran about $8 and the foil printing about $23. Pre-orders for FTV Memnarch ran about $8. Obviously, this card has plenty of demand to command such a decently high price floor.
This printing is the cheapest way to get a foil copy if you don’t mind the alternative From the Vault foiling process. It should settle around $4, with the non-foil taking a slight hit.
A lot of players weren’t thrilled about Mind’s Desire being included in the set. But this is a very powerful card if played correctly, especially in Commander. It also has the story of the legendary artifact Mirari behind it. Still, it’s a pretty inexpensive card from Scourge, at least in non-foil. However, due to the Commander playability, Scourge foils run as high as $17. So this is a really nice foil alternative for under $5. The new art is also awesome.
The From the Vault printing of Mind’s Desire has greatly increased interest in this card, so it’s definitely one that even non-Commander players may want to hold onto for long-term value. Heck, it’s been played in some Vintage brews, so there’s a lot of power to realize with this card. Playing cards for free is always good, by the way. You should be able to get a copy of this card for $2 in the long run, which is solid value.
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary
This is the one card we knew we were getting when FTV: Lore was first announced because of the new art that obviously depicted the Elf Wizard. Not only is he responsible for his own Magic Online format, Momir Basic, but he was a major part of the Ravnica storyline.
The new art for Momir Vig excellent and he’s as powerful a Commander as ever. It’s probably a good thing that this reprint exists, as his non-foil price was pushing $8 and his foil price around $25 before this reprint. This is a less expensive printing and the art is great. Long-term, it was expected that this will probably going to be almost as sought after as Dark Depths. (The price has fallen to around $3-4 since the set's release, which is a BARGAIN for this guy.)
What makes Momir Vig so great? He essentially can tutor up any creature you want and get it right into your hand. All you have to do is play a green spell first, then a blue spell. If you play a spell that’s both green and blue, you get both abilities at the same time. He’s the ultimate toolbox Commander in colors that have lots of creatures with strong abilities. People who love Elfball combo decks will want to play with this guy in Commander if they never have before. Now he’s somewhat easier to get, too, which means newer players get an easier crack at acquiring him.
Financially, Near-Death Experience isn’t going to move the needle much. It’s a bulk rare. But lore-wise, this is a card which depicts the bare survival of Zendikar from the first assault of the Eldrazi titans, so it belongs. It’s an extremely niche card, though.
Selenia, Dark Angel decks in Commander try to use this as a win condition. You can build a combo Constructed deck around it, albeit an extremely janky one.
(Of course, Saffron Olive built a deck with this card and another Enchantment called Karma in his Against the Odds video series on MTG Goldfish. This Near-Death Karma deck actually almost won half of its games, believe it or not.)
As win conditions go, this is one of the more difficult ones to pull off, but you get major style points for doing so. Still, this is a card that probably didn’t need a FTV treatment.
This card chronicles the mass destruction the master wizard Barrin unleashed upon Tolaria during the Invasion block after the death of his wife Rayne and daughter Hanna. Obliterate is also an extremely hated card in Commander.
Obliterate has another printing, albeit white-bordered, in 8th Edition, which has kept the price of the non-foil versions around $3. The foils are around $10. The FTV printing pre-ordered around $4, but should settle at less than half of that. This is a good way to get a foil version of a solid Commander board-wipe.
(2017 Update: This card has also been seen as a one-of in some builds of Modern Skred Red.)
What would a Magic set all about Lore be without a Phyrexian card? Phyrexian Processor was an interesting choice, but it’s because it represents Yawgmoth’s obsession with perfecting all lifeforms under his control. It’s actually a fairly good card, especially if you can pay a whole bunch of life when it enters the battlefield. However, it doesn’t see competitive play at all anymore. It does, however, have plenty of utility in some Commander decks.
Interestingly enough, the Commander that uses the Processor the most is Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice. That’s not a deck you’d expect to run a Phyrexian card. However, those Minion tokens being copied by Trostani's Populate ability is pretty nifty.
The Commander that uses the Processor the second most is actually Oloro, Ageless Ascetic, mostly because of the ridiculous amount of life he gains you over time. With Oloro, you can dump most of your life into the Processor early on and be beating down with massive Minion tokens for the rest of the game. This is a good card. Now that it’s gotten its first foil treatment, it may actually see a lot more Commander play.
Financially, both the Urza's Saga and Duel Deck: Phyrexia vs the Coalition printings ran about $3. The FTV foil ran about the same for a while, but it should be a $1 card in the long-run. Because this version exists, and the demand isn't very high, the other printings will probably see their values cut in half.
A super useful utility land, Tolaria West is also an important part of Magic lore. It’s where the Magic Academy was rebuilt after the destruction of the island Tolaria by the aforementioned grieving wizard Barrin who is depicted on Obliterate. Originally from Future Sight, this is the only land with the Transmute mechanic in the game. Why would you want to transmute a land? Well, first of all, you can get any 0-cost card in the game, including other lands.
This card actually sees a fair amount of competitive play in Modern Ad Nauseum decks in order to search up Pact of Negation, Slaughter Pact, Lotus Bloom, or Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. It’s extremely good in Commander, too, which is why it became a $5 card. The original Future Sight foils run $20 or so and the FTV preorder was for about $11. This land is always going to be good and it will only get better with time. But price-wise, this printing of Tolaria West should be under $5 in the long-term.
The “other” great card in the set, Umezawa’s Jitte has been banned in Standard before, and was banned in Modern with the inception of the format. It’s a staple in a lot of Legacy decks and does a lot of work in Commander, too.
Despite being originally available in a Betrayers of Kamigawa theme deck, the Jitte has been an expensive card for a long time. Its only other reprint was as a Grand Prix reprint, but was actually reprinted as a promo on Magic Online, too, as well as in an online only Theme Deck. Only about $4 on Magic Online, it was still a $30 card in paper when this set released. This awesome Equipment, along with Dark Depths, are no doubt what sells the set.
What makes the Jitte so good is just how versatile it is. Perhaps gaining two charge counters and only having to remove one to get one of its three abilities made it just a bit too good. But considering that Umezawa was one of the main characters of the entire Kamigawa block, perhaps it was appropriate to be such a strong card.
In the long run, expect this printing of the Jitte to settle around $15-20.
Never heard of Unmask? It’s actually a pretty good card. It’s actually been a staple in Legacy Reanimator as a way to empty your opponent’s hand of any big threats to your reanimation spells. It’s actually a pitch card, which means you can cast it for free by removing a black card from your hand from the game. It’s a $4 rare from Mercadian Masques, but foils are $38! The FTV foil is pre-ordering for about $10, which is a lot more reasonable.
On Magic Online, this card was so rare that it was almost $40 a copy for the non-foil version! The release of this FTV will actually help lower that price. Was the high price on Magic Online the reason for including this? While that would seem to make sense, Wizards doesn’t put cards in FTV sets for that purpose.
There is in fact a story behind Unmask from the Mercadian Masques storyline. It had to do with the shapeshifter Volrath transforming back into himself after murdering the father of one of his prisoners. I’m not sure that many players care about that particular story now, just the actual playability of the card. In any case, it’s a fairly valuable card that is a solid inclusion in this set.
(2017 update: The From the Vault printing of this card actually greatly increased the awareness of this card. While the FTV printing remains $8, the original non-foil printing is over $12 and the foils pushing $80! It really only sees competitive play now in Vintage on Magic Online, so I’m not sure where all the copies have gone!)
Overall, there are two cards in the set north of $20, Dark Depths and Umezawa’s Jitte. There are a few card that pre-ordered for over $10 and many over $5. At the set release, the TCG Player market value of the individual cards (including the Marit Lage token) was about $140. Granted, the values of the cards won’t remain that high, but it gives you an idea of how good the cards themselves in this set are on their own. Considering the quality of most of the cards, a fair value for this set will probably end up around $75. You may be able to find a copy of the set for around $50-60, however, so it could be a strong value if you really need the top cards in the set.
While it’s a strange selection of cards, From the Vault: Lore is a good set to buy. Outside of Helvault and Near-Death Experience, these are all cards that see a fair amount of Commander or Legacy play. Because of this set, many will now be more affordable. True, many players don’t like the alternative foiling process of FTV cards that sometimes causes them to be curled right out of the box. Also, some card sleeves will stick to the foiling, badly damaging the cards. These issues aside, FTV: Lore is one of the better From the Vault products that has been released.
Order your copy of the FTV: Lore box set from Amazon
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by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
From the Vault: Angels was anticipated for quite some time from casual and competitive players alike. While Wizards has disappointed a bit in the past with former From the Vault products, I’m overall pleased with the additions in this set. There are some questionable inclusions, but as far as players getting what they want, I think this set is not bad at all.
This set is an amazing deal for $35 at MSRP. But considering the value of what’s in here, it will probably never be that low. You’d be lucky to find a set at $80 right now. There’s good reason for this, as soon as we get into the cards.
For the sake of simplicity, we’ll just go in alphabetical order and I’ll grade their inclusions in the set.
Akroma, Angel of Fury & Akroma, Angel of Wrath
We knew that Angel of Fury and Angel of Wrath would be in this set very early on due to the spoiling of the gorgeous art (as always) by Terese Nielsen. Neither sees competitive play anymore, but both Angels are players in Commander and are definitely casual favorites. These alternate art foils will be awesome investments for a long time.
Grade: B (A on Art, C on playability)
Archangel of Strife
Previously a Commander exclusive, this Archangel really sees little play outside of Kaalia of the Vast and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight decks. (Gisela is a notable non-inclusion in this set, though Kaalia’s absence is more explainable, being a Commander’s Arsenal foil before.)
While the effect is kind of cool, she’s not really going to be very sought after, although the foil will be nice for serious Angel collectors.
Grade: C (not often played, but the foil goodness means something)
Aurelia the Warleader
The Gatecrash Legendary’s foils have been creeping up for a long time (to about $20) and being the force that she is in Commander, she’s an excellent inclusion here. She was actually relevant in Standard for a time, but is a bit high on the curve to be relevant in Modern. Most of her value comes from Commander, where she’s a solid general and even better as one of the 99.
Grade: A (she was a must-include)
Avacyn, Angel of Hope
One of the iconic white cards in Commander, making all your stuff indestructible is just pure awesome sauce. She was the card that just had to be in the set, the Angel to top all other Angels. Here she is in foiled glory. Considering how expensive set foils of Avacyn are, this is a good way to get a shiny copy - albeit not quite the same as a set foil, but still good.
Once one of the best cards in Standard, the Baneslayer was once $100 a copy. While not nearly the force in Modern or other formats that she once was, the Baneslayer is super playable in Commander. Still a $15 card in non-foil, despite having two core set printings, this foil will be one of the more valuable cards in the set.
Grade: A- (This printing hurts set foils, but is such an awesome Angel card, that it was an auto-include. Even with only Commander play today, it’s still a strong card.)
Entreat the Angels
A super-sweet Miracle card, this is a Legacy staple in the highly competitive Miracles deck. It also slots into about a billion Commander decks. This was a card a lot of people hoped would be in here. Set foils are about $35 (as of this writing), so this is certainly one of the more valuable cards in the set
Grade: A (Legacy and Commander staple)
This is one of the more peculiar inclusions in this From the Vault. The new art is gorgeous, although I love the original classic art, too. This is this Angel’s first printing in a modern border, yet the wording on her was not changed to simply read Lifelink. This is because her ability uses the stack, whereas Lifelink does not. This means if you also give her lifelink, you gain double the life.
The fact that she’s a Morph creature is kind of cool. This isn’t one of the more popular casual Angels, but she was good back in the Onslaught days. In fact, she was part of a World Championship deck! She has a sweet DCI judge promo printing, too. Since this has different art from her previous printings, this is a nice collectible card.
Grade: B- (Included for historical purposes and has that sweet new art)
Iona, Shield of Emeria
OK, we probably didn’t need another Iona printing so soon after Modern Masters 2015, but this alternate art is simply sick. She is, of course, one of the most devastating Angels of all time, shutting off an entire color for your opponents. She was an auto-include because when you think of Angels, you think of Avacyn and Iona.
Grade: A+ (That art is sick, and she’s a competitive card in Modern and absolutely horrifying to deal with in Commander)
I prefer the classic art of this card, but the new art is gorgeous in its own way. But this isn’t an Angel you’ll see very much outside of casual Angel decks. Being a 4/4 with flying and protection from all colors seems pretty sweet, but at 7 mana, what are you going to do with her? Sure you could load her up with colorless equipment and go to town, but there are better beaters out here. This is one of the weaker inclusions in the set
Grade: C- (The art is really nice, but she’s not super exciting)
Jenara, Asura of War
Jenara is such an awesome Commander and Wizards hit the nail on the head knowing that players wanted this gal. Her decks tend to be basically Bant “Good Stuff” playing all the best cards in White, Blue, and Green. She has also played second fiddle to Rafiq of the Many, one of the most aggressive commanders of all time. But Jenara is a great Angel that many newer players probably don’t know about and they’ll be happy to take her for a spin.
Grade: A (Not relevant in competitive formats, but is a Commander all-star)
While the colorless angel probably didn’t need yet another printing (it’s been in 4 sets before now), you’re looking at a Modern and Legacy staple that already an affordable foil printing (about $15). That being said, this is an iconic Angel that also has plenty of casual appeal and is played in a wide variety of Commander decks.
Grade: A- (Didn’t really need another foil printing, but people will still want this, of course.)
Tariel, Reckoner of Souls
This is probably one of my favorite picks of all in this From the Vault. A very good Commander that has only seen one printing, Tariel was due for a foil treatment (besides the oversized foil, of course). The random nature of her reanimation ability makes her a lot of fun in a multiplayer environment. Being in Red, Black, and White is awesome, too, since those colors are fairly underrepresented in Commander. Like Jenara, Commander players are jumping for joy at this inclusion, and it’s hard to say what foils of this Angel will become.
Grade: A (Needed a foil printing eventually and now it’s going to be in a lot more hands)
This inclusion probably makes some people groan, but you can’t have a From the Vault: Angels without Serra Angel. Not only is she an iconic card, but she was once one of the best creatures in the entire game early on. In every Core Set she’s appeared in, she’s always done work in Limited. And in Commander, Angel tribal decks always include her. A vigilant 4/4 flyer for 5 mana is still perfectly fine. The classic looking art is awesome, and while you won’t see her outside of casual Angel Tribal decks, the demand is there for her, even if she’s only a $5 foil.
Grade: B (Had to be in here for historical purposes, and the art is excellent)
Rounding out all the grades, we come to an overall B+ for the set. The only card that seems to be missing here is Linvala, Keeper of Silence. While Linvala is a crushing card out of the sideboard in Modern and has plenty of homes in Commander, her ability is one that probably wouldn’t appeal to the casual crowd. You could make a case for her inclusion, but her being included would skyrocket the secondary market price and put it out of reach for a lot of people that would otherwise buy the set.
If this set is going to be selling for about $80-100, that seems fair. Avacyn and Iona will make up most of that value. Entreat the Angels and Platinum Angel are actively played competitively, so while not the money that the other two are, they’ll help sell the set. Since a lot of these cards are alternate art, that will help keep up the value of these newer foils.
Personally, I think this set is a win. How do you feel about it? Are there are other cards you would’ve liked to see in the set?
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Armageddon is one of the oldest cards in Magic, hearkening all the way back to Limited Edition Alpha and being reprinted up through Sixth Edition. Most recently, it was included in the From the Vault: Annihilation limited edition product as a foil variant for the first time. It is still the most powerful land destruction spell in the entire game, costing a mere three and one White mana. Pay four mana and there goes every land in play.
It’s still a very, very powerful card, and there are mean Commander players that will play it in combination with cards like Faith’s Reward that allow you to bring back every permanent that you had sent to the graveyard during that turn. If you happen to have copies of this card lying around, be sure to keep them safe and away from people that may want to use them against you!
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Today, we look at a Legendary Land that was originally printed in Urza’s Saga, Shivan Gorge. The From the Vault: Realms version has some fantastic artwork, but overall, it’s a fairly underwhelming card. It can tap for one colorless mana or it has a second ability that for 2 and a Red plus a tap, Shivan Gorge deals 1 damage to each opponent.
In a multi-player environment in which you may need a mana sink here and there, it’s certainly usable. Also, as it’s a Legendary Land, you can only have one out on the board at a time (although with the new Legendary rule, other players can control their own single copy). In a burn-based Commander deck, Shivan Gorge is certainly an option, but otherwise, it’s just a pretty non-basic land.
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