So far, we’ve opened a Dominaria booster pack that felt really bad, and on the flip side, we’ve opened a clearly profitable set of 6 Battlebond booster packs in anticipation of a preview event. We’ve opened the two latest sets. Now, let’s take a look at a set that’s going to be in Standard just as long as Dominaria, but is at peak supply and has fairly low demand.
We’ll turn to Mtgen.net, probably one of the best random pack generators out there for Magic the Gathering. Here’s our first virtual pack of Ixalan we’re cracking. What treasure will we discover on our Perilous Journey… if any?
What’s Good in This Ixalan Booster Pack?
There are actually two Modern-playable uncommons in this pack! The third uncommon is playable, as are a couple of the commons! Unlike our first Dominaria pack on this Value series, this is actually a darn good booster pack from a playability and a financial perspective. Also, like Dominaria, Ixalan cards have the same Standard shelf life and don’t rotate from Standard in October of 2018. Hurray!
Also, where our Dominaria booster pack was not really worth looking at card by card from a financial standpoint, even with a bulk rare in this pack, we’ll actually look at each card individually! This pack is that good!
First we look at Dive Down, a one-mana Blue Instant. With a TCGPlayer market price of $0.07, you’re probably unexcited. But, like a couple other cards in this pack, it’s seen Modern play! What’s so great about it? It gives target creature +0/+3 and hexproof until end of turn. It’s actually popped up in a Kiln Fiend/Enigma Drake Modern deck that’s actually really competitive. Not only does this card protect your key creatures from removal with hexproof, it gives a toughness boost. It also makes Kiln Fiend a lot bigger, +3/+0. You want this card in your collection, even if it’s never more than $0.25 retail.
Hijack is a three-mana sorcery worth $0.03 at market. It’s a reprint from Kalsdesh. It lets you gain control of target creature or artifact and give it haste until end of turn. Basically, it’s Act of Treason, but it can steal an artifact, such as a Vehicle. While it’s a penny card, it’s seen Standard play in the past in Red/Green Energy. It’s also going to be good in the Brawl Commander format, the 60-card Commander variant with only Standard-legal cards being pushed by Wizards. It’s worth a hold.
Kinjalli’s Caller is a $0.04 common, but don’t be fooled by that nickel price. This little gal is a 0/3 and reduces the casting cost of your Dinosaurs by one colorless mana. Not only do the Callers hold the ground well, but having multiple copies in play makes for some cheap Dinos. Any Brawl Commander or traditional Commander deck based around Dinos like this. It’s not Standard playable now, but it could be. While she may never be more than $0.25, she’s a nifty creature to have.
New Horizons is another $0.04 common, but this is a card that’s seen a little Standard play. It was a three-of in a grindy cycling deck based around Faith of the Devoted. However, this card actually does a couple of neat things. This Enchantment can enchant any land. When it does, you put a +1/+1 counter on a target creature you control. Then, the enchanted land can tap for two mana of any one color to your mana pool. That’s a lot of work for a three-mana common. Some Pauper deck may break it some day, and it could be good in a future Standard deck. It’s just a solid common.
Pirate’s Prize is a $0.03 common that’s actually pretty good in Limited. For four mana (3U) you draw 2 cards and create a Treasure token that can be sacrificed to add any color of mana to your mana pool. The best place for this in Constructed is Brawl Commander or Commander decks that are built around Pirates and it’s pretty fringe at that. It’s not the greatest Constructed card, and it’s bulk.
Pounce is a $0.03 common that may be sideboard material at some point in Standard. For two-mana (1G) target creature you control fights target creature you don’t control. In other words, each creature deals damage equal to its power to the other. It’s probably bulk, though.
Ravenous Daggertooth is a Dino and Dinos are cool. But this $0.03 Dino is pretty underwhelming. He’s a 3/2 for 2G, and he has an Enrage ability that activates whenever he’s dealt damage. But all it does is gain you 2 life. He’s bulk, although he may be in some Dino Tribal Commander decks.
Siren's Ruse is actually pretty good in a Pirate deck. Alas, Pirates haven’t yet taken off in Standard, so this is $0.03. But exiling a target creature you control and immediately returning it ot the battlefield for two mana is good. Not only can you get repeated enter-the-battlefield triggers and protect your creatures from removal, but if you remove a Pirate this way, you get to draw a card. It’s actually a really good Tribal card and a better Blue version of Momentary Blink. I’d hold onto this one.
Spreading Rot destroys a land for 5 mana (4B) and its controller loses 2 life. It’s cool in Limited, but it’s worth a mere penny. Pure bulk.
Sun-Crowned Hunters is a 6-mana Dino, sure, but like the Daggertooth, it’s worth $0.03. However, his Enrage ability is better. Whenever he’s dealt damage, he deals 3 damage to target opponent. But for 6 mana that’s not all that great. Bulky bulk.
We move from the commons, most of which are actually pretty good, to the uncommons, which are better. A lot better.
Kitesail Freebooter may have a market price of only $0.56, but this creature was $0.75 or $1 not that long ago. The 1 / 2 flying Freebooter is playable in Modern Humans, as well as some other Standard decks. When she enters the battlefield, target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a noncreature, nonland card from it and exile that card until Freebooter leaves the field. It’s a nifty creature, and she’s just always going to be good. She doesn’t need a Pirate deck to be good to be good, which definitely helps her cause. Her value will go back up, especially if Pirates become actually competitive in Standard (unlikely, but you never know).
Kumena's Speaker has a really low price tag of $0.08, but she’s a Modern-playable Merfolk. She gains +1/+1 as long as you control another Merfolk or an Island. While she costs a single Green mana to cast, Blue/Green Merfolk are getting better all the time. It’s hard to say what the Speaker’s future value is, but this is a good card.
Perilous Voyage is much better than the $0.05 market price would suggest. This two-mana instant has actually seen play in Legacy. It returns target nonland permanent you don’t control to its owner’s hand. If that permanent’s converted mana cost is 2 or less, you scry 2. This is actually a pretty good control card, and it could see more Standard play in the future.
The final card is the rare, Fell Flagship. The Kaladesh vehicles have been so good that some of those from Ixalan have been overshadowed. However, unlike a lot of rares considered bulk, the Flagship has a market price of almost a quarter. The reason this card is so cheap is because this vehicle was made purely for Pirates.
The Fell Flagship only costs 3 mana to cast and gives all Pirates you control +1/+1. Also, whenever Fell Flagship deals combat damage to a player, that player discards a card. The Crew cost of 3 isn’t bad, as it’s not hard to find 3 power in a Pirate deck, especially with that power and toughness boost. This card is totally dependant on Pirates being competitive or at least semi-competitive in Standard. But you don’t want to build a Pirate deck without one, which is why it’s worth anything. It’s a bulk rare, but one worth holding for awhile.
So, what’s the final tally on this pack? It can’t be any worse than the $0.61 pack from Dominaria we “opened” before...
Market Prices (as of 5/29/18)
Kitesail Freebooter $0.56
Fell Flagship $0.22
Kumena’s Speaker $0.08
Dive Down $0.07
Perilous Voyage $0.05
Kinjalli’s Caller $0.04
New Horizons $0.04
Pirate’s Prize $0.03
Ravenous Daggertooth $0.03
Siren’s Ruse $0.03
Sun-Crowned Hunters $0.03
Spreading Rot $0.01
What’s Our Pack Value? $1.25
That sounds terrible! On the surface, it is a poor return on buying a booster pack. However, take into account that these are market prices. Many of these cards have already seen some competitive play of some kind. Those that haven’t simply haven’t had a chance in the current Standard meta-game. A couple have even seen play in Modern, and that’s not nothing.
The future value of this pack is much higher. If any of those cards under $0.05 see any Standard play at all, they will become cards that your local game store may pay $0.05 or even $0.10 for on their buylists. Again, not nothing. Kinjalli’s Caller, New Horizons, Siren’s Ruse, and Perilous Voyage are all cards that this could happen to if the right deck emerges. The same could happen with Fell Flagship, except it could be $1, perhaps even $2. The same could also happen with Kumena’s Speaker. The best card in the pack is Kitesail Freebooter. $1.50 is not out of the question just with Standard rotation. This pack could easily be worth $2 or more if you hold these 14 cards past October 2018.
We’ll definitely have to come back and see how these cards have aged. But here’s the beauty of this Ixalan pack-cracking exercise: these are all cards at the bottom of the market. They have nowhere to go but up. Ixalan is legal in Standard until October 2019. That’s a lot of time for the playable half of this pack to see modest gains. It also shows why buying cards sets that aren’t the newest Standard set, but aren’t leaving Standard for another year, is actually a really solid idea. Supply is the highest it will ever be and demand is the lowest it will be during the set’s Standard existence.
If you were using this pack as a seed pack for Pack to Power, it’s not terrible. If you’d gotten this pack several months back, you’d actually have gotten some decent playable rares for the contents of this pack. Again, though, you just don’t know what decks will play any of these cards. I wouldn’t trade any of these cards right now. Outside of Hijack, Pirate’s Prize, Pounce, Ravenous Daggertooth, Sun-Crowned Hunters, and Spreading Rot, I wouldn’t be throwing these cards into the bulk bin just yet!
What we've learned is that even below-average packs, opened at the right time, can actually mean profit later. It also teaches what cards people currently undervalue and what we should be looking to pick up before Standard rotation.
What do you think these cards will be worth come October 2018 and beyond?