The new rotation schedule for Standard has upset some people. It means their cards won’t be worth as much for as long, people say. Far as I see it, all this does is create new opportunities. Since only two sets are going out of Standard at a time instead of three, you actually have less to lose. With the April 2016 rotation, Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins survive. But Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged leave Standard forever. Fortunately, good for us, there are quite a few cards that we don’t have to dump ASAP. In fact, we can even be buying them.
Careful, They Are a Trap!
Khans of Tarkir fetchlands are heavily played in Modern, Legacy, Vintage, and Commander. Casual players have even been picking them up over time as they’ve become more easily available. Unlike the “shock” lands of Ravnica, these can and will be played in literally any Magic the Gathering deck - except for Standard after rotation. Polluted Delta carries the highest price tag, with Wooded Foothills (my favorite) right behind. The other three are Flooded Strand, Bloodstained Mire, and Windswept Heath. Bloodstained Mire is probably the best deal of them all, as they tend to have the best spread (retail vs buylist price) of all five of them. All 5 are solid investments, but I would wait until actual rotation as they will probably dip somewhat as people who grind only Standard and Limited sell off extra copies.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon from Fate Reforged will probably see a noticeable drop in price after his Standard rotation. While he’s super good in other formats, he’s usually only a 1 or 2 of in Modern, where he’s typically a 2 or 3-of in Standard. This means there will be some extra copies hitting the market at rotation.
Monastery Swiftspear is super good, and even better in Modern and Legacy than Standard. But a $4 uncommon in Standard usually doesn’t hold that price tag for long. If you have copies, I’d probably keep them. But if you’re looking to buy them, rotation will see a lot of these hit buylists for $1.50 - $2.00. With the strength of the chase cards from Shadows of Innistrad, a lot of Ugins and Swiftspears are going to hit buylists to fuel new purchases. I’d wait until they are officially out of Standard before buying in, even the fetchlands.
Sorin, Solemn Visitor is the best planeswalker from Khans of Tarkir and he sees play in Modern. I may wait to see what his price does come rotation, but I feel like he’s the safest bet of any card in the set right now to maintain and eventually gain in value.
There are a number of cards that see play and actually buylist for well above bulk. Yet you don’t really see anyone talking about them. We’ll start with Khans of Tarkir.
Yes, Deflecting Palm. The sideboard card that mostly only sees play in Modern Burn decks. With Splinter Twin gone from Modern, this suddenly looks a lot better against the rest of the field. Affinity gears up with a massive Arcbound Ravager for game? Throw it right back at their face. Infect ready to one-hit KO you? Prevent the infect, and do 10 or more damage for 2 mana. There are a lot of cases where taking a massive hit and turning it around for the win can happen. This should become more popular over time, and foils have already steadily climbed to $2.50. Having a non-foil playset of these isn’t a bad plan. It’s not played in Standard anyway, so there is pretty much zero risk in holding onto them.
Only a one-of in the rather successfully 4-Color Rally the Ancestors deck in Standard, Grim Haruspex is still pretty much a bulk rare. You may notice, however, that the Ugin’s Fate promotional version of Haruspex holds a $7 price tag. He holds as high as a $10 price on eBay - and that’s for completed listings. There is a Legacy list called Zombardment that took down a Legacy League on Magic Online once with one copy of him.
But most of Grim Haruspex’s value comes from Commander, where there are so many sacrifice engines, that a lot of your non-token creatures will die. While he’s not a staple in any one Commander deck, his draw engine ability is going to be good forever. Being a Morph creature probably won’t be all that relevant in the future. But for a bulk rare, he’s about as good as you get for a card that will be at least $2-3 some day.
Want to know the most played card in Commander from Khans of Tarkir? It’s Clever Impersonator, and it’s not particularly close. EDHREC has over 2600+ lists that play Clever Impersonator. He’s one of the best Clone variants ever printed. Sadly, he never really made it into many Standard lists. He’s been $2.00-$2.50 since Magic Origins released. It doesn’t take much for a mythic to gain lots of value over time. It could take awhile, but he could be $10 some day.
Other cards I’d watch are Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, Siege Rhino, and Anafenza the Foremost. Sarkhan is just really popular among casual players, so he seems a safe investment. Siege Rhino is one of the best creatures ever printed and everyone keeps holding onto them. Anafenza should be good in Modern, but she hasn’t quite made the jump as I’ve expected. She’ll probably fall a bit more before she’s worth picking up.
Hardened Scales is one of my favorite cards from the entire Khans set, and I was right about it spawning an archetype. It’s been attempted in Modern, and perhaps at some point, the Scales deck will do real work. But I’ll wait until it’s in the dollar bin again before I pick any more copies up.
We’ve already discussed Ugin. Monastery Mentor is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite Magic cards, and to not have a playset now I think is a bad idea. It’s possible that he crashes with rotation below his former low-water mark of $14. But after that I’m happy to buy back in. Mentor decks should be one of the top decks in Modern as I see it, as we’ve seen what he does in Legacy. Perhaps they will be eventually. Soulfire Grand Master is awesome and playable in Modern, too. But the lifelinking Grand Master will take a tumble before stabilizing after rotation.
Tasigur, the Golden Fang was a favorite among speculators, being the best rare in the set. He’s a great Commander and is super useful in pretty much any format, especially Modern and Legacy. The Event Deck reprint definitely hurt his value a lot. But foils are crazy high - they hit $45 at one point and dropped to $30 as Fate Reforged has hit peak supply. He’s fine to grab.
Warden of the First Tree is a sweet card in Standard, but he doesn’t really cut it in Modern. His value was destroyed by the Event Deck printing, too. When he becomes a bulk mythic, though, sitting on a playset is not the worst thing to do with your money. Casual players will want him much like they do Figure of Destiny (which was a truly good Standard card). Being a mythic with a single set printing that probably won’t be reprinted again makes him a solid long-term investment.
Temporal Trespass is a really good extra turn spell, and picking them at $1 was and still is a smart move. Commander players do want this card. Extra turn spells do end up gaining in price in the long-run. With Delve, it’s unlikely to be reprinted any time soon. Brutal Hordechief is a creature that seems too good to be $2, but he never caught on in Standard. He’s super good in Commander, in the few decks that can actually use him. Alesha, Who Smiles at Death and Zurgo Helmsmasher are both popular Commanders, and while Hordechief isn’t a perfect fit he’s still useful. I wouldn’t go deep on either, but if I had to pick one, it would be Trespass.
Outpost Siege sees Commander play, but I don’t know that it’s super good long-term. It doesn’t feel like a casual hit to me. But it does provide card advantage in Red. So while I wouldn’t buy before rotation, I’d hold onto them. Crux of Fate is a bit narrow, and may fall below a dollar, but I’ll hold onto them as well as a 5-mana black board-wipe that Dragon players will always want.
Crucible of the Spirit Dragon is so narrow. But there are enough Dragon decks out there that I think overtime this could be a $2 card. I also really like Archfiend of Depravity. It’s actually above bulk, but that’s due to casual demand. He essentially prevents opponents from going wide and has a good flying Demon body. Yasova Dragonclaw also seems to good to be a bulk rare. Perhaps she will find a home in some Modern brew eventually. At the very least, she’s a solid Commander. And really, most of the Dragons in the set are solid to have around: Atarka, World Render, Kolaghan, Storm’s Fury, and Silumgar, the Drifting Death are the best of the 5. Ojutai is OK as a control-based Commander and Dromoka is fun with tokens, but neither really blows anyone away.
Where this set wins for me is with the foils. Reality Shift is an uncommon, but it sees so much Commander play that it’s a $3 foil! Temur Battle Rage is almost $5 in foil! And it’s a common! Dark Deal is a popular discard card among casual players and its foil is $2. Many of the foils probably won’t keep these values, especially the ones heavily played in Standard. But there are so many casual-friendly and useful Commander cards that I see foils as where to park money in this set.
- Wooded Foothills and Bloodstained Mire from Khans (because I love Jund)
- Windswept Heath if I get a good deal
- Flooded Strand and Polluted Delta if I get a REALLY good deal
- Deflecting Palm and Grim Haruspex at bulk or near-bulk ($0.25-$0.50 price range)
- Clever Impersonator
- Tasigur and Temporal Trespass
- Fate Reforged foils of Commons and Uncommons popular outside of Standard, plus the 3 more popular Dragons whenever I need to get free shipping on orders.
- Bulk rares like Crucible of the Spirit Dragon and Yasova Dragonclaw as ~$0.10 throw-ins to orders I make on TCGPlayer, etc.
- Bulk mythics from either set if they are priced mega cheap as throw-ins. (You should do that anyway unless it’s pure garbage.)
Only time will tell if these are the right investment choices. But I think pretty much all of these are safe bets and if any flop, I’ll have paid close enough to buylist prices that I’ll lose minimal money, if any. My primary advice is keep whatever is good in Modern, keep $1 rares that are good in Commander and see lots of casual interest and identify bulk rares that probably shouldn’t be. I can’t tell you how many bulk rares I’ve gotten over the years at $0.10-$0.25 that buy-listed eventually for $0.50, $1, or more. Magic cards can be free money if you know what to hold onto. These aren’t the best sets ever for this exercise, but it goes to show that once things leave Standard is when the real fun of collection building begins.