One of the big trends in MTG Finance over the last two years has been the uptick of price spikes due to financial buyouts of reserve list cards. Some of these spikes have targeted cards for purchase that were pretty tame and then in a post-spike world, the card retained some of its value.
For example, take Stone Calendar.
There was a time when you could get Stone Calendar for a very cheap investment. In an article of mine in May 2017 looking at top reserve list cards that were surprisingly cheap, I put this card at #4, around $3 near mint. Months later, it had spiked hard, and was actually one of the leads of a Chas Andres article on Magic spikes and trends and was going for as much as $40. Today, post-Spike, a similar copy will run around $15 or so. And while this is the era of the spiking Reserve List card, there are still some great casual cards from this era that are on the Reserve List, but haven’t yet spiked!
So what are these cards worth right now? I included the most recent price for a near mint copy here at CoolStuffInc. You could certainly purchase a played copy of these cards for a lesser cash investment. Please note that these prices are correct as of the final review of this article on Friday afternoon and could have shifted between now and when you read them, such is the nature of the business.
10. Shimmer — $2.49
There are two types of people who love Shimmer. The first are players who like playing fun tempo games with their foe. Name a basic land you aren’t playing, or a key land a few others have, like Maze of Ith, and then force them to head out to the exile zone every other turn, and you will be able to deal with junk. You used to be able to use this to lock someone out from casting countermagic on the turns Islands were phased out, but that doesn’t seem to work much anymore with the number o f non-basics out there. The second sort of player that adores Shimmer are Johnnies who like a good combo that dips into mass land destruction or similar themes. Use it on your stuff, and when phased out, cast something like Armageddon or Epicenter. You can use it to hide lands to prevent them from getting sacrificed to Mana Vortex. I’m sure you’ll find a lot of valuable ways to tuck your lands away for a bit. So Shimmer works with two separate styles of player. Are you one of them?
9. Tolarian Serpent — $0.49
All right, I want you to pause for a moment, and set aside your initial feelings of Tolarian Serpent or friends like Deep Spawn. Think about your Commander decks. How many of them have any sort of a graveyard theme? Reanimation? Flashback? Threshold? Incarnations with play abilities? Lord of Extinction? Retrace? Sultai? You get the idea. Tons of cards, Commanders, and strategies want a nice, full graveyard. It’s one of the reasons milling isn’t as strong, it takes longer to kill someone, and they are likely strengthened by it. You don’t want to give someone fuel for an Academy Ruins, toss a Genesis on them, or make them mill a Dread Return. With that in mind, the idea of putting seven into your graveyard during your upkeep is very strong. Tolarian Serpent plays strongly into that theme. And it’s not the sort of card that’ll embarrass you in the red zone, as a perfectly survivable 7/7 with no disadvantages. It can swing, block, and pretty much get down tonight. So get down with Tolarian Serpent!
8. Phyrexian Portal — $0.49
Phyrexian Portal is one of the most broken cards at multiplayer or casual Magic, bit the issue is two-fold. First, it can take a while to play out and feels like a mini-game. Sort of like Orcish Librarian or activating a lot of Fact or Fictions. Secondly, a lot of folks out there aren’t comfortable with the idea of exiling stuff from their library. Get over it! This is one of the best card drawing engines out there, as each iteration of it draws you a card, as opposed to just setting up future draws. Thus the power is ripe for unleashing on folks. This doesn’t tap, invest three mana, draw one of around five cards, shuffle the rest back. It even shuffles, so you could get the other cards if you like. How many cards can you draw at one time? And why is this card so cheap to purchase from dealers?
7. Political Trickery — $1.49
There was a time when Political Trickery was the only (cheap) to swap lands with someone. You can steal a land with Annex or Conquer, but those can be removed. Later we’d get the pricey Shifting Loyalties, or the flexible but pricey Shifting Loyalties. But Political Trickery will always have a strong Johnny name for being cheap at three mana. We all know the value of exchanging lands. You can steal their best or cut them off from a color while at the same time playing into everything from hitting with a landwalk creature to getting more mana from a Carpet of Flowers there are a lot of fun Johnny things to do with switching lands. And the Political Trickery does it perfectly, for little investment. In almost every case, you’d rather Political Trickery to give away a land than Donate or Harmless Offering it, so you get something back.
6. Boesium Strip — $2.49
Bosium Strip is one of those fun long game cards that a lot of folks forgot about. Basically it gives flashback to the top card of your graveyard for an investment of three mana each time. Now the good thing to note here is that this effect does not end after you have cast the first spell. If the top card of your graveyard is Lightning Helix, and you activate Bosium Strip, then you can cast Lightning Helix. If the next card is Fact or Fiction, then you can cast Fact or Fiction as well. As long as you meet the requirements, you should be fine. That’s a level of strength you might miss until you start playing with the card. And with a pricetag of just $2.50 for a copy, why not give it a spin next?
5. Varchild’s War-Riders — $1.49
One of the greatest Johnny cards of its era was the War-Riders! It’s a cheap card, and if you block with the tokens it gave you, then it has enough rampage that you can still smash over them and kill them all. But it’s a powerful 3/4 for two-mana with a number of ways to enhance it by smashing the Survivors. Aether Flash? Pyroclasm? Pyrohemia? Plus in multiplayer today you can use the giving-of-tokens to make friends, and smash someone else with the Riders of War. If you have never played with this iconic card from long ago, then what is stopping you? It’s certainly not the price!
4. Soldevi Digger — $0.99
I am very surprised at the lack of movement financially by Soldevi Digger. First of all, the ability it has is very unusual. Sending cards back to your library from your graveyard isn’t something you see pretty often. The Digger is also one of the few that’s repeatable, and as long as you have mana, you can restock your library. This is also an ability with a strong long-game as you send stuff back to your library that adds more and more value. It’s even a useful brake against milling decks by restocking your deck. It’s also super easy to shuffle your deck and have a shot at drawing the goods you just Dug back! The only issue is the fact that you can only send back the top card of your library. But trust me as someone who has played Digger tons, you’ll Dig to the good stuff, and won’ mind the thicker deck either. Cards that are in your deck are in your deck because of how good they are in your deck. It’s not like you are running Shatterstorm in an artifact deck. This thing is surprisingly affordable.
3. Dominating Licid — $0.75
These days we only have a few cards printed in the Control Magic genre. One is Treachery, which is arguably the best Control Magic variant ever printed. And Treachery acts like it, as a reserved list card with a lot of financial value. Dominating Licid is also on the list, and bonus — it’s pretty useful and comparatively cheap too! Just cast in, and then, at instant speed, tap a little mana, turn it into an aura, and steal the enchanted creature until you feel like reversing the effect. The ability to steal a better dork later is very flexible, and it has great flexibility. When a creature, it can hide from removal, and while an aura, it can do the same. Did you try to First Pick my aura? I guess I have to en-creature it! Did you try and Terminate my creature? I guess I’ll have to aura-tize it! And then you can also do the dreaded bounce, block, bounce and stop an attack (You turn it from an aura to a dork, block, and then tap to make it an aura before damage is dealt, and the attacker is still blocked,). It’s a great creature, and with a great price to boot!
2. Tombstone Stairwell — $2.99
At first, Tombstone Stairwell may seem like an odd card. Each upkeep, everybody puts onto the battlefield Zombie tokens with haste. At the end of each turn they die. Why Is everyone else getting Zombies during my turn? Why are my foes getting Zombies with haste when they can’t attack?
At first, it seems like a fun buy silly card. But then you begin to play around it. And things change quickly. For example, take a Commander heavyweight like Blood Artist or Zulaport Cutthroat. You will rack up a ton of Blood Artist triggers each turn with these zombies dying and win pretty quickly. You can control the number of creatures in order’s graveyards to ensure that your disposable army gets smashed, so exile stuff from graveyards with things like Bojuka Bog. Give your tokens a little Zombie loving with Zombie lords. The creatures die, so give them indestructible with something like Eldrazi Monument, and while everyone else loses their dorks each turns, yours won’t, so you could have a game-ending number of Zombies in just one go around the table. THIS IS AN AMAZING CARD. It’s unique. It does something nothing else does. It plays into a cool space. It’s iconic. And most of all, it’s cheap. Seriously, what’s going on with that?
1. Phelddagrif — $3.99
Sometimes I think cards on this list typically come from either a Johnny tool that people forgot/never knew about or a Spike threat that is in the same boat. Rarely do we come across a card like Phelddagrif that is truly fun. This card is a lot of fun! It’s a perfect card for people who like to play nice at the kitchen table! It’s the perfect leader for a “Let’s Make Friends” style of Commander, and it’s a perfect leader. In today’s day and age when prices for great, iconic leaders for Commander have spiked hard, how is Phelddagrif worth such a tiny amount of actual and proper money? How does that make sense in our world?
So what did you think of my list? Aren’t there still a ton of great cards on the Reserve List for very little cash investment. I love cards still out there like Preferred Selection, Rainbow Vale, or Bubble Matrix as well.
When writing this article, I actually purchased several of these cards because they give you such great value for such a little price.