I had no idea when I wrote about Animar being a big winner thanks to the reprinting of Imperial Recruiter that Animar would later be revealed to be in the set, but I was very happy. If Animar being expensive was another reason you were holding off on building that deck, a decrease in the price of both Animar and Imperial Recruiter have got to have you psyched to be able to build the deck for much cheaper. Animar can be a pretty inexpensive deck to build outside a few of those really expensive cards, especially if you go the Morph route. The 75% Animar deck we talked about last week is a very good way to make the most of Masters 25 and build a deck you may have wanted to build for a while but were holding off because of prices. Again, I’m not going to try and trick you into reading a finance article, but I do want to talk about this set and a few opportunities you have over the next few weeks between the set being released and hitting peak supply — the point where the most boosters that are going to be opened are opened and the most cards from Masters 25 are out in the wild, bringing prices to their absolute lowest before demand brings them back. If you want to know which cards to buy while they’re at their cheapest, you should think about what you want to be doing in your decks. While I can’t tell you what that is, because I don’t know what you like, I CAN tell you what I like to do in 75% decks and give you a list of cards I’m going to be keeping a close eye on in the coming weeks.
While there are no new cards in Masters 25, and therefore it seems a little odd to do a set review where I tell you about cards you’re already aware of and probably playing in your decks already, I will be focusing on cards that I think people may have been excluding because cheaper alternatives existed or because it used to be more fun to buy one of every Commander 2017 deck and have money left over rather than buy an Imperial Recruiter. I will also be talking about the cards that have the most 75% potential and will therefore be cards to stock up on while they’re cheap so you have spare copies to jam in future decks. This week is all about using the past to plan ahead. With that out of the way, here are the cards I think are important to note in Masters 25 from a 75% present and future deck-building perspective.
Darien, King of Kjeldor — Ever since Anointed Procession was spoiled, I have been salivating at the thought of building more token-based decks that don’t have access to Green for cards like Parallel Lives. Darien has always been an interesting White commander because he has an atypical White approach — find ways to damage yourself and benefit. Coolstuff wants a mere $3.50 for a preorder of Darien and you can build the rest of the deck very affordably. I wish I had thought to do an article like this a bit earlier and you might have been able to get Cathars' Crusade and Archangel of Thune a little cheaper. I don’t know how much I like buying Darien from a “you could make money buying at this price” perspective, but I’m going to remain agnostic to those concerns today and tell you I think his preorder price is reasonable and I like the idea of building around him. Decree of Justice, Kongming, "Sleeping Dragon", and Valor in Akros are a few other Masters 25 picks which might pair nicely with a Darien deck. If Darien ever gets below $1.50-$2 on CoolStuff, I might pull the trigger on a copy and don’t forget, this card would look great in foil and the reprinting should make those much more reasonable as well.
Luminarch Ascension — This is a card that got, reasonably, very unreasonable in price. Coolstuff commands a whopping $8 for this non-mythic, a price people are happy to pay because the card is so good. $3.50 for the preorder copies seems pretty reasonable, but I bet it gets lower, and when it does, I’m interested in trading a lot of the other cards in the set for copies of Luminarch Ascension. Quite a few of my 75% decks like to run Ascension, and having lots of copies of an $8 card can add up quickly. I am looking to pick up 4-8 copies (it’s funny that even as an EDH player I still think in multiples of 4) for future decks and I want to do it cheaply. There’s no cheaper time to do it than when people are busting boosters and are disappointed they didn’t get a chase mythic like Jace or Tree of Redemption. Expect these to be undervalued by spiky Modern players at your LGS and stock up while they’re cheap. Build a new Hanna deck when the set comes out and Luminarch Ascension will be right at home. If you go that route, Sphere of Safety, Sigil of the Empty Throne, Parallax Wave, and Imprisoned in the Moon are probably as cheap as they’re going to get.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben — If this were a finance article, this space would be devoted to me sobbing and mopping up my tears with hundreds of copies I held onto for too long. This is a very good card in general and, specifically, I want to talk about how 75% a card like this is. Taxing them, thereby slowing them down, is a great way to get ahead and make them make choices about how to develop instead of playing a ton of mana rocks or spells early. I like other Thalia in this capacity as well and I like Thalia's Lancers for finding me the best Thalia for the job. I like it all. Thalia is going to get more affordable at peak supply and you may change your mind about including her when you see how affordable she gets. Since Captain Sisay just got a lot better (but not a reprint, bummer) I am looking at decks like which thrive on Legendary permanents. Tapping Thalia to untap your Honor-Worn Shaku offsets her nicely and the mana tax can help keep your planeswalkers from getting iced too early in the game. Thalia gets a non-trivial amount of play as commander of her own deck, but I’m not interested in that. If you do snag a cheap Thalia to go in Sisay, Teeg, Alesha, Augustin or a deck like that, I also like other Thalia at $2 for the promo, Thalia’s Lancers at $2 for the promo, Spirit of the Labyrinth, Leonin Arbiter and Austere Command at their current prices.
I didn’t forget about Blue, but there was nothing in Blue that is all that 75% or wasn’t already like $1.50. I don’t think the printing of Masters 25 affords you any real opportunity to do anything new in Blue and I don’t think Jace, the Mind Sculptor is all that necessary in a 75% deck. It’s a great card but I don’t think you need it.
One Blue card I will mention even though it was already cheap is —
Reef Worm — While this was already pretty affordable, this card does dumb things, especially with token doublers. I see it played more in value Commander decks, however, and cards like Marchesa, Jalira (also in Masters 25 so try and hook this up in draft) and Temmet can make great use of a creature that won’t take “die” for an answer. You can get a foil Jalira for practically nothing once this set is at peak supply and, if you do, I think Proteus Staff is in an interesting spot, price-wise. If Staff gets more attention, I think the price goes up and stays up because when it initially went up based on hype from Narset, there were a lot of cheap copies to backfill demand. Now that the low-hanging fruit has all been picked, the only way to get Staff now is pay retail and those copies are finite. Proteus Staff is a very good card and I like it in a lot of builds and it’s perfect with Reef Worm and Jalira.
Similarly, Black is “bad” for my purposes in this set review. There are cards I want to talk about but they were already very affordable before. That said, I think it’s worth touching on them, anyway.
Hell's Caretaker — This is a card I have been in love with since Chronicles and while it was always pretty affordable, it’s also back in the front of everyone’s minds now. EDHREC says there are a lot of applications for caretaker, so get creative. Again, this was always cheap, but now that it’s a bulk rare, grab a foil copy or 8 and jam these places. This card does a lot of work if it lives.
I shouldn’t have to tell you to grab every Zulaport Cutthroat you can and make a big pile, but if I do have to tell you that, do it when these are so common that people are just leaving them in piles of draft chaff on the tables at the LGS.
Fortune Thief — was cheap before but I love this in my decks. With Animar being reprinted, this is a card to take a look at for your new Animar build. I will mention Animar later, but, this is a fun card, it does a LOT of work for a bulk rare and if you have other Morph creatures like Willbender, you can really keep them guessing. This card is everything I want in a 75% deck inclusion that can’t steal their stuff.
Magus of the Wheel — was such a valuable card, it was a large contributing factor in it being so appealing to buy the Kalemne Commander decks sealed. $10 for a fragile wheel effect felt a little awkward, but Coolstuff is opening the bidding for pre-sale copies at $2.99 and I think it can get cheaper eventually. That’s good news because lots of decks, from The Locust God to Nekusar to Yidris to Feldon to Arjun, love this versatile character. I love chaos effects and Magus’ unpredictability can help you upset their carefully-laid plans and turn a hand of awkward jank and lands into the topdeck you need. Chaos is very 75% and wheel effects have been a favorite of mine for a long time. Get these on the cheap and when they start to flirt with $10 again, you’ll be glad you got them when you did. Psychosis Crawler, Waste Not, and Kederekt Parasite all look good at their current prices for these sorts of shenanigans.
Azusa, Lost but Seeking — is a card that EDH players have been very fond of for a long time but which ended up priced out of a lot of their decks due to Modern demand. With it being more affordable very soon, people will give this a second look in their decks. I expect the price to do a decent job of recovering quite a bit of its lost value, so it’s very important to buy at the right time. A $20 preorder price on Coolstuff seems pretty reasonable, although I think it can get cheaper and I’m banking on that. If you can’t wait, $20 is pretty good for a card that used to flirt with $60. If you’re building around Azusa, Horn of Greed, Burgeoning, and Ramunap Excavator all look tempting. Had Masters 25 been my set to design, we’d be talking about how affordable Crucible of Worlds was about to get, but no one wants to pay me to design Magic card sets . . . yet, so for now, let’s just design a deck that has an affordable Azusa in it.
Summoner's Pact — This card is fine, but I never really wanted to pay more than $10 for it and therefore just sort of ignored it until I forgot it was a card. It’s a card and it’s back and only $12.99 right now and could get even cheaper. I hate to sound like a broken record, but I like this in Animar decks. I also like this in just about any Green deck that can use it. I have had a fraught history with tutors, but I think we can all agree a tutor that can be a toolbox card the way Summoner's Pact so often is and which comes with a significant drawback is pretty fair and very 75%. Pair this with, errr, creatures.
This article has gone on longer than I had anticipated. I had a lot I wanted to say, but some of the opportunities presented are very good ones. Rather than make you slog through a double-sized article, I think what I will do is cut it here since I want to talk about quite a few of the gold cards and artifacts — provided you want that. I took a chance with a bit of a different format for the set review on an all-reprint set. Did you like it? We have two options for next week — I can finish this article with the gold, artifact and land cards I think you might want to grab in about a month when people are drafting a ton of this set and supply is highest (which means waiting a week to finish the article won’t hurt your ability to get good deals) or I can do something else. If you would like me to do something else and have a suggestion, leave it in the comments. Please take the poll and interact with me on social media. I’ll look forward to hearing what you’d like me to do next week. Until next time!