Last week, I wrote an article that I wasn’t sure people would like. I wasn’t sure if I would want to write the second part of it. However, a portion of you took a poll and the overwhelming majority of those people said I should at least finish what I started. I think there’s value in discussing a lot of these cards whether it’s with respect to future affordability, 75% playability, or both. With that out of the way, we have quite a few cards to talk about in the rest of the set, so let’s drill down, shall we? If you’re not quite sure what I’m going to be doing, give last week’s article a quick read and let’s hit the ground running.
Animar, Soul of Elements — I write about this card a ton because I think it’s unfortunate that it was priced out of a lot of people’s grasp. 75% isn’t a budget ethos per se but I’m also not going to suggest Imperial Recruiter in most of my decks because 75% isn’t a “spend 100s of dollars to get a small, incremental edge” sort of philosophy, either. The simple truth is that fewer $50 Animars will sell than will sell at the $18 Coolstuff wants for a preorder. With a huge price reduction, the deck gets more buildable and innovation within the deck is going to take place. The last big innovation, Animorphs, was a lot of fun and I think new archetypes are possible. The commander grows, is hard to kill and makes creatures cheaper — there are a lot of possibilities.
Cheaper Animar, coupled with Imperial Recruiters that will likely end up so cheap that I’ll actually recommend playing them again, are going to lead to more Animar decks and that’s a very good thing. More Animar decks will impact all sorts of cards from Eldrazi to combo enablers like Cloudstone Curio to Morph creatures like Den Protector to Mana generators like Bloom Tender. I know this isn’t my finance article, but how many cards have upside if more Animar decks get built? Here’s a good place to start looking.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight — OK, this is the last time I’m going to remind you that this isn’t a finance article. It’s not. That said, every time Gisela gets reprinted, it recovers a lot of its value. I think if you think you’ll use these, and you should because this card is amazing, you should buy when people are drafting this set the most (something they’ll stop doing when Dominaria drafts start up) and consider doubling your order. This is a great card, and while this may not be your last chance to buy it cheap due to a reprinting, it may be the last one for a while. This is a good card either in the 99 or as your Commander, and with Dominaria promising some spellslinging in these colors, you may want to make your burn spells go a little farther.
Eladamri's Call — Remember Tiny Leaders? Well its effects are still being felt in certain prices and this is one of them. I think this card was priced out of people’s grasps for a while and with Captain Sisay being a very popular card both in the 99 and at the helm of decks that can suddenly tutor for Planeswalkers and cards like Paradox Engine, I like getting Call cheap when you can. I am generally in favor of toolboxy tutors that fetch cards face-up rather than cards like Demonic Tutor, and I think if this ends up not just being a second copy of Sisay, this could be a valuable addition to a lot of decks. Go find the right hatebear or combo enabler or beatstick. I like this card a lot and while it can probably get cheaper, a $5 preorder isn’t totally unreasonable.
Vindicate — As the price of Vindicate approaches the price of Utter End, it’s worth re-doing the “Utter End is fine” calculus that we did when Vindicate wasn’t really an affordable option. I played Mortify for years and liked it. The flexibility to blow up lands is worth taking a look at, though, and while Sorcery speed is a bit inflexible, we have a lot of options between Unmake, Anguished Unmaking, Vindicate, Mortify and Utter End. Do you want the ability to deal with problem lands even at sorcery speed? Cheap copies of Vindicate suddenly make that a question worth asking. Personally, I don’t hate Vindicate in a 75% deck and the flexibility to keep their stupid lands like Nykthos and Cradle from going nuts makes it worth looking at. Exiling a permanent is better than blowing it up, true, and I’m mostly suggesting you take something other than Anguished Unmaking and/or Utter End from the deck to make room for Vindicate, but I don’t know what that card is. Vindicate may have just been made obsolete but with copies being this cheap, you can at least test that theory and that’s worth doing.
Coalition Relic — This is a card I was always loath to include in my lists just because the price made it quite unattractive. There are so many good mana rocks that there didn’t seem much need to try and spend a ton of money to get a little bit of an advantage in builds where we’re purposely injecting a little variance into our games. However, I think Relic is about to tumble in price precipitously, probably a lot more than people anticipate. A lot of the demand for this card and its subsequent price is based more on scarcity than playability and that means a reprint in a Masters set should quash a lot of demand. With the price low, this deserves a second look. How low? A $6 pre-order that could get even cheaper, and that’s attractive. With the card no longer costing more than Chromatic Lantern (those were weird times) we can take a look at decks where Relic really shines — Atraxa most of all but also 5-color decks and decks like Narset. If Relic gets down to a few bucks, I would consider running it over something like Darksteel Ingot in a deck like that.
Strionic Resonator — It wasn’t until I scanned down the page and saw Sundering Titan that I remembered this wasn’t EDH Masters. There are so many good cards for us in this set that it’s easy to forget that this is supposed to hang as a draftable set and appeal to people who play decks with fewer than 99 cards in them. Strionic Resonator becoming practically a bulk rare in the short term is a great opportunity to stock up. In a year or two, this will be $4 again and everyone will say “when did that happen?” and the answer is that it was always going to. Most decks can use this card — it’s the 47th-most-played artifact on EDHREC, finishing ahead of cards like Paradox Engine, Mimic Vat, and even Rings of Brighthearth. You need a ton of these, I’m sure, so stock up. You’ll be glad you bought in cheap, and with a ton of EDH cards coming in Dominaria, you’re bound to have abilities you’ll want to copy.
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea — A group hug staple about to cut half or more off of its current price? This is something to pay attention to. I am fond of this card as heck, having used it in burn all the way back during Kami/Rav Standard and group hug decks can make great use of something that makes everyone like you. This is played in a lot more decks than people think, and I think you could benefit from stocking up on a few copies. Real Estate is a solid investment, and with the Commander 2018 commanders unknown, preparing for a new, potential group hug build is prudent. I like cards like this outside of group hug, so obviously I’m waiting for this to get cheap so I can snag a few copies.
Filter Lands — I typically don’t include these in my decklists for price reasons but if these get more affordable, they deserve a look. In 3-color decks, especially, your mana can be very rough and being able to get double of 2 different colors from the same land is going to get you out of a lot of mana-related jams that some of my greedier mana bases (I’m looking at you, Prossh) always seem to find themselves in. I have been waiting for these to get a reprinting for a while and now that it’s here, I think there are too many other cards I want in the set. I hope these stay cheap for a long time since I think the current price is more predicated on low supply than high demand.
So of all the cards in the set, which are my Top 10 for 75% builds? That’s a good question and I’m happy to answer - I’m glad I pretended you asked.
My Top Ten
10. Tree of Redemption
Tree is a real disappointment to people who found out it was a last-minute replacement for another card that was in the set (they are convinced it was Liliana of the Veil) but if you actually use this card, it does a LOT of work, and the life total changes are pretty relevant in a format where gain and loss of life can trigger a lot of things. Tree of Perdition is a lot more fun, but this is a solid card.
9. Akroma’s Vengeance
I like removal that can get the job done and this is that. This leaves you your Planeswalkers and it nukes a lot of their stuff and none of yours in an Avacyn deck and those are both winning propositions if you ask me. This card should get more love.
8. Azusa, Lost but Seeking
My first playset of these came as the result of a very lopsided trade that took 8 years to stop being insanely in the other trader’s favor. I knew I wanted the card and knew I wasn’t interested in Kokusho and eventually it began to look like I knew what I was doing. I sold all of mine at their peak and the decks that used them miss them. Nothing I put in that slot has felt the same. I think one you play with Azusa, you’ll agree that there really is no substitute for a card this explosive.
7. Fortune Thief
If I had a nickel for every time I flipped this up when my opponent thought they were going to win the game and even my Willbender couldn’t stop him, well, I’d have a nickel, but that still felt good. Who needs to bend wills when you can steal entire fortunes?
6. Animar, Soul of Elements
OK, I’ll shut up about how much I love this card, already. I think Animar is one of the easiest decks to build 75% and with big, durdly creatures that don’t usually get to see play in other decks being the bread and butter of a deck like this, we’ll get to play big, dumb battlecruiser Magic as Richard Garfield intended.
5. Reef Worm
This is the kind of Magic I want to be playing. If we can’t steal their stuff with any of the cards in this set, at least we can punish them for trying to kill ours.
4. Luminarch Ascension
This is the win condition I want in a lot of my decks. It’s obviously a lot harder to trigger in EDH but aren’t we just going to cheat and tick it up with Contagion Engine, anyway? This isn’t an easy way to win games in EDH but I’m far from the only person running it.
3. Hell’s Caretaker
“Black Elvish Piper” as I like to call him does a ton of work. Next time you build a deck with a lot of Threaten effects and you want a few more sac outlets to avoid having to give their creatures back alive at the end of the turn, keep this guy in mind. The 1 toughness matters a little less in Commander where we’re losing creatures to Blasphemous Act more often than Lightning Bolt so we just have a four mana powerhouse that can stack a ton of triggers. This card does WORK.
2. Elvish Piper
“Green Hell's Caretaker” as I like to call him is a great way to cheat at Magic. Cheating is how we get an advantage and win games and there’s no better way to cheat than to just put your creatures into play without paying their casting cost. This is as slow and flimsy as Hell's Caretaker but if they let you get it going, you’re going to be glad you decided to cheat.
1. Strionic Resonator
There aren’t a ton of decks that don’t need this card and I really love doubling things. Doubling Season, Anointed Procession, Panharmonicon — doubling is how we get ahead while they’re over there singling like a bunch of Neanderthals trying to discover fire by clubbing rocks.
That does it for me this week. I hope everyone found this two-part series refreshing. I don’t know if I’ll do it for future Masters sets but I do know that part of 75% is making sure you can play your decks with more than one playgroup which should encourage you to keep building new decks all the time. That can get expensive, so buying staples on the cheap is a great way to bring the cost of the game down a bit so while not everyone is interested in finance, we can all get behind “this costs now half of what it will cost later” and that’s why I did a bit of a crossover piece this week. Thanks for reading and be sure to tune in next week when we have some official Dominaria previews to talk about. It’s shaping up to be a very, very Commander-centric set which is great news for us. Until next time!