Hey everyone! I'm sorry I missed last week. I've been a bit busy with wedding planning (but you don't care about that) and picking my jaw off the floor after all of these Guilds of Ravnica spoilers (okay maybe you care about this part). This week I'm going to talk about pre-order prices and where I see the most talked about cards going in the future.
I'm going to start this article off with the elephant in the room, a price increase for boxes. It's not an increase of MSRP but rather an increased cost from distributors which should, in turn, lead to raised prices for consumers. I don't think you will be able to find boxes for $80 online like you may have for previous sets. Right now, most stores seem to have them available for $90-95. There is also a distribution method change. Boxes are not available from WOTC direct anymore, so restocks will need to come through distributors which could lead to some shortages if stores make ordering mistakes. Early on with Dominaria there was a shortage of sealed product and it caused some cards to be more expensive in the short term and boxes to also be more expensive. I do not know if this will be the case for Guilds of Ravnica, but I would not be surprised if it was. That being said, if you don't need the cards immediately I would not buy into the hype during the first weekend.
As of the writing of this article,we have 6 pretty high value reprints included in this set at rare. If you don't play Commander then you probably only know 5 of them. The shocks are all mainstays of their respective Standard formats as well as casual and Modern decks. They're the best non-basic land that isn't on the Reserve List that makes mana. Technically, I would put fetchlands in the only category above shocklands, but fetches at their current price point are far too expensive for the average player. I know many players that own a playset of shocks but only the bare minimum number of fetchlands to make their decks work. During Return to Ravnica the most played shocklands in Standard were $12-16 each at their peak and the least played lands were as low as $8. Right now the shocks are pre-ordering for between $8 and $10. Ultimately, I think that the shocks have room to fall but if you don't own any I think you won't be too unhappy pre-ordering them now. It's always in your best interest to make sure you have all of the dual lands available in Standard so you are able to change decks easier. The long term usefulness of shocks also makes them a pretty reasonable long term investment. You'll almost assuredly need them to play Modern at some point in time.
Chromatic Lantern is the last highlight reprint that may not be on many competitive players' radars. It was previously a $15 card that is now pre-ordering for $5. I think this is likely to be a $2-3 card at some point in time (maybe around Christmas) so I don't think ordering them now for $5 is worth it. It was first printed in Return to Ravnica but since then there have been a lot more players introduced to Commander. Chromatic Lantern is similar to Sol Ring and has become ubiquitous in 3+ color decks. I would recommend keeping an eye out for them in trade binders and drafts as less financially savvy players may not know their innate value.
Yeah I know everyone is looking at Assassin's Trophy and that card is great. It's just not $30 great. This is kind of what Fatal Push would have looked like if it was printed as a rare instead of an uncommon. I know there is a lot of hype surrounding this card and if you have tournaments to play I think you will do yourself a disservice by not playing it. That being said, you don't need 4 copies for FNM the first week. It's not entirely clear that Golgari will even necessary be good in Standard, so this card's price is entirely predicated on Modern and Legacy use. I think there will be a lot of people that have this card and don't really want it as much as its price tag suggests. Also the real issue is that a set can't support a $30 rare that isn't an artifact and have healthy Constructed formats. The most expensive rares in recent history have been Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker because of how flexible they are and how they can be played in any deck. This is not that type of card. If there is anything you can take away from this its try to trade them away at the pre-release. Getting them early is an easy recipe for losing money.
Doom Whisperer is an interesting card and one of the most expensive available for preorder now. I'm not sure we are in a world where a five-mana creature that doesn't immediately impact the board will be playable, but the activated ability is not difficult to abuse. It's not fair to compare it directly in power level to Griselbrand but it is important to note how much an activated ability with no mana can influence a card's power. At an eight-mana 7/7 flying lifelink, Griselbrand is not impressive. As a five-mana 6/6 flying trample, Doom Whisperer has a little more to work with before you get to its ability. Ultimately I think it's not good enough for Standard and worse than other options in other formats it is legal in. I would try to trade or sell these at the pre-release.
Vraska, Golgari Queen is cool but I don't think there is a deck there to take best advantage of her. Right now, I think trading her across for Vraska, Relic Seeker is definitely the best bet you can make. Ixalan was a way less opened set and Vraska, Relic Seeker is set up to quickly take over a grindy Golgari style game.
Mission Briefing is going to be my pick for the card that has the biggest delta from its preorder price in a month. Snapcaster Mage was good because it was a 2/1. This card is not Snapcaster Mage and it's definitely not worth its preorder price. I would go so far as to try to buylist them to your LGS if you can't find anyone to trade them to at the pre-release. This card reminds me a lot of Harsh Mentor which looks a lot better than it is.
Not interested in getting rid of everything at the pre-release? I'd recommend holding the following cards: March of the Multitudes, Underrealm Lich, Thousand-Year Storm, Discovery // Dispersal, Divine Visitation, and Knight of Autumn. I think all of these cards have a reasonable chance of being more expensive than their pre-order price or being close enough within two weeks that selling and re-buying them isn't likely to save you any money. Thousand-Year Storm and Divine Visitation are the perfect cards to throw in a shoe box and forget you own them for a few years. They will age like a fine wine if they dodge Commander reprints.
Are there any cards you're especially excited about? Any cards you think might be undervalued? Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think about the set!