Right now is one of those weird Limbo times in Magic: the few weeks before a new set comes out. Limbo is an odd place to be. In college I wrote a short screenplay about Limbo based on a Tom and Jerry cartoon. The short is called "Heavenly Puss" and in the short Tom dies, but instead of going to Heaven, he is condemned to Hell unless he gets the written acceptance apology of Jerry.
Aren't Children's cartoons grand?
Anyway, being stuck in Limbo means you can't do anything. For me, in Commander, it means that I need to stop building and editing my decks because something might be printed that changes how a deck works or a new Commander that completely causes me to ditch one of my current ones.
Ravnica sets play out a little differently because we know which guilds are going to be in which sets. This means that we can see the color combinations that will be affected first and know which ones will be updated first (especially with those colored Commanders). While 's Azorius won't appear until 2019, there could be something now that changes it. There's also the bonus that all of the three colored wedges or shards will have all of their colors get new cards before Ravnica Alliance.
So, what do we do in this limbo?
We go back, back to the future!
No, that's silly. We gotta go back, back into time!
A.I. Artificial Intelligence is a 2001 movie written and directed by Steven "Steve" Spielberg. It stars Haley Joel Osmet as David, a robot child who is programmed to love his mother only to be abandoned by her (in one of the most heartbreaking scenes ever, more so now that I have kids) when her first real child becomes healthy. He must spend the rest of the movie trying to win her love back and become a real boy. At one point in the movie, David does experience a Limbo section, but to talk about it would spoil a 17 year old movie.
What's happens in the movie is not unlike what is going to happen to Standard. There is a major rotation and all of these cards are going to be abandoned, without homes. What we can do is take a look at the cards rotating out of Standard for Commander (a non-rotating format) and find homes for these cards that will be available at a much cheaper financial cost.
The idea is this: I've taken a look at EDHRec.com's top cards from each set (the most commonly used ones) and picked out some choice ones where it might be smart for you to pick them up sooner rather than later, or you could continue to wait to see if they're going to be reprinted. I'm sure at your LGS there are some FNMers or grinders who want to get rid of their Standard cards that have value in the Commander format. I'm not telling you that this is the lowest point they will be, since every card is different and maybe there might be a sweet new Modern deck that combos with a particular card. If you're looking to acquire some cards that have long term value in the format, these are the ones I would look at.
The factors I'm basing these decisions are: Power Level in Standard/Modern, where it could be reprinted (name, keyword based), and if it's a unique effect. What I'm giving you are just some thoughts as we know that WotC does strange things with reprinting cards. They don't always reprint full cycles, nor do they always reprint it with the same name if they can get away with it.
I originally was going to take a look at the Commanders in the rotating sets and go from there but good news: most of them are already pretty cheap. Ignoring the few that are over a buck or two, we've had some good cheap Commanders for a while now.
And just a blanket statement: If you can grab foils, or at least feel comfortable with foils in your decks, then go with those. Sometimes they will be worth much more than the normal versions of the cards in the first place especially commons and uncommons.
Ready? Here we go:
This artifact has a really unique effect that makes it fun to play, but terrible to design around for Limited. It doesn't need a new name or art to be reprinted in a Core Set, but this card might set off too many alarm bells to see it in a Limited environment, because the number of enters the battlefield abilities need to be controlled. You see this card in Cubes and always at the top of list of cards to break in Constructed formats. It's great because it can go in any deck and it would seem perfect in a Commander deck or a Master set.
Of course, it won't be reprinted for 10 years just because.
Verdict: Pick them up when you can. I can see plenty of interest in this just like Doubling Season.
The flavor and art of the card limit this to a Commander or Masters type reprint. The best chance of this appearing is in a supplemental set near the release of the next time we have an Artifact-based set.
Verdict: If KCI gets banned in Modern soon, these should drop. Tutoring for artifacts is always powerful.
Another unique artifact that sees a ton of play in Commander. It will be reprinted a million times like Myr Battlesphere.
Verdict: Pick them up whenever.
The "Fast" Lands Cycle
This enemy cycle of lands finish the five lands cycle from the other artifact based plan: Mirrodin, er, New Phyrexia. They're all named so that they can be used on any plane and be fine, but just like those other lands, we won't see them reprinted anywhere else.
Aside: There are so many dual lands in Magic and Commander can use them all. You don't have to put in all the dual lands that match your color identity if you don't want to. Find what style fit your dck and run with them (yes, you don't need to have the original dual lands if you're not running anything to search them up). With the enemy lands, as with Kaladesh, we've traditionally seen less of them which make them a little more powerful than the friendly duals from Scars of MIrrodin. End Aside.
Is the fact that they're enemy lands the reason why they're run in so many Commander decks? Most likely. But the odds of you playing them on the first three turns are so small, you have to think of them as enters the battlefield tapped lands.
Verdict: They'll see play in Modern and some of the older constructed formats as budget alternatives. One day you'll wake up and see that they're $10 a piece and, wait, Blackcleave Cliffs is $55? Wow.
Pick up what you can. This is exactly why I'm writing this; I honestly didn't know that was this much.
This is where you might not see the full cycle printed at a time (you'll most likely see these reprinted in various Commander decks from time to time. By the number that are in current decklists, the order goes like: Black, Red, Blue, Green White. I don't think that's how powerful they are in Commander (Blue, Red, White, Black, Green), but it all depends on the deck they're in. They're fun splashy effects and have the unique colored artifact aspect which means they're out of Standard reprints.
Verdict: You can wait on these as we'll see them sometime. Example: the M11 Titans have all been reprinted in various products.
Fumigate: Unique Wrath effect. Should just have some on hand anyway.
Metallurgic Summonings: Will always become more powerful over time. Eventually we'll see it again.
Chandra, Torch of Defiance: Planeswalkers are always difficult to predict. It is Red "Draw", however. Maybe I'm just not sold on it in the format and it could totally be a personal thing.
Ghirapur Orrery: Will be a Group Hug staple that will never be reprinted (or in a very long time). Grab foils if you play that style of deck.
Animation Module: If Affinity runs with this in Modern, it will be hard to get this one again.
I love Stifle, and this is Counterspell plus Stifle. There's a number of good 3 CMC counters around for Commander, but this is one of the most versatile in mono-Blue (Voidslime in Green/Blue). But Voidslime has never been reprinted because there's been no good place to reprint it (do I smell a reprint this January?). Disallow should be reprinted sometime down the line but it won't be for a few years I imagine.
Verdict: Grab a couple of copies and sit on them if you play Blue.
This is a paradox to predict, since so many Commander players are calling for this to be banned because of how combo-centered it can be. It's good, so Commander players should have it in their decks, but don't go spending the money if you think it's going to be banned in the format. My gut says since the Rules Committee hasn't banned Deadeye Navigator, this won't get banned.
Verdict: The price may not go down and we might not see this for a number of years. However, since there is a Masterpiece and a prerelease stamped promo out there, it may be the foils that jump in price.
The Expertise cycle
Another cycle I doubt we'll see printed together. There's two that matter in Commander: Green (Draw cards) and Blue (Bounce artifacts).
Verdict: Ignore the other colors as they aren't really powerful enough for the format.
I'm placing these three together because they fit into so many decks, and in their case, sometimes the same deck. I'm not saying Elves, but I'm highly implying it. These are staples in most every deck that can run them. Green gets scrying and card draw? Done. Big mana decks have a way to control the board (Plus the wacky things you can do with +1/+1 counters)? Check. Tribal decks with +1/+1 counters. These will all be "Wait, weren't they just X price not too long ago?" type of cards.
Verdict: Lifecrafter's Bestiary will see print in a preconstructed deck sometime. Walking Ballista might dip in price for a little while after rotation, but it's used in non-rotating formats already so don't expect it to go too far down. Metallic Mimic has the best chance of being reprinted in a Core Set out of any of the cards we've seen today. But pick them up.
You know what card hasn't been reprinted since 8th Edition? Planar Portal. Been $4 for years. It's far from a bad card, just expensive to cast and use.
Verdict: No rush.
Heroic Intervention: Should go down, right? Right?
Scrap Trawler: Will be one of those care you were excited to see reprinted in a Masters set but won't be happy to open.
We're going to stop with the Kaladesh Block this week and focus on the Amonkhet Block next week. Like I said, it's the limbo period right before the new set and at the time of this writing, I don't know any more than I did last week. In my opinion, there's too much that can change before the full set is previewed to really dig into new/old decks.
Cards are rotating out of Standard and you can give them their forever decks in Commander. Players are going to abandon them out in the forest, and you can be there to pick them up. Help a little robot, er, card belong.