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Lions, Margins, and Rares . . . Oh My!


As many times as I have predicted the Lions to win the super bowl, you would assume one of these years I would be right—or at least close. Unfortunately, I have been betting on a lame duck of sorts, and although I have known that the whole time, it will always be my fault for being from the great state of Michigan. Now that you know my more unlikely prediction for this year, let’s move on and talk about Magic predictions . . . which have much a higher chance of scoring a touchdown.

In the past, I have covered format specific metagame shifts and what they can and should do on particular cards, but this time, I am rolling up my sleeves and diving into Magic as a whole. Last week, I touched on the end of Modern season and some possible reprints we may see this year; I didn’t go into much detail, and you asked for more, so here it is!

Modern Man

Breeding Pool
Last week, I talked about the possible reprints in Modern, touching on the subject of shock lands in particular. The format has certainly taken off this year and seems to be embraced with open arms now that the Banned List has leveled off. As a person who deals with investments and risk/reward equations all day every day, I am not much of a gambling man unless I have the statistics in front of me, but I would be willing to bet we see a reprint in the near future. I had originally thought of From the Vaults: Realms—which I will discuss in more detail later in the article—as a good vehicle for the lands’ reprinting.

After some more thought and words of my peers, it seems highly unlikely that this will actually occur for a plethora of reasons. First and foremost, that would make for an extremely boring From the Vaults; even if you were to give them all new art, the idea of a set being taken up almost completely by one cycle is unlikely. There is then the monetary issue: Though it has been proven that Wizards does not care about the retail value of these sets compared to the value of the cards within, they are still unlikely to print $250 or more in one of these. Since we can probably rule out that reprint, we are left with Avacyn Restored, M13, and the next block to see a possible reprint this year. I would not count out the possibility of seeing these lands in the next set just yet, but I don’t know that the flavor of the lands would mesh with the Innistrad theme as well as it could in other blocks—or core sets, where theme is less of a concern.

Next, we look at M13, which would, in my opinion, be the most likely reprint scenario since it has been confirmed that we are not returning to Ravnica in the fall. The big question from there becomes how they would print them—would they break the set in half and print them in both M13 and M14 or would they do a full ten-land cycle for the summer? I would assume given the history of core sets that we are likely to see a split, but Wizards has been doing some out-of-the-box thinking lately, so only time will truly tell.

Birthing Pod
Beyond the normal sets, we have a chance of seeing a Planechase or even Commander deck reprint, but I would bet against those possibilities considering stores already have trouble keeping the current ones in stock with Scavenging Ooze. I believe WotC’s intent is to give good cards for the price without completely shutting out the casual crowd because all of the competitive players have bought them out.

In other news when talking about Modern, we have a few decks that have been doing well in the past few weeks that I want to cover. We all know about Melira Pod by now, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any money to be made off the deck. With the coming rotation, we will probably see a drop in the already low price of the deck’s namesake: Birthing Pod. I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to going deep on this call for next year, when the deck will probably be a major player again in the meta.

A new deck that has just cropped up in the past few weeks on Magic Online is the R/G Tron deck that boasts a fairly consistent turn-three or turn-four Karn Liberated while being protected by cards like All is Dust and Pyroclasm. From the list’s I have seen, there aren’t a lot of sleeper cards in the deck, but if you can find reasonable prices on cards like Karn or All is Dust, they may be worth picking up for next year. Dredging through your old commons and uncommons for those Urzatron lands is also a great way to make a few free dollars as the price may not change, but the demand on these $2 to $3 lands should skyrocket if this deck shows staying power.

Realms Uncharted

With the upcoming From the Vault set on the horizon, it is time to lay down the information we have and make some predictions. Although my Super Bowl called shots have not been that stellar in the past, I do have a pretty reasonable record when it comes to these sets. First, let’s cover the information we already have:

  • There will be a new land from the next block.
  •  . . . That’s all we have for now.

Beyond these two things, we also know that there will be fifteen new premium cards total, seven of which will have new art including an already released picture of a snowy chasm. From that, I would guess we are going to see a Glacial Chasm reprint. So, now that we have a basis for what we do know, I am going to make some predictions with reasoning as to why I feel the card deserves a reprint.

New Land

Glacial Chasm
Glacial Chasm

Command Tower Though we are already seeing a judge reprint, I could certainly see this being an inclusion considering almost every Commander deck needs one and it is a relatively cheap card that would appease everyone allowing for more specific cards to be printed in the set without driving away certain crowds.

Reliquary Tower The price on this card is insane considering it is almost solely a Commander card and an uncommon in a relatively new set. Similar to Command Tower, this is a fairly neutral and cheap land that would make for an easy reprint.

Mutavault Tribal Commander decks are among the most popular types for the casual crowd, and dropping $30 for this land is not usually in the cards for those players. In addition, we would see a reprint of a heavily played Modern and Legacy card, which can only help those formats become more accessible for those new players. I would love to see this as one of the altered arts making, it not only a cheap, but cool way to pimp out existing decks.

Academy Ruins So many decks from Commander to Legacy use this utility land to great effect, whether returning an Engineered Explosives or a Darksteel Reactor. The price on this card is fairly reasonable considering the play it sees, which makes it a solid reprint for the midrange cards we have seen in the past such as Aether Vial.

Evolving Wilds Every From the Vault set has to have a few generic lands that, although cheap, are still played heavily in a variety of formats. Evolving Wilds would get the nod for me in this spot considering its Standard legality, making for a cool foil that can see current play.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth Another Modern-playable card that extends into a variety of formats, creating accessibility and lowering the currently high price. Although this is one of my less likely picks, I still feel it holds enough merits to be given the nod, and it’s one of the cards I would love to see with another art.

Wirewood Lodge Of all the tribes in Magic, Elves has to be the most popular among the casual crowd. This inclusion would appease that crowd while at the same time acting as solid filler, allowing for higher-end cards to be printed. An alternate art would also create a demand among the casual players who currently only have the one even with there already being a reprint.

Tower of the Magistrate
Tower of the Magistrate A great utility land that has begun seeing Legacy play in the past six months, Tower of the Magistrate, is another fairly neutral card that appeases a variety of players and drops the price of the old one only helping Legacy further.

Ancient Tomb Although City of Traitors is also a valid choice in this spot, I believe far fewer players are likely to run City in a Commander, deck making Ancient Tomb the correct choice. A great, cheap mana ramp of sorts never hurts in Commander, and with a reasonable price on the never-before-reprinted card means we aren’t breaking the budget limit either. As with Tower and a few other cards listed, this also lowers the price for those looking into Legacy decks—while only $10 currently, in the grand scheme of things, every dollar counts.

Temple of the False God Another filler card that sees enough Commander play to warrant a spot while at the same time giving the opportunity for some awesome alternate-art possibilities. I am not sure they would print two double-mana lands in this set, but these abilities are far enough apart that I believe the inclusion of both would be acceptable.

City of Brass What better way to show love to all the colors of the mana wheel than to reprint the iconic City? Falling in line with reprints like Strip Mine, the price of the FTV version may even surpass all but the original printing. I am not sure I would want an alternate art, but I would love to see the original art restored for those who played back in the day and remember this card in all its glory.

Stalking Stones One of the first man lands, I would not be at all surprised to see this inclusion if for nothing but nostalgic reasons. An alternate art is certainly due, and what better way than in full, foil glory.

Many have speculated that the big card in Realms will probably be Karakas, and while this is viable, I don’t think Wizards will drive the major selling point as a card that is banned in Commander. Other options I had thought of such as Gaea's Cradle are on the reserved list, so those are also unlikely. From there, we look to lands that have never been reprinted and still have a high value while staying on the right side of the Banned List. We have:

. . . Yeah, there is nothing.

On that note, we start looking at cards that have been reprinted, are still in demand, will sell the box, and are not on the reserved list. This leaves us with:

Maze of Ith

If I had to take a bet, I would guess Maze of Ith, since it only has a single reprinting and is an acceptable one-of in most decks that run it rather than Wasteland that, outside of Commander, is typically a two- to four-of. I wouldn’t count Wasteland out yet, but Maze of Ith takes my cake, giving you everything you want from this set while not breaking the bank as far as dollar value goes.

Join me next week, when I talk about Standard and the inevitable rotation that is fast approaching. Let me know what you guys think in regards to the Modern prices and From the Vaults: Realms called shots. What’s your list, and what faults do you see in mine? I look forward to hearing everyone’s opinion in the world of speculation. Until next week, keep speculating and hope for the Lions . . . it may be our year!

Ryan Bushard


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