Spoiled Battle

The Battle for Zendikar is drawing near. Which "old" cards will profit the most from the new Standard environment.

What are you waiting for?

The Battle for Zendikar spoiler is complete and the market has started responding to that knowledge, although we still have to wait some longer until we can actually get those cards. But don't despair - your first chance for some tentacle action will be at Prereleases around the world this weekend. For most of the good cards your first chance to get them at a comparably cheap price has passed. You will get another short window of opportunity starting with the Prerelease until the first “new Standard” results will start coming in from SCG Opens and other big events, which will cause the next wave of price alterations. So start brewing and complete your decks in time to join MKM's Battle for Prague October 16-18! It is time for the next MKM Series event, where you can once again compete in all the big Constructed formats. I will be there myself, working on the coverage team. We are planning to provide English video coverage this time, so make sure to tune in if you aren't in Prague yourself!


Finding the sleeper or under-priced cards in a set is normally great, but Battle for Zendikar was making it harder for us due to the Expeditions cards' unpredictable influence on prices. This will remain a problem, until we start getting empirical values for their rarity and prices start to stabilize. So far the Expedition cards are only listed in very small numbers and are selling in varying amounts. While multiple Steam Vents have been sold between 115 € and 140 €, Overgrown Tomb has not been moving at all despite starting at 75 €. At the moment blue fetchlands are priced twice as much as non-blue ones, regardless of whether they are reprints from Onslaught/Khans or Zendikar. I expect the trends to become less chaotic soon, hopefully turning the Expeditions from high risk - high reward into more predictable assets.

If you add up all the total values for the regular rares and mythics or look at the prices for complete sets, they are not very different from other recent sets, which means that the Expeditions cards have not depressed the value of the regular set, yet. This leaves us in the awkward situation that cards like the battle lands and planeswalkers feel like they should cost more than they do now due to their power level, but due to the value of Expeditions cards might even have to go down in the long run.

It makes more sense to look for cards from other sets that get a push because of some cards in Battle for Zendikar. Here are some examples:

The Khans fetchlands have started their inevitable ascend early due to the battle-lands. I expect all the “new Standard” mana bases to use 8-15 fetchlands in the next 6 months, making them the most important cards of the format. Polluted Delta has gained 4 € in a single month, while the other fetchlands gained 2 € as well. In the old Standard format most decks only used four fetchlands, therefore some players might have missed buying all twenty when they should have. If you have additional copies and were aiming for short-term gains, you should sell at the local maximum during the next 3-4 months before the next rotation will stop the upward trend again, at least for a while.

Harabaz Druid and to a lesser extend some other allies from the first Zendikar block have been selling well in anticipation of the additional allies in BfZ. The problem is that most of the new allies have turned out to be much worse than the old ones. Now the old ones are sitting at inflated prices and investors have to hope that their tribal bet receives additional help in Oath of the Gatewatch, the second set of the block. There are a lot of other tribal decks to use your Cavern of Souls and Æther Vial in, so I don't see allies breaking out in Modern any time soon. You can probably build a viable version, but with 20+ other viable Modern decks to chose from, why would you want another Sliver/Merfolk variant? I would rather sell into the hype now instead of hoping for a miracle in Oath of the Gatewatch.

1 Comment

RetroMagic(2015-09-22 05:16)

Thank you for the insight concerning the harabaz druid, i agree with the 'hype' sentiment.

A whole other topic though: concerning the rise of alpha and beta power and rare cards the last few years: Do you think the same will happen now (and the coming year or 2) for arabian nights, antiquties and to a lesser extent Legends?

I think that the number of pure 'collectors' is on the rise. That and the dwindling supply of these cards could cause them to steadily and consistently rise of the next few years.. An article about these old series would be great :)