Tough lead question: what was your favorite card printed in 2021?
Don't get me wrong, this is hard to answer for a reason. Including reprints, there were over 3,700 unique cards printed last year! It is no surprise I need a multi-part series to cover everything, but that's just what I'm going to do.
One of the best times of each year to buy staples at a discount is the winter/holiday season ranging from Black Friday in the USA (great deals & bonus buck promotions) to the early part of February. There's a lot of subjective reasoning for this: people are buying presents for the holidays; taking trips and time off of work; vendors are preparing for tax season; and of course, no new MTG sets are typically released during this window.
I use this time every year to buy cards that pique my interest, and while I know they will take 3+ months to rebound, I also know that this window tends to create some of the best buying opportunities we get for MTG cards.
What Lies Ahead
My article in its outline format indicates I'll be able to take you through all the important MTG cards of 2021. I'm going to cover everything from commons to rares, Commander precons to Standard sets, Unsanctioned to Modern Horizons 2, and so on. I know there is a lot of "year in review" content out there, so I'm putting my own spin on mine to ensure it is unique and useful.
Each card I draw attention to will be done through three lenses:
- Commander and non-commander playability
- Analysis of the price trend (i.e. MTG finance analysis)
- … and why I think the card is a buy, sell, or hold
My goal is to inform you about the cards I like and dislike with the goal of helping you to make a more-informed decision during your next speculation and/or deck building purchases. There are going to be plenty of cards in this series that you should be buying now to ensure you aren't paying more later. Conversely, there will also be several which I advise against purchasing now because I foresee them dropping in the future.
Please note: every card mentioned in here is a card I've reviewed personally for speculation purposes. Anything marked as a Buy or Hold will be a card I have money invested into, and I will always disclose my purchase. Anything marked as a Sell is a card that 1) I view as being overvalued 2) I am concerned about reprint risk 3) has spiked and I sold out already (ex: Curiosity Crafter).
Part 1: Bulk to Binder
The MTG community is never short on frustration toward how expensive the game can be, so any time we can buy impactful cards for less than $2 feels nice. It's even better when these cards turn into $5+ cards later because of the increased trade value when the time comes to move on.
Let's see if we can identify a few such scenarios by reviewing some cards from 2021 that are still under this threshold. Please note: this isn't a "top cards under $2" list, but rather these are some cards under $2 which I found to be the most thought-provoking and worth discussing.
Let's get to it!
#1. Toralf, God of Fury - Kaldheim (Price as of 2/13/22: $1.99)
As you can see above in the caption under Toralf's photo, I am all about the direction WotC has been taking mono-red since Throne of Eldraine. I have talked about Torbran on our Brewin' With Conviction podcast before because I have a deck built around him, and it is among my favorite brews in my collection. The way WotC has committed to making burn a viable strategy in commander warms my heart; it was the first competitive strategy I employed during my earliest days playing Magic, and I still have the deck sleeved to this day (7th Edition block counter-burn).
It seems I'm not alone, either!
Check out @coach_j_ro's reply to my Tweet where I asked the community to share their favorite cards from last year...
"This is the happiest a card revelation has ever made me. I wanted an aggressively-costed spellslinger commander from Lorehold, & was disappointed by it.
Right when I was about to give up on an aggressive burn deck ever finding a commander, Rem came along and stole my heart!"
Challenging yourself to find outs and win in burn is, in my opinion, only one notch lower on the "skill intensive" list than some of the most challenging combo lines in MTG history (see: `Ad Nauseum`, `The Gitrog Monster`).
The thing about burn in any MTG format is it requires an immense amount of skill to pilot to perfection. You have to be on top of your game with every single line of play you make, and the margin for error is the smallest of any strategy there is because of how important every point of damage ends up being.
I always would encourage an aspiring tourney grinder to give burn a long, hard look as a way to develop some of the intangible skills needed to be a top-tier pro MTG player.
With that all in mind, I chose to talk about Toralf because pack non-foils can be found for $1.99 (writer's note: Toralf was $1.50 when this article first premiered on 1/13/2022 via the Conviction Gaming Patreon), and I find that to be a really great price-point if you want to explore a burn deck of your own. I mentioned two of the top burn commander options above, and I highly recommend either one.
I will admit: I am not sure I'd suggest Toralf as a commander, though he'd probably be viable. I do, however, find him to be an ideal inclusion in any 99 where your primary strategy is to win through burn spells (i.e., non-combat damage).
I am marking Toralf as a buy if you can somehow find any copies for $1.25 (they're mostly $1.50+ everywhere I looked online, including Cardsphere's last traded price). If you already got in at that price in 2021 (it was possible last summer), hold on to them in 2022.
The target sell price for this card should be $4-5 but it will take 12-18 months to get there based on organic demand. Should there be another burn commander printed in 2022, then it will reach the target sooner. Kaldheim was a bit of a letdown from a power-level perspective, but the EDH gold in the set is pretty deep, so eventually the supply of the set that's out there will begin to dry up. When it does, Toralf will go up as part of the "rising tide".
#2. Wolverine Riders - Kaldheim Commander (Price as of 2/13/22: $2)
If you haven't noticed, the Elven Empire commander deck from Kaldheim sells for $40+. Jesus Garcia called this as a great sealed pickup at $25 during our Kaldheim spoiler review in Feb. 2021 on the Brewin' With Conviction podcast.
Kudos to you if you 1) listened to us back then and 2) followed the call.
During that same spoiler review, we talked about two cards in the Elven Empire deck as being fantastic singles to pick up, and one of those has already hit (`Pact of Serpent`, called by Jesus at $0.50 --> sells for $6+ now).
The other card we talked about was Wolverine Riders, and it's easy to see why when you compare it to the Goblin version from Game Nights 2019 that sells for nearly $8 now!
It is worth noting that the Game Nights products weren't a well-known skew, and they were discontinued by WotC after only a few years. This leads me to believe the supply on them is probably lower than something like Commander: Kaldheim precons, but only time will tell.
Elves are one of the most popular tribes in MTG history, and they generally lack top-end pieces (
Craterhoof Behemoth aside). Ramping into
Wolverine Riders is totally feasible by turn 3-4 in an Elf deck, and it's the type of remove-on-sight power-house that can end a game if left unchecked for a cycle around the table.
I have been arbitraging Goblin Goliath from EU to US for over a year now, and I plan to do the same with Wolverine Riders given their comparability. You can find the latter under $1 in some cases, but even in the $1.25-1.50 range, this will be a slam dunk pick over the next couple years barring a reprint.
I'm calling Wolverine Riders a buy at or below $1.50 with a hold time of 12-16 months, and an exit of $5+ by the end of the hold time.
#3. Storm-Kiln Artist - Strixhaven (Price as of 2/13/22: $1.95)
I tweeted about SKA not too long ago to highlight how powerful it truly is, and to call out the price of another powerful uncommon I think compares favorably to it long-term (
Pitiless Plunderer ).
Since tweeting on January 12th, more than 400 copies have sold from TCGPlayer alone, all at or under $2. I called this as being $5 by June 2022, but it's realistic to think that will happen even sooner, especially if
Storm-Kiln Artist shows up in any format outside commander.
Disclosure: I have over 100 copies of SKA acquired for less than $1/each in 2021, so you can tell I am very bullish, and certainly a bit biased. That said, I rarely buy this many copies of a single card, so it should be viewed as a statement of confidence in how fast I expect
Storm-Kiln Artist to rise.
Given the price trend shown above, I would not necessarily recommend buying this as a spec right now because the margin for error is a lot lower than it was when you could get the card for $0.50. That said, if you are reading this from a player perspective, the $2 price tag is still reasonable, and I would suggest making sure you have your copies ready to go in case this pops higher in the future. The most important advice I can give is that the price of
Storm-Kiln Artist will not trend down materially until it gets a reprint, and we have no idea when that will happen.
Given the significant demand on this card, there's little risk to buy your copies for play right now. At worst, a reprint puts it back in the $0.50-1 range. At worst, it doesn't get reprinted for multiple years and turns into another $10+ uncommon. I'll let you weigh your decision from here, but my recommendation is as follows: buy if you're a player for $2; hold if you bought in already; do not sell copies right now unless you absolutely must.
June 2022 --> targeting $5 exit for Storm-Kiln Artist. Firm HOLD
#4. Stuffy Doll - Time Spiral Remastered (Price as of 2/13/22: ~$2)
In the interest of space on my article, this pick is actually a very simple one: arbitrage! You can find
Stuffy Doll in the EU for less than $1, but in the US, this card is trending firmly back into the $2+ range, and should be closer to $5 by the end of the year barring another reprint. I have been hitting Stuffy Doll as a filler item for about six-months now, and on average, it nets me about $0.25-0.50 per copy via arbitraging.
This isn't a sexy pick, being a reprint from a reprint set, but money is money, and I like to share these little tidbits wherever I can as a way to highlight the different layers to my business model.
Firm BUY at $1 if you can find them.
#5. Blossoming Bogbeast (Extended Art) - C21 (Price as of 2/13/22: $1.75)
Who would have ever guessed that you can sell a Blossoming Bogbeast Extended Art on TCG Direct for $5!? (I did, I did!). And it is true, I just started moving these at that price within a few days of writing this article (originally published in January).
I had to go back and check because I couldn't believe these had appreciated so much in short order. I was buying this card for as little as $0.25 just six months ago when C21 and AFR first dropped!
Why did I buy it, though? The reason is pretty simple: Craterhoof-like effects are coveted in EDH, and lifegain is a popular strategy. I felt the Extended Art was also very attractive from an aesthetics perspective, so I decided to take a chance on this being a "bulk-to-binder" pick.
You can still find the Extended Art version for $1-1.50 if you look around, and they are still decently ripe for picking in the overseas markets as well. I am not going to recommend speccing too hard on this card at or above $1.50, but if you are a TCG Direct seller like me, make sure to have a few of these in stock at all times.
If you are a player and just learned about this card for the first time, pick up the pack non-foil found in the precon for less than $1. And trust me, cards like this constantly slip through the cracks because we deal with spoilers in perpetuity all year long.
Here's a quick look at the chart for good measure:
My evaluation on
Blossoming Bogbeast is that you should be buying at or under $1.50 if you are a TCG Direct seller and can find them for that price. If you are a player, this is still a fine time to get a copy, though you could save around $1 just by going with the base-version instead. If you're like me and specced early, list 'em for $5 and wait for them to sell.
The time is now!
As I mentioned on Twitter, there are so many cards to cover in this series, so I will be making this into a multi-part mini-series, likely covering my Patreon content into Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty spoiler season.
Jesus and I dropped a podcast episode using the buy/sell/hold format to ensure we're able to cover a wide net of them. We won't repeat any cards from my articles and vice versa, so be sure to check out both mediums of content to ensure you're up to speed on all of our information.