Back for round two of my buy/sell/hold series, and this time I'm ready to talk about more well-known cards from 2021. If you read part 1, you know I gave some deeper tracks that might not be as obvious to the naked eye. This time around, I'll be covering some of the more played cards from last year which I believe are either over or undervalued. As with any of my MTG finance articles, I'll provide analysis for cards looking at both the playability and price, and of course, I'll disclose if I have a position.
Part 2: Sifting Through the Good Stuff
In my first article, I attempted to identify some "bulk to binder" cards, so this time around I'm going to be focusing on stuff that should already be in your binder.
All of the cards in this article are $3 or more at the time of writing, and they're all cards which are counted in a significant amount of decks according to EDHREC (>10K minimum).
Finally, these are all cards that I've had on my watchlist since they were first released last year. Some I purchased a while ago; others I sold already; and a couple I haven't bought at all. You'll see this info disclosed for each card, including some of my sales data if applicable.
Let's dive in!
Kaldheim: a Treasure Trove for Commander
If you listened to Episode 64 of the Brewin' With Conviction podcast already, then you know I am bullish on Kaldheim for the long haul. It is one of the deepest sets from a commander-playability perspective that we've had in a long time, and the quality of cards at every rarity level will help propel prices up once it is out of print.
I cover Kaldheim thoroughly in our podcast episode, so in the interest of encouraging you to listen to that, I am only going to cover one card here:
The World Tree.
Mana-fixing continues to get easier with each passing set, and it is becoming more challenging to decipher what "fixers" are actually worth pursuing vs. which ones will be outclassed in a few years. This is a symptom of the homogenization problem we're experiencing in EDH.
If The World Tree was printed a decade ago, I believe it would have been a staple alongside
Chromatic Lantern in any 5C deck. As fate would have it, though, it was printed into an era where 5C mana-fixing is second nature due to all the new land cycles and the existence of
The World Tree is fortunate that it is a land which taps to add the most commonly used mana in commander. Because of this, it is such a low opportunity cost that it could almost always have a slot set aside in 5C decks. It also helps that you can find copies for $3 while other fixers with a similar effect (Chromatic Lantern,
City of Brass,
Mana Confluence, etc.) generally cost around $10-20 each. There are a lot of budget-conscious players out there, and, as a result, impersonators like The World Tree do tend to appreciate well over long horizons (2+ years).
While I am not sure I would play this card unless I am leaning into "God tribal", I do think it makes for a great buy/sell/hold example since it has to contend with so many other fixers in our increasingly-homogenized format.
- Budget friendly
- Low opportunity cost land that taps for the most common color in commander (green)
- Homogenization is pushing out cards that would have been staples years ago
- Mana fixing is getting easier, so TWT isn't a "must-have" for 5C decks like it might have been a few years ago
I'm marking The World Tree as a hold with downside to sell should we see more mana-fixing in 2022. It currently sits around $3.50-$4, and I think that's a fine price if you need a copy for a deck, but I am not bullish on this card from a speculation perspective.
Full disclosure: I have eight (8) copies of TWT Extended Art which I acquired in 2021 for $8.50/ea. I also have a playset of pack non-foils acquired at $5/ea. around the same time last year (yep, currently in the red on this one!).
Digging for Value: Commander 2021
Both of the cards I want to discuss from C21 are mono white:
Monologue Tax (EDHREC: 11K) and
Archaeomancer's Map (21K).
First, I think it is important to recognize the improvements in design for mono white cards that took place in 2021. We still see the usual challenge for white which is that it plays reactively and is tasked always with "catching up" rather than accelerating. However, Monologue Tax and Archaeomancer's Map both do something I really enjoy - they take white's "taxing" mantra and apply it in a way that can lead to some really explosive turns. They're also both built favorably to provide support in multi-color decks, something I think mono-white cards have been missing in the past.
Interestingly enough, Monologue Tax is about half the price of Archaeomancer's Map while showing up proportionally in about half as many decks on EDHREC. I know this is likely just an anomaly, but it does make for any interesting example of how EDHREC counts do have some merit as a data-point in MTG finance.
I really like the long-term trajectory of both cards, and I am marking both as buy & hold. I haven't invested into either one, but I am planning to acquire 25-50 copies of Monologue Tax for around $4/ea. and similarly doing the same for Archaeomancer's Map around $11. If I can't find them at or below those specific dollar amounts, I'll be passing. The margins on these will be too slim and the hold time would grow too much for me to want to buy in any higher than that.
I think given a year, both of these cards could double. They're debatably the premier chase cards from the C21 set meaning people will be buying & opening the precons specifically for these (think
Deflecting Swat +
Fierce Guardianship in 2020). Eventually the well of sealed product will dry up, and when it does, expect these to appreciate forever into the future until they get a reprint.
One additional note: I love the Extended Arts as well, and may look to buy a few copies for 110-120% the prices I mentioned above on pack non-foils.
The Impact of Strixhaven's Mystical Archives
One of the best phenomena of chase cards in Standard sets is what it does to the rest of the set's expected value. As a player, I love how cheap cards get because collectors are cracking boxes looking for specific cards. This is the case with Strixhaven, and it makes for a wonderful opportunity to get some of the best cards printed in 2021 for a great price!
I already covered
Storm-Kiln Artist in Part 1, so I'm going to pivot to a couple rares which are deserving of your money and a place in 1+ of your decks.
I have never not been impressed by the power of
Culling Ritual (EDHREC: 16K) when I've seen it hit the table. Being able to turn your tokens into mana while also wiping the board free from everyone else's Sol Rings and Arcane Signets is no joke. While it is narrowed some by being in the B/G color pie, tokens did get stronger last year thanks to
There are also some super fun shenanigans to be had when piloting 5C group hug strategies that give your opponents tokens (see:
I'm not necessarily rushing out to buy this, but pack non-foils are around $3 which feels like a fine price if you need a copy. I already made solid returns on the Extended Art version; I bought 24 non-foils for $2-3 and 16 foils for $6-7 both shortly after Strixhaven released. I've since sold all bought a handful of these, non-foils for $8-10 and foils for $15-17. The secret was identifying the potential of Culling Ritual before swaths of players and content creators caught on.
I am giving Culling Ritual "hold" status since it is only likely to drop in price once it sees a reprint. I think there is still enough STX supply coming into the market right now (due to Mystical Archives) that prevents it from being a buy. And I also think B/G token popularity could cool off enough that we see more copies eventually return to the secondary markets via buylist.
The price graph should remain stable with the cards increasing gradually over time. It shouldn't be due for reprint until 2023, and it could easily become a buy before that if another B/G token commander is spoiled.
This is a colorless tax effect that, in a pinch, doubles as a group hug
Dig Through Time for lands and instant/sorceries. The flexibility (it is Colorless!!!) of
Wandering Archaic is enough of a reason to mark this as a firm buy in my mind. It already shows up in 23K decks according to EDHREC, and I would expect that number to only grow over time. I currently run it in my
Kalamax deck and it is gas there, powering up my commander off opponents' instants, and serving as a way to take advantage of their fun draw or destroy spells.
I've never been disappointed with drawing Wandering Archaic, either. The flip side is a 3 MV draw spell that, in the context of my Kalamax deck, has helped me find the final piece needed to close out the game (recently, I cast
Explore the Vastlands to land my copy of
Savage Beating and secure a win before my opponent could untap with a countered-up
I am the deepest on this card compared to any I've written about in my first two articles, and it is one I won't hesitate to pick up more copies of to cost average my buy price down further. Currently, I am sitting on about 80 non-foils purchased at $6/ea. and another 12 Extended Art non-foils purchased at $10. I also have four Extended Art foils purchased for $17/ea. (however, two of these are in my personal collection).
I am a firm buy on Wandering Archaic at $5-6, and I think it has the upside of becoming a $15 card if not reprinted by Summer 2023. There are plenty of copies in my target buy range still available, and it is possible I will buy another 20-40 copies soon to cost average my buy-price under $6.
I do find it to be a great candidate for a Secret Lair, so tread lightly and go in with your eyes wide open to reprint risk. My goal is to flip the 80 copies I currently have in inventory for around $10-12 via TCG Direct later in 2022. I am hopeful this call will hit around August, and that prediction is driven by the continuous natural, organic demand from commander players.
Part 2 of my buy/sell/hold series is complete. I hope you enjoyed it! If you missed Part 1, circle back and check it out.
I will be dropping part 3 soon, and I will be using that article to exclusively discuss Modern Horizons 2... it's that deep of a set, and there's just too much to cover!