Rotation Means Value!

Cliff Daigle • August 29, 2019

Here we are, rotation time. Remember when the plan was to have rotation happen every three months? At least every set would have gotten the same amount of time in the sun, and we’d have a constant flow of new cards coming in to match the amount of cards coming out.

Those days are long gone, though, and didn’t last one rotation as it was.

Now though, we have a honkin’ rotation happening. Ixalan block, Dominaria, and Magic 2019 are all leaving Standard, which means people are going to be dumping the cards in order to get what they can.

Our goal, as savvy traders, is to pick things up at their lowest so that we can trade them away again when they have gone back up. Rotation is one of the times when a card’s price is pushed down, and often farther than it needed to be pushed.

For instance, let’s look at Walking Ballista:


We can see a couple of clear dips in its price, dips that corrected within a couple of months. Rotation was such a dip, and the card has rebounded nicely. If you’d bought $8 Ballistas a year ago, you’ve doubled your value!

This works for casual cards too. How about Anointed Procession?


Procesion has never really had a chance to be cheap, thanks to fringe Standard playability and a LOT of casual interest. Still, $7 was the buy-in about a year ago, and it’s gone up by about 100% since then.

So what are the candidates in the current setting? We are looking for good cards whose Standard decks are leaving them behind. It’s going to make me feel better if there’s some levels of Modern/Legacy play.

Omniscience ($8 nonfoil/$25 foil/$100 Invocation)

I averaged the foil prices, it is about $19 for a M19 foil and $30 for a foil from Magic 2013 six years earlier. Before the reprint, this was about to set a new high above $35, but has fallen off. No one is playing this in Standard, it’s sometimes part of Show and Tell decks. It has a very loyal following online, about 5% of decks listed on EDHREC have a copy.

A $10 gap in prices between the foils is a good sign. Exploit that accordingly. There’s room for Omniscience to be a $25/$60 card if it’s not printed again.

Sarkhan, Fireblood ($6/$13)

I like tribal cards as long-term holds. This and Dragon’s Hoard are excellent in dedicated Dragon decks, and before long, they will print a good Dragon enabler. I’m higher on the foils, given the relatively low buy-in price, but I’m not expecting fast returns on this card.

Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain ($2/$10)

Usually, the foil multiplier on a card is around 2.5 or 3x the nonfoil price. Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain is five times as expensive, and that’s because Jhoira is super popular as a build-around artifact legend card. A lot of Dominaria has a high multiplier, including foils of the Saga cards. Feel free to grab a few of those too.

Search for Azcanta ($8/$30/$50 buy-a-box version)

I’m a huge fan of the Buy-A-Box Mapsterpieces, a set of which will set you back less than $100, but regular Search has fallen out of favor lately and I’m no longer a buyer. The combination of Teferi, Time Raveler and Narset, Parter of Veils has really put UW decks to the test. How much card selection can they run? Is too much the same as not enough?

I want to see this card recover, but I fear it will take a long time.

Carnage Tyrant ($7/$13)

That’s a low foil multiplier for a card that sees some sideboard play in Modern. Carnage Tyrant is a mythic, so the quantities were never all that high to begin with. This was not in the Challenger Decks, and that bodes well. I want to see this drop further still, because there is some casual demand at play but mostly people are dumping their copies onto the market. I’d prefer to buy foils under $10, and I’d rather buy foils than nonfoils, given a price this low.

Ixalan Buddylands (roughly $3/$8 each)

Do not buy these and hope for value to be gained. The best thing you can do with cards in this quantity (they were printed three years in a row in Core Sets) is upgrade your Commander copies to foils, and wait for them to be sub-$1. They might not ever go that low from basic casual demand, but they are also a pain to unload right now. No one wants to trade for a card that/s about to be worthless. They might gain a dollar or two when reprinted, but that’s rarely worth the trouble.

The Immortal Sun ($15/$40)

The Immortal Sun is unlikely to ever be a huge casual card, as there is a huge cost when putting this into your deck. You’re either forgoing playing planeswalkers of your own or you’re hoping that you’ll never have this in hand as a dead card (or the ‘walker in hand as a dead card) as you’re playing Commander.

However, it’s a small-set mythic, one that has kept its price high even as the Standard demand was never huge. Someone is keeping this card above $10, and that number is falling fast. This has lost half its value in the past five months, and when it gets below $10 I’ll be thinking about buying a few copies.

Tendershoot Dryad ($3/$5)

Token cards are always going to have a happy place in Commander, and this is one of the best. There’s relatively few cards that trigger every upkeep, and the synergy of that ability plus the city’s blessing make this very, very necessary to destroy on sight. It’s never been big in Standard but has never gotten to be a $2 card, and I doubt it’s going to fall much farther. I’m an advocate of picking up some foils as a long-term hold.

Blood Sun ($1.50/$6)

Finally, we have an example of a card which will only get better as time passes. Every time they print a land with something good going on, they give it drawbacks. Blood Sun caused massive spikes in Lotus Vale and Scorched Ruins, because it turned off the drawbacks. Lotus Field gets amazing if this is in play, and that’s just the cards we know. Imagine if there was a land that comes into play untapped, it's a dual land, but you have to sacrifice a basic when it comes into play. (just pure speculation here!) Blood Sun makes that land into a dual land with no problems.

This doesn’t see play as a sideboard hoser, and it’s never going to be that. Instead, it’s an enabler of evading land problems, and that’s a flexible space. Having a few copies will be very profitable in the right preview season.