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Eternal Masters: Reserved List Cards to Consider

Today, out of the blue, we got some extremely exciting news. This summer, in the release slot sometimes occupied by Modern Masters, we'll be getting a brand new set called Eternal MastersWhile only two cards have been spoiled so far, they are two of the most powerful cards ever printed:

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Beyond the stunning new Force of Will and the desolate Wasteland, we really have no idea what else will be in Eternal Masters. The announcement mentions Cube and Commander staples, along with Vintage and Legacy, so the possibilities are nearly endless. However, we do have a list of cards that will not be in the set: anything on the Reserved List

There's been a ton to talk about the release of Eternal Masters, including what it means for Legacy and Vintage, what it signals from Wizards of the Coast, and the financial ramifications for the cards that end up being in the set. But these will have to be topics for another day after I've had time to think about things some more. Today, we are going to focus on level one of Eternal Masters: Reserved List cards. 

The Impact of Eternal Masters on Reserved List Cards

While I would like to say that it will be cheaper for players to buy into Legacy, this likely will not be the case. While the cards that are reprinted will be cheaper (at least for a while), the format as a whole will likely stay about the same or even increase in price. If you look a Modern decks when a Modern Masters set is released, often the decks end up getting more expensive due to a limited reprinting — whether or not there will be enough new demand for Legacy is a factor to consider, and that may end up being a reason that Eternal Masters impact things differently than Modern Masters. While the cards in the Eternal Masters will decrease in price, what typically happens is that the prices of others cards in the format increase as the proud new owners of Force of Will buy the rest of the pieces to complete their decks. 

With Modern Masters, things are often held in check from the time the set is announced until it is spoiled because we have no idea what cards will or won't be included; it's risky to buy something only to find out a month or two later that it will indeed be reprinted. But this won't be the case with Eternal Masters. The fact that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that nothing on the Reserved List will be in Eternal Masters means that prices for these cards will likely start to rise sooner rather than later as speculators invest and players try to pick up the Reserved List staples to take advantage of the new supply of cards from Eternal Masters. So if you are planning on buying a Legacy deck to take advantage of Eternal Masters, you are going to want to get your Reserved List cards as quickly as possible because they will soon be on the rise. 

So let's take a few minutes to break down the Legacy staples that are on the Reserved List. These are the cards you are going to want to target today if you are planning on buying into Legacy when Eternal Masters releases this summer.

Dual Lands

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Barring a surprise announcement that the original dual lands are banned in Legacy (which would be great for the format, but is probably unlikely), this cycle is the price of entry into Legacy. Seriously, if you read only one sentence of this entire article, read this one: if you are planning on playing Legacy, you need to buy the dual lands and you need to do it soon. 

Just how expensive the duals end up getting remains to be seen, but they are currently $50 to $100 less expensive than they were in the recent past, so gaining this back seems likely and going even higher certainly isn't out of the question. Remember, these are cards that Wizards has promised to never reprint again, and they seem to be taking that promise seriously since they aren't breaking it for Eternal Masters. As such, people feel safe investing in these cards since they have a strong long-term track record and the risk is considerably lower than cards that aren't on the Reserved List. 

Lion's Eye Diamond

A staple in Legacy Storm and Dredge, Lion's Eye Diamond is the second-most played Reserved List card in Legacy behind the dual lands. While it's already pushing $100, it seems poised to climb significantly higher for one important reason: if you are looking to buy into Legacy for the first time, Storm and Dredge are two of the least expensive competitive options. Plus, well-known Storm player Adam Prosak was the lead designer on Eternal Masters, so it seems unlikely he would forget to include some goodies for one of his favorite decks; the more Storm cards that are reprinted, the more room Lion's Eye Diamond has to grow. As such, if you think that Storm or Dredge might be your entry way into Legacy, get your copies now before they end up $150 (or more) this summer. If you are just out for financial gain, Lion's Eye Diamond is likely one of the best non-dual land Reserved List cards to buy at the moment, assuming you can afford the up-front cost. 

Mox Diamond

Mox Diamond shows up in a lot of strange places in Legacy. It's a staple in the Lands deck, but occasionally appears in Punishing Abzan, Death and Taxes and even the new Eldrazi deck. While I like it slightly less than some of the other options, just because Lands (it's only guaranteed four-of home) is on a bit of a downswing lately and the other decks often play only a single copy, it's still a solid card to own if you are looking to build a Legacy collection. 

It's also a key card in many cubes, so if you plan is to use Eternal Masters as a starting point to build your own cube, you probably should pick up at least a one copy now to hedge your bet against a future increase. Like pretty much all of the other Reserved List cards we are talking about, it's has no place to go but up. This said, it is unique because it's one of a handful of Reserved List cards printed in a From the Vault release (using a foil loophole), so the supply is comparatively high.

City of Traitors

Played in Sneak and Show, MUD, Imperial Painter and several other tier two/three decks, we only have to look to Modern and Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch to see how powerful lands that tap for two-mana can be. If you are planning on building one of the above decks, or you have a lot of faith that Eldrazi will take off in the format, I'd make picking up copies of City of Traitors a priority. Otherwise, we have Ancient Tomb as a budget substitute that could show up in Eternal Masters. If you are going to play a deck that needs more than four Sol lands, get your City of Traitors soon. But if you are just playing casually or need less than four, Ancient Tomb is a fine substitute (and is likely a better choice for some number of decks). 

Gaea's Cradle

Pretty much only used in Elves, Gaea's Cradle is already quite expensive at over $150 a pop, but could still have room to grow. At first glance Elves looks expensive at over $1800, there are a few reasons to think it could work its way into the entry-deck category for people picking up Legacy for the first time this summer (which would benefit Gaea's Cradle). First, pretty much everything else in the deck is available to be reprinted in Eternal Masters and there is some chance that Elves is one of the draft archetypes in the limited-focused set. If this happens and the rest of the deck gets less expensive, Gaea's Cradle will be in for a big increase to fill in the gap. Second, the rest of the Elves deck isn't as expensive as it looks. Discounting Gaea's Cradle, about half of the deck's price is tied up in two copies of Bayou and four Verdant Catacombs. Considering the way the deck functions, I don't think you lose all that much by playing Overgrown Tomb in the Bayou slot, and you lose nothing by turning Verdant Catacombs into Windswept Heath since every fetchable land in the deck is a Forest. Third, Modern Elves player will have a fairly easy time porting over the deck, since some of the cards are the same and the way the decks play is fairly similar, which could increase demand for Gaea's Cradle even more. Finally, some people just really, really love Elves.

Other Reserve List Cards of Note

  • Null Rod (current price: $13.20) is one of the most played Reserved List cards in the format, but it is exclusively sideboard material and typically a one-of (unlike Stony Silence in Modern, which is more heavily played). While I could imagine it ticking up slightly, I don't think people will need more than one copy (if that), so major price movement is unlikely. 
  • Grim Monolith (current price: $33.46) and Metalworker (current price: $28.23) are the definition of archetype staples, seeing play exclusively in MUD decks. However, there is some hype for the colorless Eldrazi reviving the archetype, which has been in the tier 2.5 range for a while. Like Elves, there is also some potential that these cards take off thanks to Modern players porting over their decks to Legacy. If you have the Modern Eldrazi deck, you aren't that far away from making some sort of Legacy MUD/Eldrazi deck. The problem is that these cards only see play in this one deck, so if the Eldrazi do not catch on, there probably won't be all that much demand for Grim Monolith and Metalworker outside of cube. 
  • Intuition (current price: $21.84) is worth mentioning because it's a powerful effect, but it doesn't really see all that much play at the moment. If you are planning on trying the Legacy Hedron Alignment deck, you'll want to pick up your copies, and there is a chance that someday something will be printed that returns the tutor to prominence. At this point, I don't see a huge rush to buy in. 
  • Firestorm shows up in some Dredge builds, so if you think that's going to be your first deck, it won't hurt to pick up your copies now. Otherwise I'd ignore it. 
  • Shallow Grave (current price: $5.17) is pretty much the Goryo's Vengeance of Legacy. If Grishoalbrand is your Modern deck, you might want to consider some sort of instant speed reanimator strategy in Legacy as well. If this is you, pick up a playset of Shallow Grave, otherwise I wouldn't worry about it. 
  • Aluren (current price: $6.78) and Dream Halls (current price: $6.43) are basically the Against the Odds cards of Legacy. While they put up results every now and then, they have never managed to maintain a consistent place near the top of the format. This said, both cards are indispensable to their deck, so if they have a breakout performance, doubling up isn't out of the question. 
  • The rest of the Reserved List cards among the Top 500 most played in Legacy are extremely fringe. Some, like Candelabra of Tawnos, The Abyss and Eureka, are already extremely expensive and probably not worth buying unless you really, really want to play High Tide. While others like Peacekeeper and Humility just don't see enough play to really matter. 

Wrap Up

Overall, Eternal Masters is one of the most exciting products announced in years. While I question whether it will actually make Legacy more accessible, having a window to pick up cards like Force of Will and Wasteland on the cheap is great. If you are thinking of buying into Legacy this summer, your first order of business should be shoring up your Reserved List collection. The dual lands are — by far — the most important because you'll need them for almost every Legacy deck you'll build. Otherwise, try to figure out what deck you want to play and pick up any and all Reserved List cards found in the deck. There is almost zero downside is doing this now; it would be shocking if any of these cards decreased in price over the next six months during Eternal Masters hype season, and at least some of them are going to increase significantly. By getting your copies now, you eliminate the risk of getting priced out of a deck you really want to play later. In the worse case, you can always sell or trade them away for full value (and possibly a profit) during the peak of the Eternal Masters hype this summer. 


Anyway, that's all for today. What do you think about Eternal Masters? Does this increase the chances of a No Reserve List Legacy format? Will this set push you towards buying into Legacy? As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions and suggestion in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 

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