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Preparing for Rotation: Born of the Gods

Last week we started a series about preparing for rotation by talking about which cards to sell, hold, and buy from Theros. Today we'll be continuing the series by moving forward to the next set in the Theros block: Born of the Gods. Over the next two weeks we'll cover Journey into Nyx and finally Magic 2015, which should allows us to wrap up the series just in time for the start of Magic Origins spoilers on June 22nd (although with the early spoiling of Avaricious Dragon, I couldn't help but share my thoughts at the end of this article).

Managing our collections though rotation is one of the most important aspects of MTG finance. Not only can you save yourself a lot of money by selling cards before they rotate, you can also make money by buying certain cards as they decrease in price heading into rotation. To be fair, if your goal is to get the absolute highest price possible for your rotating staples, the best time to sell is in the winter when prices peak. But you can still save yourself some money by selling now rather than waiting until September. Likewise, the best time to buy rotating cards, especially non-staples (casual cards), isn't after rotation but over the summer heading into the rotation. This window is just about to open (for eternal playables the Winter after rotation is typically the floor). The easiest mantra for rotation is to sell everything; if you had to choose only one response, selling everything would be preferable to holding (or god forbid buying) everything. However, taking a more nuanced look at rotating cards is beneficial.

Born of the Gods - Sell

These are cards that I would have sold yesterday, but since it's a bit late for that, selling them ASAP is the best we can do. Most cards from Magic sets generate their primary demand from Standard; when they rotate their supply increases as Standard-only players sell off their copies, and demand drops, which causes prices to decrease dramatically. Selling these cards before they lose most of their value is one of the keys to maintaining a Magic collection and (especially when operating on a budget) having some money sitting around to buy cards for the next Standard season. 

Brimaz, King of Oreskos

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: Brimaz, King of Oreskos has the combination of abilities and stats to be playable in non-rotating formats — especially Modern. Dodging Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix is huge, as is being searchable by Collected Company. The issue with Brimaz, King of Oreskos is that being Legendary often keeps him from seeing more than one-of play. In Standard his stats are just so good that it may be worthwhile to play multiples and risk a mulligan, but in older formats, the competition gets much stiffer with Aven Mindcensor, Mirran Crusader, Monastery Mentor, and Blade Splicer all fighting for the the mono-white three drop slot. Cards like Knight of the Reliquary and Loxodon Smiter join the fray in GW builds. 

I should say that the wisdom of selling Brimaz, King of Oreskos is highly dependent on how much you can get for your copies. TCG-mid is still close to $15, so if you can find a trade partner at (or near) this price, Brimaz, King of Oreskos is a solid sell. Unfortunately buylists are down in the $6 range which means that even with a 30 percent store credit bonus, you are getting less than $8 and it's hard to imagine the eternal playable mythic falling much below $6. Either way, I wouldn't be buying before winter at the earliest. While there is long-term potential, seeing a swift recovery like Voice of Resurgence is unlikely for the legendary cat soldier. 

The Temples

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

I consider the Theros scrylands to be holds mostly because they are already so inexpensive being near the floor for dual lands. The Born of Gods scrylands, on the other hand, are significantly more expensive at the moment. Despite the comparatively low supply of Born of Gods, I expect this cycle to fall into the sub-$2 range heading to rotation.

Temple of Enlightenment probably has the most long-term potential being the blue member of the three BNG scrys. Playing a tapped land is less of a cost for the control decks which may have interest in the U/W land. Unfortunately its price is very inflated due to Standard demand from Esper Dragons; while most Standard cards (and scrylands) have been dropping in price over the past few months, Temple of Enlightenment has actually been on the rise, peaking at $7.60 about three weeks ago. You can currently buylist copies to ABU for $3.75, which ends up being $4.69 if you take the store credit option. I say take the money and run; retail prices will be much less come November. 

Temple of Plenty and especially Temple of Malice seem less likely to have much post-rotation demand. The B/R member of most landcycles is always among the least popular and the aggressive color combination isn't all that likely to want to play a significant number of tapped land. Plus, if you really want a tapped B/R dual in Modern, you can play an actual man-land in Lavaclaw Reaches. Temple of Plenty is overshadowed on all fronts. Why play a land that gives you a scry when you can play Horizon Canopy which actually draws you a card? And if you are going to play a tapped land, isn't Stirring Wildwood just better 99 percent of the time? I'd be looking to trade out of these cards if possible since the spread is already quite bad. You can get $2.28 in store credit buylisting Temple of Plenty, which is still likely worthwhile if you can't find a trade partner. Temple of Malice will only fetch you $1.03 in credit; I'm not sure the B/R land will go much lower than this, but I'd still probably take the offer given it will likely be among the least valuable in the cycle over the long haul.

The "Big" Uncommons

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Bile Blight, while a great card in Standard, is simply outclassed by more efficient removal (Dismember or the flexible (Maelstrom Pulse) in Modern and it is close to unplayed in EDH. As a result there just isn't any way for the card to maintain its current price — there's close to zero demand outside of Standard. Obviously trading them away for $1.50 is ideal, but you can still get $0.71 cash ($0.89 credit) from buylists, which is still much better than holding it as it falls towards $0.50 retail and $0.10 buylist like the charms from RTR.

Drown in Sorrow at least sees fringe Modern play, but like Bile Blight, most of its demand comes from Standard. Plus, with the recent announcement that scry is becoming an evergreen mechanic (meaning it is available for every set, like flying or haste) and its generic name, Drown in Sorrow can be reprinted at any time. Buylist prices are already super low with the best offer being $0.32 cash, so try to out these in trade if at all possible. Otherwise, it still might be worth buylisting, although selling into such a weak spread is never fun. 

Born of the Gods - Holds

Holds are cards that I'm not actively buying or selling at the moment (although if someone offers me SCG prices I might take it or if someone is willing to sell at-or-below buylist I might be interested in buying). There are two types of cards that I end up in this category. The first are cards that I don't expect to lose much at rotation, but that I also don't expect to increase significantly in price in the near future. If you think you might want these for casual play, you might as well hold onto them through rotation because there isn't much to be gained or lost either way. The second type of card has low-loss potential but the potential for significant gains. The reason these cards are not in the "buy" category is that their absolute low-point should be this Winter, so if you are buying on speculation, that would be the time to do so. The buy/sell spread means you are unlikely to make a profit by selling your copies now and repurchasing them in the future.

Courser of Kruphix

I have to admit that while writing this article, I had Courser of Kruphix as a sell, hold, and buy at various times. While putting it under "hold" might seem like a cop out, I am truly unsure of the card's future. Instead of sharing my opinion on the card (since I don't really have one), let me lay out some facts about Courser of Kruphix and you can let me know in the comments what you think the future holds. 

  • Is, and has been, one of (if not the) most played cards in Standard. This means Standard demand has been the primary driver of Courser of Kruphixs price. 
  • Has already lost a ton of value. Courser of Kruhpix peaked last July (and again last September) at nearly $18. Today it is under $7. 
  • Has an alt-art foil clash pack printing which increases supply and might be the reason for the low foil multiplier (which is only x2.1). 
  • Sees fringe Modern play, typically as a one- or two-of in Jund or Abzan. 
  • Is (to my surprise) the most heavily played Born of the Gods card in Commander.
  • Buylist prices are only $3, significantly under the $7 TCG-mid price. 

Kiora, the Crashing Wave

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

As I mentioned last week in talking about Elsepth, Sun's Champion and Xenagos, the Reveler, $3-$5 is typically the floor for non-Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded planeswalkers (even those that show up in a Duel Deck). While it's possible Kiora, the Crashing Wave dips another dollar or two heading into rotation, considering that the best buylist price is only $1.78, you just don't gain much of anything by selling her now. I don't expect her to be a fast gainer, but you shouldn't lose much by keeping your copies. Casual players love planeswalkers and I would expect that eventually you'll be able to trade Kiora, the Crashing Wave away (or even buylist her) for more than you could get for her now.

The Archetypes

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

While none of these cards are worth a ton at the moment, most of this cycles sees some amount of play in EDH, especially Archetype of Endurance which comes in right behind Courser of Kruphix and Xenagos, God of Revels as the third most played card from Born of the Gods. Currently this cycle sits in the strange place of being too playable to out as bulk, but not in demand enough to sell to buylists or get much interest in trade. Hopefully this changes in the future. I currently have a stack of each I've picked up from collections and pulled from the bulk. I recommend you doing the same; you can always out them as bulk down the road if the prices never increase.

Born of the Gods - Buys

Cards listed in this category are ones that I think may be worth buying now, or at the very least over the summer when rotating casual cards typically hit their floor. As I mentioned before, some of the cards listed as "holds" have long term potential, but the best time to buy them will likely be six or eight months from now rather than over the summer.

Spirit of the Labyrinth

Spirit of the Labyrinth laughs at rotation. It has always been an eternal card; Spirit of the Labyrinth actually sees more play in Legacy and even Vintage than it does in Standard or even Modern. Not only is this reflected in the decks it shows up in (most often some sort of "Taxes" strategy, Dead Guy Ale, or Maverick), but also in its massive 11.3x foil multiplier. It has a unique effect, and as an enchantment creature, it is hard to reprint and searchable by Enlightened Tutor and Collected Company. Together these cards form a pretty nifty combo which I hadn't even considered until writing this article. Enlightened Tutor allows you to play a sort of toolbox Collected Company deck in Legacy. Does your opponent have a Goblin Charbelcher on the stack? Enlightened Tutor for Phyrexian Revoker and Collected Company it into play. Is your opponent activating Jace, the Mind Sculptor or casting Brainstorm? Search up your Spirit of the Labyrinth and do the same thing. Is it your opponent's draw-step? How about a Tidehollow Sculler? Is your opponent about to storm off? How about that Eidolon of Rhetoric you brought in from the sideboard? While this might be too cute and inefficient to be good, it also sounds pretty sweet!

Back to Spirit of the Labyrinth. If you look around you can buy copies for under $0.40 at the moment, possibly even under $0.30 with a little bit of luck. At this price you risk very little buying a stack to sit in your closet for a year or two. In the best case you can out them for a couple dollars, which might not sound exciting, but actually represents a significant gain by percentage. Worst case you can sell them for your buy-in; I have to imagine that you'll be able to finder a buyer at $0.50 in the future, and all you lose is a small opportunity cost. Spirit of the Labyrinth is the type of bulk level spec that I love. 

The Gods

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

I like all of the multi-color gods far more than the mono-color gods from Theros. Since EDH and casual play will be the primary driver of demand for all these cards moving forward, having two-colors instead of one isn't really that big of a deal. Plus the abilities of many of these gods are better suited for casual and multiplayer play than those of the Theros deities. 

Ephara, God of the Polis and Karametra, God of Harvests seem like slam dunks. Ephara, God of the Polis is already close to a bulk mythic, and while her creature-centric ability isn't the greatest for spell heavy U/W decks, she is pretty much at her floor. If you can scoop up copies for $1 or less in trade, the risk is very low. Karametra, God of Harvests, on the other hand, has a great ability for rampy EDH decks, and is the second most played BNG god in Commander. Like Ephara, God of the Polis, Karametra, God of Harvests is likely near her floor and has potential to grow over the next couple years barring a surprising reprinting. 

The other three gods are more expensive but still seem like solid mid-term plays. Casual players love their mill and Phenax, God of Deception allows for some super janky and fast mill kills when combined with high toughness creatures. If Consuming Aberration, as a large set rare with a intro pack printing, can maintain real value, it seems like Phenax, God of Deception should be able to do that and more. Xenagos, God of Revels is actually the most played BNG god in commander and has a surprisingly low 16 percent spread, so it wouldn't be surprising to see his price increase soon, potentially in the next month. Mogis, God of Slaughter is the god whose price I understand the least. It is currently the most expensive of the BNG gods while also being the least played in Commander. This combination makes me hesitant to buy in now, but like the others, I still think he has potential over the long-term. 

The gods are an iconic cycle of mythics which are built to be casual all-stars. I wouldn't be surprised to see them follow the path of similar cycles like the Eldrazi from ROE or the praetors of New Phyrexia and head towards the $10 or even $20 mark over the next few years. This is especially true of the non-Theros gods because supply of BNG and JOU are significantly lower. While I'm not going super deep on any of these cards, I do think they are good buys with the intent of holding for the long-haul. 

Plea of Guidance

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

My other favorite bulk rare target from Born of the Gods, Plea for Guidance is the second-most played rare from the set in EDH and you can currently pick up NM copies on TCGPlayer for as low as $0.15. Considering you can always out bulk rares for at least $0.10, and getting $0.15 isn't out of the question, there is basically zero risk in sinking $5 into 30+ copies of the white sorcery. For the opportunity cost of one cup of Starbucks, you can own a card that could potentially follow Cathars' Crusade and True Conviction up towards $2 over the next couple years. Worst case you can get your cup of coffee back by outing them as bulk. 

Born of the Gods - Wrap Up

If a card wasn't mentioned above, I am indifferent about it, which typically means I will sell it if it has some value. There is little risk in holding onto rares and mythics that are already bulk; you should be able to out them for the same prices a month, a year, or 10 years from now, so there isn't a rush to sell now. And who knows, maybe Champion of Stray SoulsFlame-Wreathed Phoenix, or Perplexing Chimera end up taking off in casual. While this isn't likely, if a bulk card has any chance of increasing in the future, you might as well stick it in a binder somewhere and hold onto it.

Bonus - Avaricious Dragon

A lot of people seem disappointed with Avaricious Dragon, but I think this is more a product of dragon-overload than the card itself. They get stuck on the "discard your hand" trigger, which is an obvious downside, but they seem to forget that this is only a downside if you have cards in hand. I mean, it's not like you have to do something crazy like mill the top card of your library if you can't discard. This trigger limits the potential of Avaricious Dragon in anything but true aggro builds; if you're looking to curve a dragon into Kohalgan, Storm's Fury or Stormbreath Dragon, Thunderbreak Regent is almost always going to be a better choice. 

Assuming we are playing an aggro deck like mono-red, the real question is whether Thunderbreak Regent's guaranteed three-damage (from the "when a dragon becomes targeted" trigger) is better than Avaricious Dragon's Outpost Siege/Chandra Pyromaster-like card advantage. Most of the time I think red decks will want the damage since three damage is pretty close to drawing two cards in a Standard burn/aggro deck (Standard burn is less efficient than in Modern or Legacy where each draw-step is typically worth two damage). If you are playing a matchup where your four-drop dragon is likely to survive for several turns, Avaricious Dragon is probably the better option. 

The other problem for Avaricious Dragon is that there are so many playable and powerful fliers in the format thanks to Fate Reforged and Dragons of Tarkir. Another 4/4 flier for 2RR just isn't that exciting at the moment, especially when the other options don't have a hint of downside. While I'll withhold my financial judgment until we see more of the set, I'm certainly not a buyer at $12. While I think Avaricious Dragon is better than some people are giving it credit for, I also believe (at least on paper) it is only slightly behind some of the other similar options in the format. 


Anyway, that's all for today. What are you selling, holding, and buying from Born of the Gods? Did I miss any potential sleepers? Let me know in the comments, or as always, you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 

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