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Preparing for Rotation: Journey into Nyx


Over the past couple weeks we have been working our way through a series about preparing for the upcoming Standard rotation, first by discussing cards to buy, sell, and hold from Theros, and then doing the same thing for Born of the Gods. This means we only have two more sets to cover and we'll be hitting both this week so we can have the series wrapped up in time for Magic Origins spoilers which begin officially next Monday (June 22nd). So today we will be talking about the future of Journey Into Nyx and then I'll be back at the end of the week to cover Magic 2015.

As I've mentioned in the other Preparing for Rotation articles, 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 typically 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 and if you had to choose only one response, selling everything would be preferable to holding (or god forbid buying) everything. However, the easiest path isn't always the best, so it is worthwhile to take a more nuanced look at rotating cards.

Journey into Nyx

Journey into Nyx is the last true third set in the sense that it is a small set which was only drafted for a short period of time. It is also a relatively unpopular third set; not quite Dragon's Maze unpopular, but not beloved by any means. This means the supply of JOU is comparatively low, certainly lower than any other set in Theros block, which bodes well for the future prices of cards from the set. Cards, but especially mythics, that are playable either in EDH, on kitchen tables, or in eternal formats stand to do quite well in the years post-rotation assuming they are not reprinted. As a result, JOU has more holds and buys than the rest of the block, not because the cards are necessarily better or more powerful, but simply because there are less copies in the wild. 

Journey Into Nyx - 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. 

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes

If you have copies of Ajani, Mentor of Heroes sitting around and you're not currently playing them, run — don't walk — to your computer and sell them as fast as you can. This is less because Ajani, Mentor of Heroes is a horrible card (it's not), and it's not even because I expect a huge decline in value (he'll probably end up somewhere between $6 and $8 at rotation), but solely because buylists are paying handsomely for the G/W planeswalker at the moment. 

Seriously, the cheapest NM copies of Ajani, Mentor of Heroes on TCGPlayer are about $10.50, whereas Card Kingdom is currently buying Ajani, Mentor of Heroes for $8.75 cash, which ends up being $11.37 if you take the store credit option. This is an amazing deal for a card that will soon rotate and isn't a real staple in EDH (it's the 7th most played Commander card from JOU, falling between Athreos, God of Passage and Eidolon of Blossoms). I'd be surprised if these high buylist prices last for long, so take advantage of them while you can.

The Temples

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Both of the JOU scrylands have had inflated prices thanks to their Standard play and low supply, but this is already changing as both buy and sell prices have dropped significantly in recent months. Neither has much appeal in Modern. If BGx decks are going to play a tapped land, it is going to be either Raging Ravine or Stirring Wildwood based on the splash color. While UR duals are typically the most expensive in their cycles, entering the battlefield tapped severely reduces their utility in the tempo-based color combo, plus Desolate Lighthouse is just better for a deck like Twin since it offers long-term value and a way to grind through the mirror. 

I would try my hardest to trade out of these cards because buylist prices have already dropped a ton. Right now the best buylist on Temple of Malady is $2 and for Temple of Epiphany only $1. If you can't trade out for at or even a bit below retail, I would grit my teeth and take buylist prices — a little money now is better than less money later, and with the evergreening of scry, these have potential to show up in any set as a reprint. 

Mana Confluence

Mana Confluence is a hard one for me to figure out. On one hand it is playable all the way back to Vintage as a mostly better version of City of Brass since you can't get burnt out by Rishadan Port (although it is strictly worse than City of Ass, all things considered). In fact, Mana Confluence is more heavily played in Vintage than Bazaar of Baghdad or Undiscovered Paradise, and about even with Cavern of Souls. It is also from JOU, which is another vote in its favor. On the other hand, Vintage and (very fringe) Legacy play isn't really a huge driver of demand these days, so most of Mana Confluences price is from its Standard play. 

The easiest comparison is City of Brass, but I'm not sure comparing a one-printing JOU rare to a seven printing Chronicles rare is the best idea. Either way, City of Brass is still worth a few dollars depending on the printing, and this seems like the absolute floor for Mana Confluence. Considering the best buylist price is only $5, I'm tempted to hold my copies unless I can out them at full retail prices. This said, foils seem like a solid hold. The multiplier is low at 2.27x, so even if non-foils decrease, foils should not be affected much and they have long-term potential since eternal players love their foils. 

Journey Into Nyx - 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.

Godsend

In all honesty, I had forgotten all about this card because, you know, no one plays it, which is actually the biggest reason to hold on Godsend though rotation. It's current price isn't high based on diminishing (and soon to be non-existent) Standard demand; instead is commands $4.50 because is is popular for casual play and comes from a low-supply third set. Saying that no one plays Godsend isn't quite true  — it's the 10th most popular JOU card in EDH, which means it isn't really a format staple, but it is playable in the right deck. This is despite the fact that being white (instead of colorless, like most equipment) greatly restricts the number of decks that can play it. 

I don't expect this one to lose much at rotation, but I don't see much potential for fast growth either; it could probably tick up over the years. Currently is has a fairly solid spread of 36 percent which suggests vendors aren't worried about picking up copies even with rotation on the horizon. The scarier part is that Godsend is in the right price range and popular enough in EDH to see a Commander deck reprinting. However, guessing exactly when (or even if) this will happen is a fool's errand. If you want a copy for your Commander decks, you don't risk much by picking it up now. If you have a couple sitting around in your binders, I wouldn't be in a rush to sell — you'll find a casual player to trade with eventually and the prices shouldn't be much less than it is today (if any). 

Athreos, God of Passage and Pharika, God of Affliction

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

For me, Athreos, God of Passage is right on the line between hold and buy, although I'm a bit scared by his "highest in the cycle" price tag and the fact that his price is already up 25 percent over the past few months. It might be that the window for buying Athreos, God of Passage has already closed. I expect most of the god cycle to end up being worth $10 or more in the future, but Athreos, God of Passage is already there and I have a hard time seeing this as a $20 card even though it is the fifth-most-played JOU card in EDH. On the other hand, the numbers are relatively strong ($6 buylist, 25 percent spread) so maybe I'm underestimating its appeal and potential. 

One of my favorite comparisons for the JOU gods is the praetor cycle from New Phyrexia; both are third set mythic cycles with strong casual appeal. Unfortunately, Pharika, God of Affliction feels like the Urabrask, the Hidden member of the cycle and I expect (barring some surprise Modern play) that it will be the least expensive JOU god over the long haul. If the spread wasn't a horrible 75 percent (best buylist being a laughable $0.75), I would be tempted to list is as a sell. As is, I would just hold my copies and and hope for the best. 

Inexpensive Rares With EDH/Casual Potential

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

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Most of these cards are bulk at the moment so you don't really benefit at all by selling them for $0.10 each; you can always do the same thing later. All of them have some amount of upside on kitchen tables or in EDH. If you really like one (or more) of them, you really don't lose much by picking up a few copies. For me, these are the type of cards that I pull out of my bulk and set aside for the future. Maybe they increase a bit in a year or two (definitely possible, considering they are from JOU) and I can out them for $0.50 each. Maybe they don't and I'll end up selling them for $0.10 a year or two from now. Either way they have enough potential that outing them as bulk feels foolish at the moment. 

Journey Into Nyx - 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.

The Other Gods

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

Keranos, God of Storm is not only the most eternal playable god in Journey into Nyx, but in all of Theros block. While it is generally a one-of out of the sideboard, it does show up in the majority of URx Twin builds along with UWR Control. If we continue to think of the JOU gods as the praetors cycle from New Phyrexia, Keranos, God of Storms is pretty clearly the Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite — a card that is fairly popular on kitchen tables while also seeing fringe eternal play. I expect it to be the most expensive member of the god cycle until it is eventually reprinted, although whether it can go as high as Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite is up for debate. 

If Keranos is the Elesh Norn of the JOU gods, then Iroas, God of Victory is the Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger. While its numbers are not exciting at the moment ($2 buylist, 47% spread), it is the most played JOU god in EDH so I expect the RW god to hit its floor over the next three months and then slowly tick upwards until it is eventually $10+. 

Kruphix, God of Horizons might be the best buy out of all the JOU gods since it is relatively inexpensive at the moment and it has some similarities to Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur. Both have extremely powerful abilities but both cost just a bit (or in the blue praetor's case, a lot) too much for Standard. Both the Reliquary Tower ability and the Upwelling effect are clearly designed for casual/multiplayer play, and the EDH community has already taken notice as Kruphix, God of Horizons is the second most played JOU god in the format. Like Iroas, God of Victory, $10+ in a couple years is certainly possible assuming there is not a surprise reprinting. 

Eidolon of the Great Revel

While the optimal time to get in on Eidolon of the Great Revel was during (or before) Pro Tour Fate Reforged in February, I think there is still long-term potential here at $10. While this card is literally Pyrostatic Pillar on legs, financially, Eidolon of the Great Revel is basically the creature equivalent of Abrupt Decay; it gives up a bit in level of play (Abrupt Decay has a dominance of 12.09 in Modern, while Eidolon of the Great Revel comes in at 7.29), but makes up for this by coming from the lower-supply JOU and also being more difficult to reprint. As such, I expect Eidolon of the Great Revel to have a post-rotation trajectory similar to Abrupt Decay

If tradition holds, you might be able to buy Eidolon of the Great Revel for a couple dollars cheaper this winter, but I'm not sure this difference is enough to matter. I certainly wouldn't sell my copy now in fear of rotation, and if you want to play with them this summer, I would feel perfectly comfortable buying in now. Even if Eidolon of the Great Revel ticks down a dollar or two, this will only be temporary and prices will start to rise again within a few months of rotation. Plus, the winter Pro Tour is Modern again this year; with the insanity of Modern prices and buyouts of late, there's a chance that it never drops at all. 

Worst Fears

It's really hard to dislike third set bulk mythics (although there are exceptions, like Counsel of the Absolute) — especially those with a unique and potentially powerful casual effect like Worst Fears. If you look back at Dragon's Maze (the last small third set), you'll see that several inexpensive but casually popular mythics have been trending in the right direction post-rotation. This includes Master of Cruelties which was $2.50 right before rotation and is $4.00 today, Progenitor Mimic which is up from $2.50 to $3.15, and even Savageborn Hydra which has increased from $1.75 to $2.00.

While Worst Fears doesn't see a ton of play in EDH, it does see a little bit; stealing another player's turn — much like taking an extra turn — is an effect that will always have a fan base simply because it is so much fun. Mindslaver retails for about $5 even with two printings, although this number is bolstered from its fringe Modern play in Mono-Blue Tron. Either way, it's hard to imagine a mythic with this unique ability from a low-supply set staying under $1 in the long term. While I don't expect a quick spike, I do expect a slow-and-steady upward trend over the next few years until it is reprinted. 

Dictate of Erebos

Maybe the single best buy in the entire Theros block, Dictate of Erebos is a legitimate EDH staple. If you look over the list of the most played cards in EDH, you'll see that Dictate of Erebos falls into the same range as casual staples including Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Greater Good, Elspeth, Knight-Errant, Kiki-Jiki, Mirrorbreaker and Sword of Light and Shadow. Who would have guessed that a better Grave Pact would be popular in the format?

Foils already spiked a month ago and non-foils have started to trend upwards, but you can still find copies for about $0.50. If you want them to play with, get them now! They are not going to get any less expensive anytime soon. If your goal is to fill a 1,000 count box for mid-term speculation, you should probably get on that now as well. Basically, barring a random reprinting — which is unlikely in Standard, given the plane-specific "Erebos" in the card's name, so it's really only supplemental products we have to worry about — Dictate of Erebos should be a great card to own over the next couple years. Grave Pact has six printings and is still worth more than $8 based on EDH/casual demand alone; I see no reason that Dictate of Erebos can't be half of that in a couple of years if it dodges the reprint bullet.  

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. I'll be back in a couple days with the conclusion of our series to discuss the future of Magic 2015. Until then, what cards from Journey into Nyx are you buying, holding, and selling? Do any other bulk rares have potential as casual buys? How much do you think Eidolon of the Great Revel will cost a year from now? What about Mana Confluence? Let me know in the comments, or you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 


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