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The Financial Impact of BFZ: Quick Hitter Catch up (Part 1)

It's been a few days since we last talked about the financial impact of Battle for Zendikar, so today we are going to try something a bit different. Instead of talking in-depth about two or three cards, we are going to talk about a whole bunch of cards, but try to keep the analysis of each short and sweet. While I might break the "quick hitter" rule with some cards and go a bit deeper, I'm going to do my best to keep the article moving forward so we can cover a lot of ground. 

Before we get to the cards, it is once again time for the obligatory warning about the composition of the set: mythics and rares from Battle for Zendikar are going to be worth less that "normal" thanks to the composition of the set, which includes not only the incredibly expensive Zendikar Expeditions, but a very playable dual land cycle, three manlands and full art basics. There is only so much value to go around and history suggests it will not be the price of the rare lands that suffer the most — this will be random rares and mythics. As such, when discussing the potential prices of various cards, try to keep the big picture in mind. Anyway, let's talk about some new cards!

Greenwarden of Murasa

Greenwarden of Murasa may be the best See the Unwritten target in Battle for Zendikar, which is a little sad considering the set is overrun with Eldrazi. Just in case you've never played with Eternal Witness in conjunction with Chord of Calling or Collected Company, these effects create a weird sort of loop. If you See the Unwritten for Greenwarden of Murasa (and maybe another creature, assuming you have ferocious), by the time the Regrowth trigger goes on the stack See the Unwritten is already in the graveyard so you can immediately return it to your hand and do it all over again. The second time you cast it, you'll definitely have ferocious assuming Greenwarden of Murasa is still on the battlefield. 

Basically this is a double Eternal Witness (which seems to be an odd, fringe theme of Battle for Zendikar considering that Hedron Archive is a double Mind Stone). While far less playable in older formats because it costs six-mana (and you don't get the second trigger if it gets exiled by Path to Exile), I am legitimately excited for this card in Standard assuming the format is slow and grindy enough that we can reasonably expect to get to six-mana. Financially, I expect Greenwarden of Murasa to be right about average in terms of price; for a Battle for Zendikar mythic, that should be in the $3 range once all is said and done. On the other hand, I think the odds are greater that it trends toward bulk than that it ends up being one of the few chase mythics of the set which can maintain a price of around $10. 

Akoum Firebird

While the idea of curving Flamewake Phoenix into Akoum Firebird or Butcher of the Horde into Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury is interesting and maybe even be powerful, it seems likely that Akoum Firebird will suffer from the numbers game of the set and end up being bulk or just above bulk. Costing six-mana to rebuy with the landfall ability feels like a ton, although it is nice that it goes directly to the battlefield and can be played at instant speed with the help of fetchlands. Maybe there is a deck that wants to leave up counter magic and activate this end of turn? 

The history of this type of card (Phoenixes that rise from the ashes) doesn't really give me much faith that Akoum Firebird can maintain a high price tag. Chandra's Phoenix is by far the best of the bunch, but it is also a hasty Wind Drake that reanimates for three and a burn spell to your opponent's face. Flame-Wreath Phoenix has not seen any play (thanks to the punisher mechanic), Flamewake Phoenix has seen fringe play at best, Ashcould Phoenix sometimes randomly shows up in small numbers, and the rest of the phoenix tribe are horrible, unplayable, and overcosted. Maybe Akoum Firebird can overcome its questionable bloodlines, but until a deck list proves me wrong, this feels like it will land somewhere between $0.50 and $1.50. 

Felidar Sovereign

And this boys and girls, is the danger of investing in casual cards that maintain their price tag not from competitive demand, but due to low supply. You just never know when a Felidar Sovereign will be reprinted at rare in the soon-to-be most opened set of all time. There is literally no way of predicting a reprint like this from the outside; the odds of a Felidar Sovereign reprint is roughly the same as any other mythic from the original Zendikar block. And guessing when a card will be downgraded in rarity is a fool's errand. A couple days ago, you could buylist copies for $7; today, the best you can manage is $2 if you can find a vendor willing to purchase copies at all. 

On the other hand, Felidar Sovereign is a popular casual card and this reprint means players will be able to pick up copies on the cheap. Unless there is some odd Standard deck that manages to use Felidar Sovereign as a finisher, this will likely be very close to bulkix months from now. While a reprinting will likely increase casual demand to some extent (as new players who have never have heard of the card discover it in Battle for Zendikar or FNM players try some janky combo deck), there is no way that demand will keep up with supply. I'd expect $0.50 to $1.00 early this spring, and the long-term prospects don't seem all that rosy. I'm just not confident that any casual-only card can overcome the massive supply of Battle for Zendikar unless we see another run of Zendikar though Innistrad like player base growth in the coming years. 

Dragonmaster Outcast

As I sit here writing this you can still buylist copies of Dragonmaster Outcast for up to $8 and most of the major vendors are purchasing copies. While I'm not sure this will be true when this article sees print a few hours from now, if you have copies sitting around, you should check as soon as possible because there might still be a window to cash out. Everything I just said about Felidar Sovereign holds true for Dragonmaster Outcast, although the floor is a bit higher simply because it remains at mythic in Battle for Zendikar. This card wasn't always $15. At rotation it was a $3.50 card that has followed the slow-growth trajectory of older mythics that have not been reprinted. This massive new supply will likely put copies into the $3 range, maybe even lower. If you can, sell your copies now. You'll be able to rebuy them for less than half of current buylist prices in a couple months. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Since we are on the topic of reprints, we might as well briefly touch on Sylvan Scrying. There is one group of tournament players in the entire world that want Sylvan Scrying, and those are Tron players in Modern. Thanks to the BFZ reprinting, they'll now be able to pick up copies (with horrible art) for cheap. Oddly, buylists are still paying nearly $3 for older version, so you still have the opportunity to dump yours and pick up the BFZ version for $0.50 in a few weeks. 

Void Winnower

This might be the strangest mythic ever printed. The only things that makes sense to me is that we'll see an "odds" version of Void Winnower at some point in Battle for Zendikar block for the 18-mana hard lock. If that is the case, See the Unwritten for Void Winnower and "Odd Winnower" sounds super sweet. It basically wins you the game as your opponent will never be able to cast another spell or attack with another creature. 

On the other hand, just hosing even CMC cards isn't all that exciting, and even less so when it costs nine mana to do so. I guess if we end up in some crazy metagame where everyone is curving two-drops into four-drops into six-drops it could be a thing, but most competitive decks have plays at all points on the curve. Plus most of the cards that kill Void Winnower are "odds" anyway (Abzan Charm, Ruinous Path, all wraths (unfortunately), Foul-Tongue Invocation, Murderous Cut, Titan's Presence and Stasis Snag), so Void Winnower isn't especially good at protecting itself. For now I'm calling this a bulk mythic, although there is potential it becomes playable, either because we are in a strangely even meta, or because its "odds" doppelganger sees print. 

Shambling Vent/Lumbering Falls

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

When it was revealed that we were getting enemy manlands in Battle for Zendikar, I was pretty excited. Creeping Tar Pit and Celestial Colonnade are two of my all-time favorite cards because they are not only solid finishers, but the opportunity cost of running manlands is so low; they are creatures that don't take up non-land card slots in your deck. 

Unfortunately, neither Shambling Vent or Lumbering Falls are very inspiring. Yes, they will be playable in Standard and likely very good, but if you compare their power level to the original manlands, both seem quite low. In fact, there is a very real debate as to whether or not they are worse than Lavaclaw Reaches, which pretty much everyone agrees was the worst of the Worldwake cycle. While I still look forward to playing these cards, my hype for the cycle is slowly dwindling. Instead of being the rightful heir to the WWK cycle, the Battle for Zendikar manlands are more like the second coming of Ghitu Encampment and Forbidding Watchtower

Financially, $3 seems about right for this cycle. Remember, even Modern staple manlands like Creeping Tar Pit and Celestial Collonade were in the $5 range while they were in Standard. Plus they were from a set that apart from Jace, the Mind Sculptor, didn't have all that much value which theoretically gave them more room to maintain a higher price. 

Brutal Explosion

Brutal Explosion is pretty awesome. It will often be a two-for-one, or at least a 1.5-for-one, and is basically the spell version of Venser, Shaper Savant, but instead of blocking and trading with an x/2, Brutal Explosion just kills it outright. Assuming an opponent is playing their spells during their second main phase (as they should), you can potentially combine the two damage with a chump-blocking creature to take down a Siege Rhino or some other large threat. 

One place I'm really interested in testing this card is alongside Ojutai's Command in some sort of Standard Jeskai Control list. Between the two cards you can leave up four mana and have an answer for just about anything. Maybe throw in a couple dragons to finish things off (and provide synergy with some other spells) and it seems like exactly the type of deck I'd enjoy playing. Obviously building a control deck for an unknown meta is foolish, so building a control deck when we don't even know what cards will be in Standard is downright insane, but what about something like this:

* Obviously the Dissipate will be whatever Standard legal 3-CMC counter is best. There are rumors of a Cancel that has Awaken 3 at 4UU, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Parade of Bulk Rares - Part 1

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

How important will it be to get from six to ten mana in Battle for Zendikar Standard? For Nissa's Renewal to be playable, it better be pretty important. The good news is, as Paulo pointed out on Twitter, "if you're spending your 6th turn putting three lands into play then, gain 7 life is exactly what you want." Even at its best, Nissa's Renewal feels like a fringe rare, and fringe rares from Battle for Zendikar are also bulk rares. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A Sanguine Bond stapled to one of the most popular creature types in casual Magic is a card I want to like, but Defiant Bloodlord has a lot working against it. As I've said before, I just don't have faith that the casual market can move the needle on Battle for Zendikar cards in general, and rares in specific — I think the supply will be just too high barring another massive explosion in player-base growth. Even worse, Defiant Bloodlord is an intro pack rare, which even in a "normal" set is usually a death sentence for the price of casual cards. While this will certainly be bulk during its Standard life, I think odds are it will still be bulk in three years despite being an obvious casual hit. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

To me March from the Tomb feels like a trap. Most of the Allies decks I've played against play a lot like Slivers except even more aggressive. They are looking to close out the game before ever reaching five mana, topping out with things like Collected Company on turn four. I have a hard time imagining that getting 8 CMC from your graveyard at sorcery speed for five mana in two colors is better than getting six CMC from your library at instant speed for mana of one color. Maybe it will see some play in Standard, but so far, it's not even clear there will be an Ally deck in Standard. Even if there is, it might not want March from the Tomb; and even if it does, March from the Tomb will likely remain a bulk rare.


Anyway, that's all for today. We have plenty more cards to talk about and more are being spoiled by the day, so I'll be back soon to discuss some more Battle for Zendikar. Until then, what do you think? Can Brutal Explosion see Modern play? Am I underrating March from the Tomb? Are the new manlands better than I think? Do casual cards from this set have any chance of growing in value over the long-term? Let me know in the comments, or you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 

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