Conjured Currency #22: Reviewing M15, Part 1

Hello, everyone, and welcome back. I don’t normally get the itch to write set reviews, but I’m once again sitting at my computer at 9:30pm. I think my editor, Danny Brown, is sitting outside of my window holding his newborn child in one arm and a crossbow in the other [Editor’s note: Mages don’t need crossbows, DJ], so I figured I should decide on a subject before things take a darker turn. Not that anything could be as dark as the current awful theme for the new home page that I immediately stopped trying to use to find the card image gallery.

There are a couple of reasons I didn’t do a standard set review for Journey into Nyx or Born of the Gods. One is that there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to be responsible for my readers losing money if someone decides to blindly follow my advice and invest $200 into a card that turns out to be complete bulk garbage. I would feel terrible about causing someone else to lose money—that’s sort of the opposite of my goal in writing this column every week. Accountability for others’ financial decisions aside, I just feel that the concept of the financial set review is beaten to a bloody pulp. I remember back when the most expensive card in my possession was a single [card]Eldrazi Monument[/card], and I would eagerly await Craig Wescoe articles on TCGplayer to plan out my trades for the next couple of months. Now you can listen to Brainstorm Brewery for my bosses’ opinions on the set, check out Travis’s thoughts on MTG Price, or read Ben Bleiweiss’s take (if you’re an SCG Premium member). Maybe it’s just because I’m more immersed in the finance world then four years ago, but I sort of feel that my opinion is just a drop in the bucket compared to the more experienced reviewers who have been doing this for a lot longer than I have.

On the other hand, I don’t think I’ll influence anyone to sell their house to buy into [card]Mass Calcify[/card], as long as I start the review by saying one thing to clear my own conscience: don’t do that.

Now let’s state some controversial opinions and make attempts to predict some price trends in this awesome new set! I’ll be skipping over the “it’s extremely obvious that this is a bulk rare” cards, and trying to keep myself under 2,000 words as to not bore you to death. This may result in a part two next week. If you want to start a discussion about a card that I made the decision to pass over or am waiting until next week to get to, feel free to do so in the comments. My target prices will be an estimate for two months from now, for the week of September 15.

Disclaimer: I accidentally prepared for this set review by completely neglecting to read or listen to any other set review that I mentioned in the opening paragraphs. All predictions are based off of my own thoughts or opinions, and those of other non-financiers.

Let’s Get to the Cards

[card]Nissa, Worldwaker[/card]

Current TCG average: $35

Can you say “Planeswalker Hype?” If you’re new to Magic finance, one of the first rules of the road is that Planeswalkers are almost never correctly priced coming out of the gates, and this is no exception. Nissa will not snap Standard in half. I think she’ll be hard-pressed to find a role in the format due to requiring such a vast number of Forests, but might see play as a one- or two-of in the Modern [card]Genesis Wave[/card] deck that tends to run Forests and [card]Utopia Vow[/card]s. Around $8 seems correct after the dust settles in two months.

[card]Garruk, Apex Predator[/card]

Current TCG average: $23

More Planeswalker privilege—Garruk seems very Nicol Bolas-esque to me. He has an extremely high mana cost, but I don’t see him being worth ramping to in Standard. His ultimate still requires you to have a few creatures to win you the game, and [card]Thoughtseize[/card] traditionally shreds the possibility of ramping to cool things. Even if he does see play, his mana cost restricts him to being a two-of at best. I’m going to be conservative and assume that casual appeal and the EDH crowd will keep him hovering at $10 before Khans of Tarkir comes out.

[card]Ajani, Steadfast[/card]

Current TCG average: $12

Ajani certainly raises an eyebrow by being one of the first cards to blatantly speed up the increase of loyalty counters on planeswalkers you control. However, he still requires you to possess creatures in play to gain maximum value from either of his first two abilities. He’s splashable, which would definitely be a huge boon if his home is in a Superfriends deck consisting of a large number of different ‘walkers to abuse his -2 ability. However, Wizards has certainly been toning down the power level of planeswalkers these past few years, and I doubt they gave us the pieces for a highly competitive deck such as that to be available. I actually think he’s much more fairly priced than Nissa, but they’ll be labeled with the same price sticker in due time. $8.

[card]Sliver Hivelord[/card]

Current TCG average: $12

They really screwed this up flavor-wise by not making it a 7/7 akin to [card]Sliver Overlord[/card], [card]Sliver Queen[/card], and [card]Sliver Legion[/card]. We all know that there’s the one individual at our LGS who wants this card, and he/she only wants a single copy. Not a whole ton to say about this, but once it drops down to the $5 I expect, I think it’s fine to grab a couple in trade for the long-run. Foils will be especially hot, so if those somehow end up below $20, they’ll be strong buys. Two months from now: $5.

[card]Jace, the Living Guildpact[/card]

Current TCG average: $10

I’m not afraid to admit that I’m puzzled at evaluating this card. On one hand, Wizards has never created an unplayable Jace. On the other hand, his +1 certainly looks like hot garbagee. On the weird, mutated third hand, a possible six starting loyalty for four mana is hooooooot (that’s an exaggerated “hot,” not an owl screaming in pain). I’m personally pretty stumped, and don’t know which way to lean. There are so many aspects of him that look promising, and a ton of others that make him look like trash. If he doesn’t find a home in Standard in the first few weeks and goes down to $5, I’ll actively trade for a bunch. He’s certainly not the next Tibalt (I really hope that one doesn’t come back to bite me). Predicted price in two months: ????

[card]Chord of Calling[/card]

Current TCG average: $10

What I do know is that Chord of Calling is a consistently good Magic card and I give two thumbs up to anyone who trades away their currently $10 M15 walkers for Chords of Calling. I expect this card to see a lot of play over the next year, and I think it has the power to creep from the $10 where it currently sits to $15. I know that there were people who felt priced out of the Modern Pod deck by being unable to afford this card at $40, so the reprint obviously satiates another separate demand in addition to Standard. The card is good, people. Predicted price: $15.

[card]Soul of New Phyrexia[/card]

Current TCG average: $7

I had this card in my Prerelease pool over the weekend, and I can honestly say that I would have rather had almost any other Soul in play at any given time. It helped me brute force a game or two through, but one huge red flag I noticed was that it doesn’t always generate an advantage. While the red one can always put your opponent on a clock and the green one can always provide a creature, making your guys indestructible doesn’t always do something. The other side of the coin is that it fits into literally any deck, so it can at least fight for a slot with every other Soul at any given point. Overall though, I think it’s a bit overpriced and won’t find a home in Standard. I won’t be putting it in any of my EDH decks, but there’s probably still enough demand to hold it at $3 or $4 in two months time.

[card]Waste Not[/card]

Current TCG average: $6

Really? This thing is $6? Where’s that demand coming from? I don’t think, “YAY, I HAD A PART IN DESIGNING IT” is worth that much coin, so I’m a bit confused. I highly doubt it will have a place in Standard, and while I’m throwing the one I opened in my [card]Nath of the Gilt-Leaf[/card] Enchantress deck, I see it being a dollar or two down the road. [card]Liliana’s Caress[/card] kills people much quicker.

[card]Perilous Vault[/card]

Current TCG average: $6

I’ve heard some murmuring of this seeing play over [card]Oblivion Stone[/card] in Modern Tron, and I can understand that. It’s a colorless BOOM effect for those few Commander decks that don’t give a hoot about abusing the hell out of their graveyard like I do do, and for that it deserves more than bulk mythic pricing. I think $3 sounds about right in the near future. Some EDH applicability, very minor Modern applicability, and maybe even a one-of in a super grindy spell-based Standard deck.

[card]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/card]

Current TCG average: $6

God, how the mighty have fallen. If you dredge through my tweets from several months ago, you’ll see that I bought a Time Spiral block collection that contained six Urborgs. I already had a few prior to that, and I had a playset of extra ones left when this got spoiled. Within the hour, I had an order placed with Card Kingdom to sell that playset for $24 each. Other than knocking the condition of one of them down to EX and only giving me $18, they honored the original pricing of their buylist, which I was ecstatic to see, and I recommend selling to them in future similar situations.

I expect the pricing on this to stay static for a long time, fulfilling all of the current demand for EDH and a bit of Standard play. However, EDH players tend not to get rid of decks unless they absolutely have to. They just make new ones. Demand for this will steadily increase over time, and it will eventually peek its head above $10 again, but not for a while. Prediction: $5 or $6.

[card]Chandra, Pyromaster[/card]

Current TCG average: $5

This card was all the rage last year, hitting as high as $40 after making an attempt to replace [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card] as a source of four mana card advantage in red, and seeing minor Legacy play in the [card]Painter’s Servant[/card] deck. I think it’s safe to say that the hype is over and that the card is overall mediocre. Chandra, Pyromaster, is not amazing, but once again: not Tibalt. She’s a ‘walker that I’m always fine with trading for at $5, because planeswalkers are easy to sell and there’s very little possibility of downside. Predicted price: $5.

[card]Liliana Vess[/card]

Current TCG average: $5

After several printings, this lone survivor of the original five planeswalkers was still managing to climb past the $10 mark. This reprint certainly served to slice that price in half, and it will probably stick for the foreseeable future, following a similar trajectory to Urborg. Demand will be satisfied for collectors and casual players for the moment, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to trade other random $5 Standard cards into Vess if you have your eyes on the long road. Predicted price in two months: $5. Predicted price at this time next year? $10.

[card]Llanwowar Wastes[/card], [card]Battlefield Forge[/card], [card]Shivan Reef[/card], [card]Yavimaya Coast[/card], [card]Caves of Koilos[/card]

Current TCG average: $2-4, depending on the colors

Although they won’t see as much play as the shock lands did in Standard, these are dual lands that come in untapped. If you bought a set for $12 and actually want to play with them, you won’t be feeling too terrible and they won’t be bulk rares. They’re mediocre but playable, and their price will reflect that, probably not budging much in their not too glorious life throughout Standard. Predicted Price: $2 to $5, depending on what the flavor of the month is in Standard

[card]Scuttling Doom Engine[/card]

Current TCG average: $4

Am I missing something? I feel like this will almost certainly be a bulk rare within a month, due to very little Standard play and enough six-mana artifacts in the casual circuit to make this much less appealing than its current price reflects. I’m glad I don’t own any of this weird artifact bug so I don’t have to be in a rush to get rid of them. If I’m missing some reason that this should be played in Standard over anything else at a similar mana cost, let me know. I’m lost. Predicted price: bulk rare.

[card]Sliver Hive[/card]

Current TCG average: $4

This probably has more demand than the Hivelord, as it’s more viable in the 60-card sliver decks that are out there and unsleeved. I think this can actually share a $5 price tag with its mythic sliver friend. Foils of this will be especially sick, and you should pick them up if you happen to find them for a 2x multiplier. Predicted price: $5.

[card]The Chain Veil[/card]

Current TCG average: $4

Well, this is certainly unique. We finally get something that lets us utilize a single planeswalker ability more than once per turn (outside of weird blink shenanigans). I still think that there’s too much hype around this even at $4, and you’ll be able to find it for half that down the road. It costs eight freaking mana to get even the first use out of it—you can play two decent other walkers for that cost. I highly doubt that casual “wow” appeal will keep it from plummeting down to $2 for the foreseeable future, but I could be wrong. Predicted price: $2 to $4.

Wrapping Up (For Now)

Overall, most of the expensive stuff in the set is overpriced, as usual. There are a couple rares that I think have the capacity to go up, and you’ll see my picks of bulk rares that I think have potential Standard playability. I’d rather not go over 2,500 words in a single article, so I think I’ll stop here and save the lower-end stuff for next week. If you enjoyed my thoughts and opinions on M15, let me know! I’d be glad to do more of these in the future if I knew they were read and enjoyed.  On the other hand, keep me updated if you’d rather have me stick to the theoretical stuff involving intuitive ways to work Magic Finance that aren’t as well known. Until next time!

About the Author
@Rose0fthorns     -     Email     -     Articles Douglas Johnson is a 20-year-old MTG player who goes to college courtesy of a scholarship from Gamers Helping Gamers. He is currently found writing a weekly finance column at, and you can always feel free to contact him on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit.

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