The Market Speaks, Part Two: Don’t Know Why
Mike Eaton, Play Unplugged
Welcome back! Last article, I brought up some cards that command high prices that are nonetheless fun or interesting for the casual gamer. In this article, we’re looking at cards that shouldn’t turn your head. In fact, some of these are so expensive, they might not even be possible to purchase at this point without a small personal loan — so, whatever you do, don’t break the bank.
Force of Will ($56.95): Let’s start with the Blue Meanie, here — Force of Will may be a “free” counterspell, but it’s still just a counter. It’ll be hard to get a playset for under $300 when it’s all said and done, and honestly, your blue deck isn’t going to be much better unless you routinely have to stop bizarre, broken Legacy decks that win on Turn 0 or 1. Force of Will is only this expensive because it’s the only thing that stops players from losing all their money in otherwise unwinnable tournaments with decks like that. It’s a shame, but it happens. If you want the feel, go for Mental Misstep — which is still more expensive than it has any right to be ($3.29), but won’t take food out of the mouths of your children.
Imperial Seal: A functional reprint of Vampiric Tutor? Oh, it would be nice to have two of them in an EDH deck; they’re very useful. How much? Oh, only — $215?!!!??!?!?! (YES, THAT WAS NECESSARY.) I mean, I get it; this card is very rare because it was only in the Portal: Three Kingdoms set, which had a very limited release (mostly Australasia) and is now nearly impossible to find. But if anyone has ever paid that much for a Vampiric Tutor, I think I would honestly be pretty sad. Sad and upset. . . . Moving on.
Juzam Djinn ($131.74): Somehow, in a world with Baneslayer Angel and Phyrexian Obliterator, the ol’ Djinn is still holding at almost $150 — just below where he was when I first started. Four mana, 5/5 that damages you? Two-hundred smackers? No wai.
The Three-Kingdoms Legends with Horsemanship, including Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed ($60.17): Some of these are better than others — I’m cool with Sun Quan, Lord of Wu — but each of them seems to be going for between $10-20. I understand why; Horsemanship is amazing for an EDH general; it can basically turn him or her into a short-term clock for General Damage. The thing is, there are so many more interesting concepts for a general than just Some Guy On A Horse, Let’s Attack Six Times. And Xiahou Dun really mystifies me; no EDH graveyard combo is worth that kind of cash — and I actually saw one sell, as in someone promised to pay, for $200 on eBay. “Madness; madness!”
Show and Tell ($26.39): I’m aware that this card is broken, and that a good blue-black deck can engineer a game to let you drop a free bomb and leave your opponents out of luck. But you know what? I would never pay this much. Give me Braids for a dollar any day. And there are a thousand other ways to get some stupid bomb into play that don’t cost this much.
Tarmogoyf ($57.62): To continue on a theme, there are other ways to get a 5/6 into play for 2 mana that don’t cost this much. Would you pay this much for Myr Superion? I think not. I don’t care which tournaments this guy ran; he doesn’t deserve a place in my box this badly.
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale ($223.51): When they put this guy on a stick and called him a Magus, they made a pretty powerful card that doesn’t cost nearly this much (though, eh, he does affect himself in the process.) But, OK, the Tabernacle is awesome for a creatureless strategy to destroy a creatured one — Armageddon/Crucible of Worlds comes to mind as a possible lock, but that’s a whole strategy by itself, anyway. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love the name, I love the art, and I love what it does — but anyone about to pay this much for a card that, in casual play, is a glorified Mageta the Lion ($1.21) at best. might want to think again. The lesson here is that, for $200, we really shouldn’t be getting anything less than Power Nine — but Power, it ain’t.
Wasteland ($47.25): Ah; the card that broke Crucible of Worlds (even more). This card is tremendously useful against the right strategy; it’s a staple against duals, and an amazing sideboard card. And for about a thousand fewer dollars, you can pick up a Ghost Quarter that’s only marginally worse. (OK, it gives them another land, but I’ll take it over the insane cost of a playset of Wasteland.) I should point out that I recommended purchasing Gaea’s Cradle, which is almost the same price, and some of you may think I should clarify why that was OK, and this is not. The answer is simple: You’ll get much more casual play fun out of generating TONS of mana than you will spot-targeting nonbasic lands. I imagine that half the deeper-cut decks in your friends’ boxes don’t even run nonbasics; I know mine don’t. (Who has time to go fishing for lands when your great red/green idea is itching to be played?) In short: Pick up Wastelands only if you want to go pro.
(Now that I mention it, I should have included Crucible in Part One; it’s a definite keeper. Re-playing all your lands is hours of family fun, as they say.)
OK! That’s literally almost all I can stand for talking about money — perhaps my least favorite construct of society — but it’s unfortunate to see new players, or players who are trying to “get serious,” overspend on cards that seem awesome on the outset, only to get burned when they get them home. Hopefully, if you were online just now saying, “For $60, this crazy cyclops legend guy must be good,” you’ve just been able to reality-check yourself with this little piece.
Until next we meet, spend responsibly. Uncommons are your friend! (Well — except for Wasteland.)