Welcome back to the second of my four part series covering the rotating Standard sets from an MTG finance perspective. If you missed my review of Throne of Eldraine last week, check it out here.
Much like Eldraine before it, Theros: Beyond Death is a deep set, boasting two uncommons worth $2+ and a handful of rares over $4. The mythic slot is deep, too, thanks to the second calling of the Theros gods (Heliod is the second most valued card in the set) and to the Elder Giants we met, Uro (#7) and Kroxa (#1).
Additionally, I would be remiss if I did not discuss the rare slot which contains two of the four most valuable cards from the set, Shadowspear (#3) and Dryad of the Ilysan Grove (#4), and two cEDH allstars, Thassa’s Oracle (#9) and Underworld Breach (#10).
It is worth noting that Dryad just caught a reprint in the All Natural Secret Lair drop that posted in June which was timely because pack non-foils were already trending toward $20. I expect to see Shadowspear catch the same treatment in the future, so any spec made on it should be tempered by that possibility. On the other hand, Thoracle and Breach feel likely to get a reprint in a Masters set (Double Masters 2022?) given their playability in Legacy, Vintage, and the competitive side of EDH.
As always, I am most interested in cards with multi-format applications, so keep that in mind as the reason behind the cards I am considering.
I like all of these cards from a playability perspective, but at mythic, Calix could have had the most upside. As it is, we got Galea in one of the Adventures of Forgotten Realms: Commander precons and I believe she will be the most popular enchantress commander moving forward. I also believe she invalidates Calix due to being strictly better card advantage directly from the command zone. I checked EDHREC and it confirms Calix doesn’t even make the list of “high synergy” cards when Galea is at the helm. I won’t be speculating on Calix as a result, but it is worth keeping an eye on the price over time. Enchantress strategies are so popular that, barring reprint, I could see Calix quietly doubling to $4-5 (pack non-foils) in 12-24 months. Please note: I am not endorsing Calix as a spec here, but I do plan to add it to my personal watchlist.
Setessan Champion is an interesting pick that sees fringe Modern-enchantress play and is a decent option for most enchantress strategies in commander. It also has a nice chart on www.mtgstocks.com which coincides with Galea.
The chart seems to indicate natural demand as opposed to speculators, so there might be something here. It is a reasonably strong card that rewards you for simply doing what enchantress decks already want to do. That said, it competes for a tough slot in enchantress decks, and it might also be dealing with the same issue as Calix where it isn’t actually worthy of a slot in Galea decks. My advice is to hold off for at least 2-3 months to see how the price behaves. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the price of Setessan Champion drop off in coming months as players test it in Galea and realize it isn’t a good fit. Like Calix, I will be adding this to my personal watchlist.
From a commander lens, Destiny Spinner is one of the most useful uncommons printed in recent memory. At mana value of two, this card is packed with useful text that probably could have cost one more to cast and still been great. I have been flipping copies since Theros: Beyond Death came out, and will continue to for as long as the arbitrage is there. From a finance perspective, my advice is to take a look in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region for your copies. Commander doesn’t have as strong of a presence, particularly in Europe, and you can get copies for 50% of TCGPlayer low. I have high confidence that Destiny Spinner will continue to gain value for as long as it goes without reprint. Don’t pay US prices, though. Shop overseas for your copies.
Idyllic Tutor was one of those no-brainer “buy the dip” reprints, and I personally loaded up on copies in summer 2020. At the time, I was able to get 40 pack non-foils for ~$3 and another 12 non-foil Extended Arts for ~$4.50. I expect I will be selling those copies for a double-up in a matter of months. I am not going to re-recommend Idyllic Tutor as a spec right now because I already have copies for sale, but I will draw attention to its popularity and modest, though natural, price growth since last year (up 50% from $3 to $4.50 in 12 months). If you need a copy for personal use, now is a fine time to grab one. It won’t get any cheaper until it catches its next reprint.
THEROS: BEYOND DEATH, IMPACT TO CEDH
One of the sub-themes of Theros: Beyond Death that I haven’t discussed yet is the impact it had to cEDH. Released in February, Underworld Breach and Thassa’s Oracle reshaped the metas of competitive Commander, Legacy, and Vintage. Unsurprisingly, Breach, the new version of Yawgmoth’s Will, “re-broke” Legacy and had to be banned just six weeks after hitting tabletop.
Shortly thereafter in April 2020, the Rules Committee for Commander elected to ban Flash allowing U-Breach and Thoracle to take over the meta. My educated guess at the time was that these two bans would combine to drive more players, including those enfranchised in Legacy, into cEDH. I also boldly predicted that it would catalyze a run on the cEDH playable Reserved List cards, something that played out a few short months later.
The chart below of Demonic Consultation shows just how powerful this meta shift was. Seemingly overnight, Consult-Oracle became the go-to wincon for cEDH players, and Underworld Breach shows up in most of these lists as a complimentary combo piece.
I am already speculating on Underworld Breach non-foil Extended Art copies that I was able to buy for an average of $7/ea., so I won’t re-recommend copies for that reason. I am also less bullish on Thassa’s Oracle for one reason: I’m worried it could be targeted for a ban in Commander eventually.
I would like to point out that there are increasing amounts of arbitrage opportunities with both of these cards when moving copies from the EU to the US and Asia-Pacific. The latter, Asia-Pacific, is interesting and seems to be driven by an increasing interest in cEDH from the Japanese player base. There has been a history of strong Legacy presence in Japan, so a natural progression for these players into cEDH makes sense. This is an exciting macro-trend that took shape with War of the Spark and is worth watching for years to come.
FINAL PICK: KLOTHYS, GOD OF DESTINY
One of the most popular cards in all of Standard, Klothys stands to lose the most value from rotation of any card I have talked about so far. It is a multi-format all-star which sees play in Modern and Legacy, and it will start to see more play in Pioneer as that format develops and matures. Copies are already hovering around $10, but I am watching closely to see if we get some downward action to around $8 as players trade in copies to move into Standard 2022. Hard to say if this will happen due to Covid still reeking havoc on in-person play, and due to the lack of Organized Play support.
All told, I think Klothys is worth a look, and I personally plan to watch its price action (especially buylist pricing) through rotation (Sept. 24th). I don’t think it is a bad pick at $10, but I’ll like it even more if it drops to $7-8. Reprint risk also feels low for Klothys, so buying and holding for 6-12 months is more viable than I would normally recommend.
I hope you enjoyed this lengthy coverage of Theros: Beyond Death. It was one of my favorite sets in recent history and I truly feel it was overshadowed by Covid + all the bans that occurred. I didn’t mention sealed this time around, but I do love the idea of getting draft boxes of T:BD if you can find them for $90-100. I’m less excited by Collector Boosters, but still don’t mind a box if you can still find one for $200 or less.
You can catch more of my specs at the end of each Brewin’ With Conviction podcast episode, and you can always find me posting live information on Twitter.
As a reminder, you can also now find my content on www.CardSphere.com! I will be producing 1-2 articles per month for CS where I will be blending my love for MTG finance and commander together. I am so excited for the opportunity to broaden the distribution of my content stream.
As always, I’ll leave you with our tagline, think like a brewer and buy like a financier! And when you are in doubt, I’m here to help. My DMs are always open!
Chris Martin is the co-founder of Conviction Gaming and co-host of the Brewin’ With Conviction podcast. He has been playing MTG since 1998 and is an avid EDH player with a knack for MTG finance.
You can find him on Twitter @ChiStyleGaming.