Friday, October 9, 2009

Budget Building: A Look at Uncommon Rotations

The Fall of each Magic year is really one of the most interesting times of the Magic season. The new Fall set brings about the rotation, with many cards slipping into Extended, Block consideration ends for another group, and a brand new set bounces into consideration. All of this change really brings a lot of opportunity for a Budget Builder to pick up significant cards on the cheap.


Lets start buy looking at the cards exiting Standard. Lorwyn truly had one of the most exceptional collections of uncommons to come along in years. I'd have to reach all the way back to Urza's, to find a block with so much value to be had. The M10 release also pushed Xth edition core set into Extended, although it will rotate with the Timespiral super block in the future.

To start things off, lets talk about the lands leaving Standard. Nothing helps a casual/budget builder more then a good land base, and nothing is easier to overlook in favor of flashier spells and creatures. The Vivid lands represent uncommon versatility in a land which is truly unprecidented. These lands are not expected to have the same impact in the competitive Extended field as they did in Standard. Values on these are down 50% from their Standard highs. Pick these up now if you don't already have your playsets. These will be more relevant in future extended seasons, so don't miss out on the bargains. Similarly the "man-lands" of Xth are rotating, and Faerie Conclave and Treetop Village should be part of any casual/budget collection, along with any other non-essential man-land, which appeals to your play style or color choices.

It should come as no surprise that Lorwyn was a tribal block, and many tribes got real boosts, that should be considered for the budget minded player. Kithkin/Tokens may well see play for years in Extended, Casual, and who knows what other formats. Be sure to pick up these cards before they become hard to find. Also take a good look at any other kithkin which you may need to fill out your tribal deck. Kithkin hadn't really been seen since Legends, and it may be some time before significant numbers are printed again.

Burrentun Forge-Tender

Cloudgoat Ranger

Goldmeadow Stalwart

Knight of the Meadowgrain

Spectral Procession

Wizened Cenn

Merfolk got a long awaited, and much needed boost during the Lorwyn block. While many of the cards/decks never really took off, Curse Catcher, and Merrow Reejery are not to be missed. Fish is still a significant deck, even in eternal formats, and these two gems fit right in to many builds.

Elves were a very significant tribe over the last couple of years. The bad news is everyone knows it, and few of the cards have dropped in price. I think the possible sleepers here are Elvish Promenade, and Wren's Run Vanquisher. I'd snap these up, before supply becomes an issue, just in case. WRV is so above the curve, and has death touch, it's hard to believe that a casual/budget player will regret picking them up.

Shadowmoor's "color matters" blunder, did bring about a number a uniquely powerful and versatile cards, which are sure to see play for years to come;

Boggart Ram-Gang


Flame Javelin

Gutteral Responce

Kitchen Finks

Murderous Redcap

Last up in this group I'd like to shine the spot light on Condemn. White has been given a lot of love in the removal department in Standard the last year or so, and this card has fallen out of favor because of it. It's just as good as it ever was, and has a much higher chance to see reprint into future Standard, then many of the contemporary darlings. Even it it doesn't it's a great card in it's own right, and deserves a spot in more collections.

Shards Rotation (yes includes M10)

There are so many chase uncommons in Shards right now, as the world is still trying to figure out what will be good in the new Standard. I really want to only talk about the cream of the crop, the ones most likely to hold or go up in value as the format shakes out.

Anthemancer- this card is not done yet, one stupid good land in either of the next 3 sets, and it's a star again.

Ancient Zigguret- just what (2+ color) aggro decks need for fixing, they just haven't figured it out yet.

Tri-Lands- these are better then the new uncommon "healing" lands in Zendikar, and I think they will remain so for most decks until Shards rotates out of Standard a year from now.

Bloodbraid Elf- I read card advantage is good, discuss.

Elite Vanguard- Above the curve, and an increasingly relevant creature type. Seems good.

Harms Way- One of the most forward thinking White spells we have seen since Revilark. My guess is it's a little over powered for an uncommon.

Lorescale Coatl- Just waiting on a deck. Enemy fetchlands are going to lead to that deck.

Overrun- does this card ever get old? Giant growth and trample for the team means win, else you are doing it wrong.

Path to Exile- If you don't know why this card is good, then I really don't know why you are reading this article.

Pyroclasm- clearing the board for big beaters since Iceage!


This is a new set, and is pretty untested at this point, so most of these may seem obvious, which is all the more reason not to miss out. GateKeeper of Malakir reminds me a lot of Shreikmaw, which was really good. This is much easier to cast, but requires a bit more dedication to black mana. There really is no down side to being hard black at this point, so this will see play. Kazandu Blademaster is the new Knight of the Meadowgrain, how it will shake out remains to be seen, but it has huge potential, and is a must take in draft, so they will be chase for some time. Vampire Hexmage says "sorry" to so many things right now from planeswalkers, to quests, accensions, and even roided out creatures. We have not even seen all the good things this can do. Don't be surprised if she starts popping up in other formats too. I recently read where Vampire Nighthawk was described as Akroma's little Goth cousin, and I think they are so right. It's not Akroma, but it comes close. This will become the "why aren't you playing this" for black Standard for the next two years.

I also wanted to take a minute to talk about Harrow, and Hideous End. I know they are commons, but these may be relevant enough to pay attention to them. Make sure you have all you want, because if any commons become hard to find, it will be these.

There are a lot of other cards which were almost talked about, so don't be surprised if you want to add a few more things to your shopping list. Follow your instincts, because no one knows how you play better then you do, but think long and hard before you pass on these items.

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