BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The battle against the Phyrexians is over. Elesh Norn is dead, and the rest of her empire has fallen with her– but at a grave cost, as Planeswalkers across the worlds have lost their abilities. With the other major threats to the Multiverse contained (for now), it would seem that at last, there is some semblance of stability in the franchise’s story. But this leaves many questions; what happened to the characters who survived these events, and what else lies in store for the future of the game?
As an unexpected epilogue to their latest set of cards, Wizards of the Coast recently released March of the Machine – The Aftermath — a set that offers glimpses into the futures and fates of many of the characters from previous story arcs. This miniature package may not have the sheer number of cards that its predecessor did, but what it lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality.
Many cards from Aftermath have already surpassed the prices (and notoriety) of those from March of the Machine itself — but which are the most valuable in both play and price? To find out, we evaluated the five most expensive cards based on average pricing from card-checking site MTGGoldfish, as well as gave our own opinions on the uses these cards have. All prices have been rounded to the nearest dollar.
#5: Narset, Enlightened Exile ($7)
When it comes to Magic’s Planeswalkers, there are few that are as infamous as Narset. A powerful sage and scholar, the monk has not gone down in the game’s history for her impact in the story, but for being the character featured in two incredibly powerful cards. Her Legendary creature version Narset, Enlightened Master is a difficult-to-hit brawler with the ability to steal spells from your opponents’ decks, and her Planeswalker card Narset Transcendent is one that possesses a set of incredible abilities (most notably spell duplication and the ability to permanently stop opponents from casting non-creature spells). In her latest iteration, Narset has instead opted for a focus on spells already in the Graveyard.
Prowess (which gives Creatures more power whenever a spell is cast) is already a strong trick to bestow upon everything a player controls (Monastery Swiftspear is perhaps the most infamous example of this), but the more interesting aspect is her second — allowing her to steal spells for free from opponents’ graveyards without paying their mana costs. This not only allows her to activate the Prowess ability of other creatures she attacks alongside, but can potentially permit her user access to useful artifacts, enchantments, and cards that may not be possible in her color combination. While the Red/White/Blue trio of colors is not used as often as some other tricolor combinations, those looking to take advantage of opponents who like to cast cheap spells will surely be able to find a home for this exile.
#4: Calix, Guided By Fate ($8)
Calix is somewhat of an odd character in the game’s story. One of the very few individuals who possesses artificial Planeswalker abilities, he was originally created by one of the Gods of Theros (a world themed after Grecco-Roman myths) for the purpose hunting down another Walker, Elspeth, for the crime of escaping the Underworld. Although his efforts have so far been fruitless (and presumably will be for the foreseeable future due to her new Archangel form), he also secretly fears his victory, knowing that it would fulfill his purpose and thus cease his own existence. Still, even after the conflicts of the world have ended, he is on the hunt for those who defy their fates — a goal that is represented in his new Sparkless card.
Theros, as a whole, placed a heavy focus on Enchantment cards (especially for Green and White), and Calix has always been a perfect example of this — with his Planeswalker version best aiding decks that love Enchantments of all kinds, from the combination focused Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin to the heavy-hitting Uril, The Miststalker. The new Calix not only fits in with these builds by not only powering up creatures (including itself) whenever enchantments enter the battlefield, but especially for its effect to duplicate other Enchantments already on the field. This can not only be used to multiply powerful enchantments placed on a creature (Ancestral Mask for tremendous damage or Mantle of the Ancients to regain lost Auras), but stack the effects of useful cards multiple times (Duplicating Enchantress’s Presence allows for more card draw and copies of Sterling Grove can be sacrificed to constantly fetch the Enchantments you need at any given time), or even put constant pressure on an opponent (multiple Spheres of Safety can make it nearly impossible to attack you, and repeated uses of Oblivion Ring can constantly remove opposing cards from the game). This is made even more effective when one remembers Enchantment Creatures can also be duplicated, opening up a whole other number of combinations (such as using multiple Sanctum Weavers to gain large amounts of Mana or greatly reducing the cost of Enchantments with copies of Jukai Naturalist). With how popular Enchantments tend to be, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Calix rise up in price soon.
#3: Ob Nixillis, Captive Kingpin ($12)
Just because a majority of Planeswalkers have been allies at some point does not mean that there aren’t those with their own devious machinations. Even without counting the many formerly noble heroes that fell victim to Phyrexia’s Compleation, there are some who intend to use their powers for their own desires — and the demon Ob Nixillis is one of them. When he arrived in the gangster-inspired metropolis of New Capenna, Ob took advantage of the politics between the five families who rule over the metropolis to try and seize power, resulting in the death of one family leader and the almost mortal wounding of another. However, now that his devious plot has been revealed and the five feuding groups have banded together to rebuild the city, a sparkless Ob Nixilis finds himself staring down the combined forces of New Capenna — none of whom are too happy to hear about his attempts to tear them apart. But as his new card shows, he won’t go down without a fight.
This version of Ob may not feature his Planeswalker powers, but has certainly made a name for itself quickly. For four Mana, a Flying/Trample creature is not bad, but the really important aspect of this demon is his other effect. As odd as it seems, there are plenty of cards that can inflict one damage time and time again, and many decks that benefit from the ability to play exiled cards. Fans have even already discovered a way for this card to inflict game-winning damage alongside All Will Be One. For Red and Black players, the desparked Ob shows a huge number of possible niches in the game, and it would not be surprising to see the Captive Kingpin fit in with plenty of plans — with those focusing around cards like Nekusar, The Mindrazer or Grapeshot being the most obvious choices.
#2: Karn, Legacy Reforged ($13)
This Planeswalking golem was indirectly responsible for the beginning of New Phyrexia, and fortunately, he has survived long enough to be there for its end, an event that he is celebrating with a new card iteration. Fitting his existence as a golem, many of Karn’s cards are notorious for their synergy with artifacts and many uses. Not only does Karn, The Great Creator see plenty of play as a way to shut down opposing artifacts and bolster your own, but his Planeswalker counterpart Karn Liberated is infamous for his myriad of abilities (especially his -14). While the newest version of him does not have an effect as monstrous as these past iterations, it has still caught the eyes of many an Artifact player.
At the very least, Karn comes on to the battlefield as a 5/5 due to his own classification as an Artifact (though cards like Blightsteel Colossus can raise this power much higher), and his ability to add extra Mana quickly escalates when one takes into consideration the number of artifacts that can be put into play even in decks that do not focus on them (but even more so in strategies utilizing Myr Battlesphere or Genesis Chamber). This can not only help bring out more artifacts, but also activate the effects of artifacts like Staff of Domination repeatedly. Taking into consideration the many strong Commanders that synergize with artifacts (most notably Osgir, the Reconstructor, Breya, Etherium Shaper, and the much-despised Urza, Lord High Artificer), it’s easy to see why he will be a hit. Although its use is mostly restricted to artifact-focused decks, those that do seek Karn’s counsel will be happy to take advantage of the benefits he provides.
#1: Nissa, Resurgent Animist ($40)
There are very few things that are more beloved in Magic than a card that can search for other cards — especially when it comes to decks that already thrive. The ability to search through decks for what is needed can often be the difference between victory and defeat. When this ability is combined with Green — which already hosts a collection of powerful searchers like Worldly Tutor or the recent Invasion of Ikoria — it can only lead to a powerful card, and likewise, an expensive one. As one of the main characters of the previous Magic; The Gathering storyline, Nissa the Elf has had a long history, from a Planeswalker with many strategies (especially Land and Elves) to a member of the main heroic group, a Compleated Planeswalker under New Phyrexia, and finally a normal adventurer. This last card represents not only her ultimate fate, but her ultimate showing — at least, in terms of price.
Adding extra Mana when playing a land is nice, but it pales in comparison to Nissa’s ability to quickly bring useful cards to the hand. Both Elves and Elementals are wildly popular tribes in Commander format (especially Elves, who are notorious for both their strength and swarming ability), and even if they aren’t the focus of the decks they find themselves in, there are still plenty of popular cards from both tribes that make their way into other strategies (cards like Avenger of Zendikar and Llanowar Elves are popular entries in many Green decks, regardless of theme), meaning that Nissa can always be used to grab a valuable card. Green is also known for having a large number of cards that allow for extra Land to be played each turn (examples include Azusa, Lost But Seeking and Exploration), which will enable players to activate Nissa’s effect regularly. Add a relatively strong body for 3 Mana and the fact that she receives the same benefits as any other Elf, and it’s easy to see why this new version of the desparked Planeswalker is already making waves in many Green players’ arsenals. Those who are frustrated by powerful Elf decks at their local game stores, however, may be in for an even rougher experience with the addition of the Resurgent Animist into their ranks.
With the end of the Phyrexians, the Magic: The Gathering storyline has seen a tremendous shift. What lies in future sets is currently unknown in terms of story — and while some new products have been named and themed (including a return to the planes of Ixalan and Eldraine, as well as tie-ins with Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings), not many are sure of what exactly these new boosters will entail. Regardless of what it does, however, KX will be here to let you know what will come to the Multiverse soon — and how much getting your hands on the most valuable new additions will cost.
What do you think of the final act for many of these characters? Are you excited for the new sets yet to come? Be sure to let us know on our Facebook pages!