Even with a Phyexian takeover, these Mirrodin cards still hold their value!
Phyrexia this, Phyrexia that. All anyone can talk about at the moment is Phyrexia and all the new cards from All Will Be One. What about what was going on before the Phyrexians rocked up on Mirrodin and turned it into an oily, writhing mass of weird spikes and far too many teeth? Before its compleation, Mirrodin has been home to some of the most powerful sets in Magic’s history – artifact-based sets tend to be pretty good, in general – and if you go all the way back to 2003, you’ll find some absolute classics from the original Mirrodin set, with price tags to match their power.
10. Platinum Angel
You can do all sorts of silly things with Platinum Angel. A static effect that prevents you from losing is pretty exploitable, and as a result Platinum Angel remains in reasonably high demand as people try to get away with silly things like killing people with Axis of Mortality or forcing a draw with Transcendence. Platinum Angel sees play in Angel decks, of course, but also with commanders like Phage the Untouchable and Heartless Hidetsugu – with Hitdetsugu and a Furnace of Rath-type effect, Platinum Angel can help you nuke the table. It’s been reprinted a fair bit over the years, which has helped to keep the price manageable, and its $10 price tag doesn’t truly reflect its popularity and power. Finally, and most importantly, this card is the centerpiece of one of the most amusing tournament stories in Magic’s history, which I very strongly recommend you read.
9. Vedalken Archmage
Market Price: $12.08
Vedalken Archmage is at the same price as Platinum Angel for inverse reasons: having only ever been reprinted in Jumpstart, this card is $10 because of a lack of supply coupled with medium demand, rather than high demand and decent supply (it also isn’t quite as famous and iconic; no one has ever written a funny Vedalken Archmage story). This card is incredible, however, in the right decks: Emry, Lurker of the Loch, Sai, Master Thopterist, Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain, the list goes on. Any deck with an abundance of cheap artifacts will be very glad to have such a simple and straightforward draw engine, so if you’ve got an artifact deck that doesn’t yet have a Vedalken Archmage in it, it might be worth picking one up and burying yourself in the extra cards it brings.
8. Mesmeric Orb
Believe it or not, Mesmeric Orb used to cost more than twice what it does now. Before it was reprinted in Double Masters, Mesmeric Orb cost as much as $25, given its widespread popularity in mill decks of all kinds and self-mill combo potential with cards like Basalt Monolith or Aphetto Alchemist (still an easy way to sneak out a Thassa’s Oracle win). Thankfully, the Double Masters reprint helped in making this card much more affordable, and you can pick up a 2XM copy for under $5, and that price is only dropping further with the new Brothers’ War retro frame versions. If you want the original version from Mirrodin, however, it’ll cost you $11 – I know that for many, however, it’s the OG version or nothing.
7. Isochron Scepter
Market Price: $11.81
One of the most exploitable combo pieces ever printed, Isochron Scepter might not be good enough for 60-card constructed, but it is still an absolute house in EDH. There are so many ways to do broken things like take infinite turns (Final Fortune and Sundial of the Infinite, or Narset’s Reversal and Time Warp), or you could just hang out and tap and untap everything you have until you figure out a way to win by exiling Dramatic Reversal to the Scepter. Despite two Masters set reprints, Isochron Scepter is still an $11 card, and that’s unlikely to change seeing as how much ridiculous fun you can have with this card.
6. Proteus Staff
Market Price: $9.23
Proteus Staff has nothing on Isochron Scepter in terms of power and popularity, but the fact that it has never been reprinted means that it, too, is a $11 card. Despite just being a repeatable Transmogrify, Proteus Staff commands a high price thanks to its relative scarcity, and the fact that it sees a little bit of play in token/artifact hybrid EDH decks, led by commanders such as Urza, Lord High Artificer (I’ve also seen it used to great effect in Fblthp, the Lost decks as a weird way to cast Divination each turn). For what it’s worth, however, Proteus Staff can, like Isochron Scepter, generate infinite turns: if you have Nexus of Fate and zero creatures in your deck, you can tuck your commander, stack your deck to have the Nexus on top (it says “any order”!) and… well, presumably win from there somehow, it should be hard with infinite turns and a stacked deck!
Market Price: $13.83
This card was the first in a three-set “cycle” across Mirrodin, Darksteel and Fifth Dawn, and even today remains the most expensive part of that cycle at $12 (the Shield is $10, while the Helm is just $2). I think people talk about the Kaldra cycle more than they actually play it, because according to EDHRec data, none of these cards see enough play to make them worth their price tags – except the Helm, I suppose. No, unless you’re Tomer Abramovici, you’re playing Sword of Kaldra in order to exile opposing creatures with hyper-deathtouch, and it’s not uncommon to see the Sword included in Equipment-based lists by itself, thanks to the power of exiling things in Commander.
Market Price: $17.14
It doesn’t take too much explanation to understand why Tooth and Nail is almost a $20 card. With a single reprint in Modern Masters, this card is a staple in my favorite kind of EDH list: big, dumb, green and filled with huge monsters. For nine mana, you can tutor up and play around 15 mana’s worth of creature, and in many cases, Tooth and Nail is just a nine-mana sorcery that wins you the game. Go and fetch Avenger of Zendikar and Craterhoof Behemoth, for instance, and that should be game over. This card is on a slightly negative price trajectory, and its price would probably come down quite significantly with a reprint, but until then this will remain a solid EDH staple with a reasonably consistent price.
Market Price: $27.64
I think cards like Extraplanar Lens are absolutely terrific. Given that EDH is so overrun with multicolored decks supported by ambitious mana bases, having a powerful incentive to play a monocolored deck is something I’d love to see more of. Extraplanar Lens is exactly that, too – doubling the mana produced by a basic-filled mana base, it’s not surprising to see it included in monocolored decks led by commanders such as Avacyn, Angel of Hope or Inferno of the Star Mounts (although it is a symmetrical effect, so if an opponent is also on a monocolored list like yours, it definitely feels bad). Is it worth $27, however? I don’t think so. This card has never been properly reprinted and its price is heavily inflated as a result. Given the location-agnostic name of this card, it could be reprinted in any setting – and hopefully sooner rather than later, so as to make it accessible to more players.
Market Price: $54.11
All of the cards we’ve spoken about so far owe their price tags to Commander. That’s pretty typical; it’s unusual for sets this old to have their overall price propped up by 60-card constructed. However, when there is a card that is widely played across formats like Modern and Legacy, when it comes from an old set like Mirrodin, and when reprints haven’t kept up with demand, you end up with a situation like Chalice of the Void: a $60 multiformat staple. Chalice is a frustratingly powerful hate piece played in all sorts of decks that seek to control the flow of a game, and its scarcity has seen it top $90 in the past. Even after settling down at $60, a playset is still $240, and Chalice is still a huge part of decks from White-Blue Control and Four-Color Omnath in Modern to Mono-White Initiative in Legacy. Given the popularity of one-drops in both these formats, I can’t see Chalice coming down in price without a massive reprint.
Market Price: $81.35
But when it comes to expensive cards in Mirrodin, nothing beats Chrome Mox. At almost $80 a copy, Chrome Mox is absurdly expensive – especially considering it has been reprinted in both Double Masters and Eternal Masters, and is banned in Modern. Why? Two reasons, in short: Legacy and cEDH. Two-for-one-ing yourself for an extra mana on turn one can be close to game-winning, and so Legacy decks from Initiative to Oops! All Spells run playsets of Chrome Mox to get ahead early. It’s a similar story in cEDH, where all the best decks play all the broken mana rocks, and Chrome Mox is no exception. It’s rare for a Mox not to end up with a hefty price tag (sorry, Mox Tantalite) and Chrome Mox is right up there with Mox Opal and… well, no, not Mox Diamond, and certainly not with power, but you take my point. It turns out that free mana is really, really good!